X-Men: Days of Future Past
– for sequences of intense sci-fi violence and action, some suggestive material, nudity and language.
Director: Bryan Singer
Starring: Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, Peter Dinklage, Ellen Page, Evan Peters
Running Time: 2 hours, 11 minutes
Theatrical Release Date: May 23, 2014
The ultimate X-Men ensemble fights a war for the survival of the species across two time periods in X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST. The beloved characters from the original “X-Men” film trilogy join forces with their younger selves from the past, “X-Men: First Class,” in order to change a major historical event and fight in an epic battle that could save our future. (20th Century Fox)
When director Bryan Singer gave up the reins to Brett Ratner in 2006 for the third X-Men outing, The Last Stand, fans probably figured they’d seen the last of Singer’s hand in the beloved Marvel franchise. That film saw the demise of several central characters that seemed to obliterate the Singer X-Men universe. This lead to a Wolverine origin spin-off and a sort-of X-Men reboot in 2011 that focused on the birth of Professor X’s school with X-Men: First Class. But to neatly bring everything together in a different and unique way–while keeping it grounded in the lore of the comics a bit–Singer returns to the director’s chair for 2014’s Days of Future Past, a story that merges the past and present cast. And the end result will surprise and excite fans.
It’s tough to delve into the strongest points of Days of Future Past without spoiling things, but the latest X-Men entry feels very much like a smattering of everything the franchise has had to offer thus far. This works in some respects, but it’s also a bit of a strike against it as well. The film opens in “the future” where the skies are black, cities appear decimated, and mutants are being hunted and executed. We see bodies literally piling up before we get a glimpse of a group of survivors defending themselves against attacking Sentinel robots. Shortly after seeing many more mutants meet their end, we realize that they managed to escape and what we’d just witnessed was a vision. Before long, Professor Xavier and some surviving mutants devise a plan to send Wolverine (Logan)’s consciousness back to 1973 to convince their younger selves to prevent the war on mutants from ever beginning. The story then shifts back to the First Class cast and the fallout from the events of that film. The one forgivable but rather frustrating detail that bugs this movie watcher, however, is never giving a clear, on-screen explanation for how Professor X survived the events of X-Men: The Last Stand. Furthermore, at the end of last year’s The Wolverine–which serves as a bridge between The Last Stand and this movie–we see Wolverine minus his adamantium claws as he’s confronted by a now-alive Professor X. Charles explains that they need his help and the end credits bonus scene ends there. We have no context for how far into the future Days of Future Past occurs because the world appeared completely normal at the end of The Wolverine. One can probably just as easily fill in the blanks as far as how things progress from event to event and how they get to where they are at the start of this movie, but the foggy timeline just seemes a little bit like lazy storytelling. They’re minor, forgivable gripes, but for a film like this one that sets to change the stakes while raising them, and set some things right in the franchise, the uber-bleak and violent “future” seems to have come about pretty abruptly.
Nitpicks aside, Singer’s third X-Men outing definitely carries a different feel than his previous two films from over a decade ago. Tonally, Days of Future Past is more in line with First Class, even being a bit more edgy (or even “crass,” as young Charles reminds Logan that he had told them to “F— off” in his cameo in that film) than X-Men or X2. It’s fun to see the prequel cast unite with the original cast, with frequent nods to characters and events from all of the movies that preceded it. In fact, you can expect to even see clips from the previous films, especially from Wolverine’s perspective. Days of Future Past ties things up with a bow so nicely, fans are going to be real eager to see where things go in the next film, which has already been given the title X-Men: Apocalypse. But the strongest thing Days of Future Past has going for it is in the acting caliber. James McAvoy is fantastic once again as a young Charles, while Michael Fassbender continues to prove to be a truly inspired choice as a young Erik. Hugh Jackman also turns in another solid performance as Wolverine, not merely performing on autopilot and seeming content to step aside to let the others take the spotlight when needed. Nicholas Hoult is also great again as a young version of Beast, but the ever popular Hunger Games star Jennifer Lawrence just feels out of place as Mystique. Lawrence is a bit of a superstar in Hollywood right now, but she just seems to have the wrong look and feel for a movie like this. She’s really the only cast member who feels as though they don’t really belong with the rest. Lastly, some of the original cast does seem a bit wasted. Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen were big parts of the original films as Charles and Erik, respectively, but they don’t get much screen time here, and McKellen hardly has more than a line or two to speak. Halle Berry, who was pregnant while filming so her part was understandably scaled back, is just in a scene or two, while Anna Paquin, who played Rogue in the first three movies, is only given the smallest cameo. Shawn Ashmore, who played Iceman, also isn’t given a whole lot of screen time, while Ellen Page’s Kitty Pryde barely even feels like the same character.
There has been some debate over inconsistencies between the original trilogy and the First Class timeline, which has reportedly been treated as an outright reboot and also as just a prequel to the same storyline. Regardless, especially if you don’t overthink dates and connections too much, Days of Future Past still works nicely to connect the dots. The film’s strength is ultimately in the acting and emotional element of the film, as some of the action is good, but as exemplified in the finale, also just appears to add up to a whole lot of CG-driven spectacle (which is a little uneven in its quality). Singer’s first two X movies seemed to aim for a grounding in reality, but Days of Future Past ventures further out into the realm of fantasy, which changes the overall feel of the film a bit. Still, fans of his X entries should enjoy his treatment here. And Singer makes the journey worth the audience’s while when we finally get to the satisfying conclusion.
The content is pretty rough. Granted, First Class (and especially The Wolverine) was quite edgy and violent, so it probably won’t be much of a surprise to know that Days of Future Past doesn’t break from that trend. Violence is frequent and intense, and some images can be a little graphic — from autopsy headshots to Wolverine’s body being impaled by rebar snaking through his frame — it isn’t for the faint of heart. Another scene shows a slow-motion shot of a bullet ripping through a shallow part of someone’s neck (with bloody results), while some mutant deaths involve characters being impaled or even torn apart. As mentioned before, there is some profanity, with one “F” word from McAvoy and a handful of other language and blasphemy from other characters in the movie. Jackman shows his bare butt when Logan gets out of bed in one scene, while Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique is essentially nude with just body paint and some scaley prosthetics on top.
X-Men: Days of Future Past is a grand return for Singer to the world of X-Men, but it isn’t without its flaws. Still, fans of the films ought to find lots to love about this outing, and Singer’s direction, driven by wonderful acting from the core cast, easily makes this one of the standout chapters of the ever-growing X-Men franchise.
– John DiBiase, (reviewed: 5/23/14)
Parental Guide: Content Summary
Sex/Nudity: When Logan wakes up in the past, he finds that he’s in bed with a woman and we see him roll out of bed and stand up, giving the audience a full view of his bare butt; Mystique is frequently seen in a mostly nude form with just blue paint covering her body; A man tells Raven to take her clothes off. She opens a fur coat to reveal her dress which then turns into the blue Mystique skin.
Vulgarity/Language: 1 “F” word, About 6 “S” words, 1 “J-sus,” 1 “g*dd*mn,” 10 “h*ll,” 2 “*ssh*le,” 1 “a” word, 3 “d*mn,” 1 “G-d,” 1 “Oh my G-d”
Alcohol/Drugs: Young Charles is shown drinking quite often and even appears intoxicated; We see young Charles and young Erik drinking on a plane. Erik comments that he hadn’t had a drink in about a decade; Others have drinks randomly throughout the film
Blood/Gore: We see some scars on people’s faces, particularly what appears to be an “M” carved into a person’s face; We see piles of dead bodies, corpses, and skeletons–the remains of murdered mutants and their human supporters; We see a flashback of Trask taking a bullet to his forehead. We see him fall to the ground in slow motion with some blood around the wound on his forehead; As Sentinels attack a group of mutants, they assume the powers of the mutants they face. This leads to them overpowering and killing them. One firey hero is choked to death while a man made of ice is decapitated. We see Colossus quickly subdued while another character explodes in a ball of fire; We see a little bit of blood in the water as Beast fights Erik; Logan is bare-chested when he’s shot with multiple bullets. We then see the bullets push out of his chest and drop to the ground with some blood around the wounds; Mystique is shot in the calf and we see a close-up of the bloody wound and then see the bullet pulled out by Erik; We see a slow-motion shot of a bullet enter one part of a man’s neck and then exit almost immediately out another part, with bloody results; Mystique finds a series of headshot photographs of autopsy reports from deceased mutants. As such, we see black-and-white photographs of some mutants with V-shaped stitching on their bodies and some other deformities on their faces; We see another Sentinel/mutant fight where Colossus is literally pulled in half (but when he’s in his metallic form) and another mutant is blasted until he explodes. We then seen another mutant impaled by three large spikes, killing them; After being pinned by a fallen structure, Charles has some blood on him; Magneto sends metal rebar twisting throughout Wolverine’s body so we see it sticking out of him as he screams; We see a drop of blood on the ground being sampled with a cotton swab; We see some quick flashbacks to previous X-Men films involving Wolverine’s past, including some shots of him screaming and covered in blood.
Violence: Lots of comic book action violence. Some of it includes: In the future, we see war-torn cities with massive devastation. We see piles of dead bodies, corpses, and skeletons–the remains of murdered mutants and their human supporters; We hear about Mystique having assassinated Dr. Trask and we see a flashback of Trask taking a bullet to his forehead and falling over; We hear that Magneto may have assassinated JFK; As Sentinels attack a group of mutants, they assume the powers of the mutants they face. This leads to them overpowering and killing them. One firey hero is choked to death while a man made of ice is decapitated. We see Colossus quickly subdued while another character explodes in a ball of fire; Wolverine is shot at, but we see the bullet holes heal up. He then attacks his attackers, stabbing them with his pre-adamantium claws of bone; Beast attacks Wolverine when he shows up at the school. He tosses Wolverine around a bit; Charles tries Cerebro but it short-circuits and he screams; Quicksilver shatters glass imprisoning Erik and rescues him. Before they can escape with Wolverine and Charles, some police show up, so Quicksilver races around to sabotage the fight; Erik gets angry on an airplane, nearly causing it to crash; Mystique and some other mutants fight a bunch of soldiers in a camp; Mystique knocks a guy unconscious by holding her foot to his throat; They stop Mystique from killing Trask, but Erik tries to shoot her, so Mystique jumps out a window. He then sends a bullet into her calf and we see a close-up of the bloody wound and then see the bullet pulled out by Erik; Beast fights Erik in a fountain, nearly drowning him. Erik retaliates by tying up Beast with metal poles; Erik strips a railway of its metal rails and lines some Sentinel robots with the metal. We later see him manipulating them and having them open fire on a crowd; Erik lifts an entire stadium with his powers and transports it to another location, causing a few car accidents and mass destruction; We see a slow-motion shot of a bullet enter one part of a man’s neck and then exit almost immediately out another part, with bloody results; Mystique finds a series of headshot photographs of autopsy reports from deceased mutants. As such, we see black-and-white photographs of some mutants with V-shaped stitching on their bodies and some other deformities on their faces; We see another Sentinel/mutant fight where Colossus is literally pulled in half (but when he’s in his metallic form) and another mutant is blasted until he explodes. We then seen another mutant impaled by three large spikes, killing them; Charles is pinned by a large structure while Beast is trapped in a car as a Sentinel attacks him; Magneto sends metal rebar twisting throughout Wolverine’s body so we see it sticking out of him as he screams. He then tosses Wolverine into the water; We see some quick violent flashbacks from Wolverine’s past and scenes from the previous films; And other sci-fi, comic book violence.