The genre of super-hero films has changed more drastically than Bruce Jenner’s face in the past few decades since its inception. What began as a way of retelling treasured comic book character’s stories through kitschy screenplays, bright suits, and dated pyrotechnics has gradually turned into deep allegories that commentate on modern society, a subtext Stan Lee and Marvel Comics included in their original works. The super-hero genre has been on a winding rollercoaster of alternating success with some years delivering trite, fluffy films surrounding men in spandex, while other filmmakers throughout the years have focused on harsh realities and darker tones in the genre. Marking the triumphant return of director Bryan Singer to the franchise, X-Men Days of Future Past is a whirlwind narrative that combines everything there is to love about the super-hero genre, from its bright flashy colors and effects to the personal struggles of characters who carry the heavy burden of saving the world on their shoulders.
“I’d actually prefer you call me Jennifer Bruce now.”
X-Men: Days of Future Past boasts an ensemble cast from the past films to take the X-Men story light-years into different dimensions and realities. It’s the distant future and sentient space-aged begins known as Sentinels are on the hunt for mutants. Programmed to wipe out mutants and their potential threat to American safety, as argued by their creator Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage), Sentinels have gone slightly rogue and have begun killing off human beings who possess the genes that are likely to mutate and deliver them power. It’s up to the X-Men, a group of mutants on the run, to use their powers to save the earth from the damning Sentinels. With the help of Kitty Pryde, Wolverine must go back in time to the 1970’s to convince a young Charles Xavier, Magneto, and Mystique to avoid taking part in events that ultimately lead to the creation of Sentinels and the destruction of Earth.
Or we could just sit around smoke a doobie then listen to some Carpenters.
I have yet to watch X-Men Origins: First Class (I know, I know, but I’m just pretty “meh” about super-hero films) and haven’t seen the original X-Men trilogy in years. I walked into X-Men Days of Future Past pretty blind and ignorant, the way I do most sequels and continuations. I was told that I didn’t have to see X-Men Origins: First Class because Days of Future Past wasn’t a “sequel” in the typical sense of the word. While this is kind of true, my lack of knowledge of the first film left me with the constant feeling that I was missing something. I didn’t quite understand the background of characters and their connections to one another. Also a deeper understanding of their personalities and the histories of powers was a bit fuzzier to understand that I’d hoped.
Yet, in spite of this I got treated to an exceptionally crafted film that gave me enough information to empathize with nearly every major character whose paths we cross. X-Men Days of Future Past reminded me of Fast and Furious 6 in the way it includes characters from previous films and intermingles sub-universes of the franchise. Simon Kinberg’s screenplay brilliantly tackles the dynamics of a wide array of topics throughout the film: history, biology, quantum physics, self-determination, self-realization, redemption, fear, and The Vietnam War and its effects on society are nimbly explored.
America is so magnetic.
Each character possesses their own goals and motivations which allows for some fantastic, shocking moments of conflict and betrayal. But, the script doesn’t give viewers the easy task of hating “the bad guy” just because he’s bad. X-Men: Days of Future Past dismantles the one-dimensional stereotype of an evil genius wanting to destroy because he hates mutants or because it’s a Wednesday. Instead the antagonists, Trask most notably, are beefed up with underlying good intentions that revolve around the greater good of humanity. The most admirable aspect of X-Men Days of Future Past is its theme of morality, and characters must contemplate whether their negative actions are worth the justice or humanity they are fighting for.
No super hero film is worth the watch without good action sequences, and X-Men: Days of Future Past’s are phenomenal, despite the unnecessary addition of 3D technology. Though 3D enhances the depth and”‘cool” factor of a scene or two, the remarkable cinematography, choreographed fight sequences, and art direction are enough to impress viewers. Regardless, I was in literal awe of some of the scene’s innovations, especially during a beautifully concocted scene in which a character slows time to save the day while Jim Croce’s “Time in a Bottle” coos through the scene.
I could easily nitpick certain elements of X-Men Days of Future Past like its lack of consistency in explaining time travel and the effects of live TV. I can also admit that not everything about this film is unique; Thor, The Matrix, and other films have visited elements of Days of Future Past first. However, none of that matters in the grand scheme of the film. Singer directs a mind-blowing, intelligent story that explores all areas of human emotion and livelihood.
Every actor pulls their weight, allowing the ensemble cast to deliver a fulfilling nostalgic sheen to characters and their plight. The time frame of the 1970s is tastefully toyed with and thankfully the film never uses the decade and its time-sensitive icons as a crutch. Instead, the focus is on Professor Xavier and Magneto’s dueling ideologies that mirror that of Civil Rights leaders during the era in which the film takes place. This reveals a much more meaningful intention of the story, something I’ve always admired about Stan Lee’s vision of mutants and humans.
Take a Drink: every time someone injects themselves with the “serum”
Take a Drink: every time Mystique changes into someone other than herself
Take a Drink: whenever Professor Xavier gets into someone’s head.
Do a Shot: if James McAvoy’s face makes you think dirty thoughts
Pour a Drink Out: in your mouth for every X-Man that dies, regardless of how many times.