Sunday, June 1, 2014

Movie Review: X-men Days of Future Past

Nerd Alert!  I am going to warn you now before you get too far in.  I am a nerd, especially when it comes to the X-men.  I don’t advertise it, but I used to have quite the impressive comic book collection.  Thanks to e-bay, that collection has dwindled and fuelled my passion for watching live sports, but I digress.  If you read any further, there will almost, without a doubt, almost for a fact, will be SPOILERS ahead.  You have been warned.

There have been more X-men movies than I can recall.  I had started by watching the cartoons in the mid-1990’s and falling in love with the stories, thus turning to the comics for the full stories.  The characters were so accessible, someone for everyone to identify with.  I had my favourites.  Like most people, I loved Wolverine, but I identified more with Rogue or Kitty Pryde, I mean, who wouldn’t want to be a super hero, regardless?  When the first movie came out, it captured the essence of X-men while mangling the origin story for pretty much every single character.  This was the beginning of the end of my love for the movies, yet I continued to see all of the movies in theatres, not wanting them to stop making them.  Years later, what they did with the Phoenix saga really should have clued me in.

If you need to be caught up, in the first X-men movie, the audience is introduced to the X-men through Rogue and Wolverine as they join the X-men after being loners.  In the second movie, a focus on Wolverine, the movie shifts giving more background to the relationships between the various characters and shows that Professor Xavier isn’t so perfect after all.  The second movie also reveals a garbled version of Wolverine’s (Logan) origin.  In the third movie, the story takes a turn for the odd when Jean Grey (having died at the end of the second movie, presumably) comes back and doesn’t come back quite right.  She kills Cyclops (Scott Summers) and Professor Xavier with the power of her mind alone.  It is here again we see Xavier’s past being somewhat checkered.  After this third X-men movie, there were several off-shots, mostly Wolverine focused.  There was a recent movie, X-Men First Class, which tells the story of the beginning of the formation of the X-men, so to speak.  The multiple Wolverine movies were fun, but they never really grabbed me or made me feel any sort of authentic connexion to the storied character.

I realise that was a rushed primer, but there is the Internet to help you as well.  The key to this movie, The Days of Future Past, it is a well-known comic story that is now being retold on the big screen.  As the name should imply, it takes place throughout time.  The movie starts in the future and most of the original cast from the first X-men movie are there, coming up with a plan to stop the dire situation they are currently living in.  A risky procedure is started and it is Wolverine who is sent back in time to find Professor Xavier and Magneto to stop their mutual…friend Mystique from killing someone.  Some people think a time-travel movie cheapens the adventure, but I would disagree, just because most everything that you see gets undone because of the story doesn’t make it less of a story, it is just one more piece to the adventure.

Needless to say, Wolverine does manage to get his point across and while Professor Xavier does buy into the story, Magneto can’t be trusted and endangers everything more by getting involved.  I think what kept me focused in the movie was seeing the story unfold in a way that the stories hadn’t unfolded since the very first movie.  The sequels always felt like just that.  Even X-men First Class wasn’t compelling.  This movie almost stands on its own two feet, bringing in almost everyone from the X-universe into the story.  The question I had leaving was why Xavier’s death in the third movie was neither explained nor addressed, save that he was alive and well at the end of the last Wolverine movie, but that doesn’t tell you much.

If you’re a superhero fan or an X-fan, then you should stop what you’re doing and go out and see this movie.  I didn’t bother seeing it in IMAX or anything.  I’m not throwing money away hand over fist, if I can help it.  This movie won’t necessarily stay with you, but it does bring the lustre that we saw from the first movie and the newness you might feel when watching the Avenger’s movies.

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