Maybe it’s because I’ve seen three Marvel adaptations in the last eight weeks or so, but I was wholly unimpressed with the latest X-Men film (the fifth, sixth, or seventh, depending on whether you count Wolverine’s outings), subtitled Days of Future Passed (do the Moody Blues get anything for stealing that title?) I haven’t loved any of the X-Men outings, except for maybe the first one, feeling that they just try too hard and overwhelm the viewer with gravitas with a capital G.
I have seen them all, though, somehow. In this one, which returns original helmer Bryan Singer to the director’s chair, we get all of the iterations of X-Men in one fell swoop–the original group, with old Professor X (Patrick Stewart)and Storm and old Magneto (Ian McKellen); the second wave, with Colossus and Kitty Pryde, etc.; the third wave, Iceman and Havok and some I forgot about, and the younger version of the originals, with James McAvoy as Professor X, Michael Fassbender as Magneto and Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique. Of course, Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) ties it all together. What are they going to do when Jackman says he’s had enough?
The plot, which was taken from a two-issue Uncanny X-Men story from about 1980, is a hash of Back to the Future and The Terminator. In 2023, robots have hunted mutants almost into extinction. The remaining few, including Stewart, McKellen and Pryde (Ellen Page) figure that the turning point was in 1973, when Mystique assassinated a weapons inventor (Peter Dinklage), which ignited anti-mutant fervor and led to the development of the weapons. The brain trust decides to send Jackman back into the past (he’s the only one strong enough to make the trip, though it’s really because he’s the marketable one) to stop Mystique.
(SPOILERS!)So just what is going on here? I’ve read one explanation on EW.com that suggests that this means that everything that happened in other X-Men movies now doesn’t exist. Or is that this horrible future was an alternative one, and Wolverine going back resets it to the one we know? That can’t be, though: because Professor X was dead at the end of Last Stand, and Magneto had lost his powers. (END SPOILERS)
Anyway, besides the inherent time-travel paradoxes, this film is just too assaultive. I wish they would introduce these minor characters with title cards, or better yet, they should wear nametags. I had no idea who the Asian chick that create portals was, or the dreadlocked guy. From the credits I learned they were Blink and Bishop. Have I seen them before? If so, they made no impression. What happened to Nightcrawler?
Then the film just has one loud scene after another. McAvoy and Jackman free an imprisoned Fassbender from the Pentagon, with the help of the lad who will one day be Quicksilver (who is also a character in the next Avengers movie, without being a mutant). The scene in which Quicksilver is shown disabling the guards from his point of view, set to Jim Croce’s “Time in a Bottle,” is one of the few times in the film I was engaged).
Then there’s the climax, which has Fassbender dumping a baseball stadium on top of the White House and attempting to kill Nixon (he was jailed for killing Kennedy, but he tells us he was trying to save him–JFK, it turns out, was a mutant. I wonder what his power was). Can anyone tell me why actors who play Nixon are given such horrible makeup jobs? This guy looks more like Chris Christie than Nixon.
I didn’t actively dislike this film, instead I’m just sort of meh about it. The acting is acceptable for comic book films, though some don’t get much to do. Page spends most of the movie holding her hands to Jackman’s head, and Halle Berry comes back as Storm and does her thing, which is look to the sky and roll her eyes in the back of her head. Kudos to Anna Paquin’s agent, who gets her top billing for a one-second cameo.
My grade for X-Men: Days of Future Passed: C.