As the latest attempt to boost the franchise which was started 14 years ago, “X-Men: Days of Future Past” is a fairly entertaining film which mixes old things and new things through a familiar science fiction premise involved with a grim dystopian future to come and an urgent time travel to prevent it. This is not exactly fresh, but the movie is fun and exciting despite some shaky spots in its plot, and it does a nice job of cleaning its playground for, yes, another sequel to come.
As briefly implied at the end of “The Wolverine”(2013), mutants come to face their biggest crisis in the future, and it is not a good news for ordinary humans either. High-tech robots called Sentinels are developed to detect and exterminate mutants, and the human society is turned into a harsh, barren world not so different from the future world shown in Terminator films. While many of them are mercilessly killed as a result, mutants have resisted against this oppression with their superpowers for years, but they are losing the war day by day, and it seems the end is near for all of surviving mutants.
But there is still a chance to change everything, and Charles Xavior/Professor X(Patrick Stewart) and Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto(Ian McKellen), two leading mutant figures who unite together despite their long history of antagonism, are ready to fight for that along with other mutants. They send Logan/Wolverine(Hugh Jackman) to 1973 to prevent one historical turning point, and it is Wolverine’s job to convince young Xavior(James McAvoy) and young Lehnsherr(Michael Fassbender) to help him changing the course of history for the future of mutants and humans.
That historical incident in question was associated with Dr. Bolivar Trask(Peter Dinklage, who incidentally(and ironically) has a FGFR3 gene mutation which causes his dwarfism), and he was the one who designed the first model of Sentinels as the weapons against possible threats from mutants. After Raven/Mystique(Jennifer Lawrence), a blue shape-shifter mutant who can disguise herself into anyone including Lawrence, assassinated him during the Paris Peace Accords in 1973, his project was fully approved by the US government as a consequence, and that was the first small but important step toward the annihilation of mutants.
When Logan comes to young Xavier for help, Xavier is not particularly in good mood to help Logan. After what happened during the climax of “X-Men: First Class”(2011), he becomes bitter and morose while leading the life of a recluse, and he is also addicted to a special serum developed by his trustful assistant Hank/Beast(Nicholas Hoult). The serum enables him to overcome his spinal injury and to walk normally as before, but it also inhibits his immense ability to read and control others’ minds.
Logan manages to persuade Xavier to work together with Lehnsherr to stop Raven from killing Trask, but old hard feelings are still remained between Xavier and Lehnsherr, and they also have different opinions on how the circumstance should be handled. Xavier, who was once very close to Raven in the past, thinks she can be persuaded if they try, but Lehnsherr, who has been incarcerated under maximum caution after being arrested for assassinating President Kennedy, thinks of a more drastic way because, in his view, the survival of their species must be secured by any means necessary, even if that means killing a woman who chose to go with him instead of staying with Xavier.
The director Bryan Singer, who started the franchise with “X-Men”(2000) and “X2”(2003), maintains the dramatic momentum well throughout the running time, and the movie provides several nice action sequences with interesting choices of styles. The Pentagon building sequence is handled with a cheerful mood reminiscent of those lightweight caper films, and it eventually culminates into a humorous slow-motion shot involved with Peter/Quicksilver(Evan Peters), a teenager mutant who helps Logan and Xavier through his ability to move very quickly within a few seconds. The climax sequence features a big stadium lifted above Washington D.C. by Lehnsherr’s magnetic power, and that is just one of many things in the movie to remind us that its 20th century world is a sort of alternative world to ours. As far as I know, nothing shocking happened during the Paris Peace Accords in our history, and we all know there was not anything more disastrous than the Watergate Scandal during the Nixon presidency, but I guess I should not be serious about that.
The cast mainly consists of the actors who appeared in the previous X-men movies, and they adequately fill their roles as they did before. Michael Fassbender, who was the best thing in “X-Men: First Class”, magnetizes every scene of his again with dark, smoldering intensity, and James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, and Nicholas Hoult are competent in their respective roles, though I cannot help but think that these talented actors all had better times in other films. Besides Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen, and Patrick Stewart, we also meet several cast members from the first three X-men movies, and their presence is welcoming although most of them appear briefly.
Since I watched its first movie at the campus during my first year of undergraduate course, the X-men series has gone through several ups and downs during last 14 years. After hitting the lowest point with “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”(2009), the series started to recover with “X-Men: First Class”, and “X-Men: Days of Future Past” shows us that the series still has some potential to entertain us. Maybe because I have been rather tired of superhero films in these days, I am not very enthusiastic about the movie while finding that its story feels weak and unfocused at times, but, as a blockbuster film which cares about interactions between characters as much as actions, it is good enough for us to have some expectation for whatever will come next.
Sidenote: I saw the 2D version – and I did not feel any need to watch it in 3D.