There will be spoilers in this review.

I’ve always loved the X-Men. I’d been reading the comics for a little while before X-Men: The Animated Series, but damn that was a great show, wasn’t it? I’m impressed with how much it managed to cover in a simple cartoon. More accurately than the movies in a way too, but that’s neither here nor there. I love the idea of the X-Men, the outcasts hated for who they are, which is strange in a world where superheroes are beloved, but oh no, don’t be a mutant. Yes we love the Avengers and Fantastic Four who are just as dangerous as you guys, but you’re the real problem! It’s no secret that the X-Men are a metaphor for any minority that is openly feared or hated by people for no other reason than existing. I did like X-Men and X-2, both directed by Bryan Singer, and so people were very excited when he signed up for Days of Future Past. X-3 and the subsequent Wolverine sequels were met by lukewarm receptions, although X-3 really is what did it, turning a franchise into a joke. Not unlike Spider-Man 3, what’s up with the thirds? Maybe people are just tired of it by then. So I enjoyed the first two movies, although I was tired of Wolverine after only a few installments. Let me be clear: Hugh Jackman is fantastic. I love him. I love his portrayal. I generally like Wolverine. There’s just a point where I’m tired of him being the lead in everything, and other characters getting the shaft. I get he’s the big name and draw, but for me, it’s old. YAWN.

Days of Future Past is one of the most famous stories in comic history. I read it probably younger than I should have, considering how dark and depressing it is, but I was a huge Kitty Pryde fan so it was inevitable. Like everyone else I think it’s incredible, so when this movie was announced, I was hugely skeptical. When the huge cast was announced, I was more skeptical. I wanted to see all of the X-Men. I wanted to see the bleak future. I wanted more of First Class. But I didn’t think it was possible for them to pull off the storyline with that many characters to juggle. I am so pleased to be proven wrong. I think that’s basically why the movie is doing so well with the critics. It is a good movie, don’t get me wrong, but at least some part of the positive reaction is because we expected it to fail hard. I’ll get to an analysis later, first, a movie summary.

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The story starts in the dystopian future. Mutants and mutant sympathizers have been gathered up by the human elite and killed or captured by machines called the Sentinels. Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) has been saving her companions by using time travel. Um. Okay. Listen this is something I’m going to have to accept and move past, because no. She can’t do that. In the comics it was Rachel Summers, but obviously that isn’t an option here. So Kitty sends one of them back long enough they can warn themselves before the attack happens. The last remaining survivors get together and old Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) says they need to send someone so far back that they can stop the future from happening. It all hinged on one place, where Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) was killed. He created the Sentinels and his death led people to take his work seriously and made it happen. Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) killed him, and they used her shapeshifting powers to make it so the Sentinels could adapt to any super power thrown at them. They figure out that only Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) can survive going back that far, so he has to find the young Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and persuade him to help. Old Magneto (Ian McKellen) insists his younger self (Michael Fassbender) has to come too, that they need to be unified to convince her to stop. I already thought this was a bad idea, and boy was I right, but I get it, they need him in the movie.

Wolverine goes back and finds his own normal body, luckily he’s not too far from where all of this is happening. He also has his bone claws, the adamantium hadn’t been put on him yet. He goes back to 1973, and it’s been years since First Class happened. Mystique is angry because Trask has been taking mutants and experimenting on them until they die, including some of her old teammates like Angel and Banshee. Harsh! Alex Summers (Lucas Till) is seen very briefly and then gone, which was a disappointment. Wolverine has to convince a young Xavier who is miserable and drunk, and something of a drug addict, since he needs a drug to make him walk but it blocks his powers. Oookay. I feel like that’s just a plot device and so McAvoy could walk around more. He still has Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult) around to help him out, and he can now control his powers the same way. Sigh. Here’s another place I have to go ‘whatever’ and move on. Eventually Wolverine does manage to get Xavier out by pointing out that Mystique needs him, they were adopted siblings, but they need to break Magneto out of his prison. He assassinated JFK, so he’s underneath the Pentagon. Randomly Wolverine knows a speedster named Peter (Evan Peters) who can help them. How exactly did he know him? This is Quicksilver, although it’s never said in the movie. He is nothing like his comic counterpart outside of the powers and hair. This isn’t a bad thing since he’s the real comic relief, at least for a part of the film, and his scene breaking Magneto out is super fun. But then he’s sent off to … not help anymore? Oh come on guys.

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They finally make it to the day that Raven killed Trask, and she’s about to kill him when they come in. The thing is, Magneto decides she’s too dangerous to live, so he plans on murdering her. That was a surprise at first, but then I wondered why I was surprised. He’s a bad guy. They do a good job at making him ambiguous, but this makes perfect sense considering he thinks mutant survival is more important than anything. Oh Erik. Mystique is injured but gets away, and Wolverine is put out of commission when he sees Stryker (Josh Helman), who gave him the adamantium, alive and around. Whoops. So now Xavier has to use his powers again and go back to the chair to try and find Mystique. He struggles at first but after a pep talk from his older self in the future (it sounds dumb but it works in context), he finds her. He is unable to persuade her, and now mutants are public because everyone saw Magneto trying to kill her. Trask’s plans for the Sentinels are in movement. The President is making a speech about the threat, and Xavier is there to stop Mystique, but then Magneto comes along with an entire football stadium. Yup. He slams it down so everyone’s trapped within it.

The future is bleak as they all start dying after a Sentinel attack, so the clock is ticking. Wolverine is put out of commission and thrown into the water where he’s trapped. Xavier is down, Hank is down, and Magneto declares to the cameras this is what happens when they mess with mutants. Until Mystique masquerades as the President and defeats Magneto. The world sees a mutant protect humans, and the Sentinels were controlled by Magneto, so they were dropped. Everyone goes to their individual paths, and the future doesn’t happen. Instead Wolverine wakes up with all his memories (how? This still makes no real sense) and he is amazed to see all his friends alive and well. Especially the cameo by Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) and Scott Summers (James Marsden). AW. I will admit I smiled like an idiot at that. So X-3 and the Wolverine sequels never happened. Now he keeps his bone claws. Interesting! There is no word at the end what happened with Magneto and Mystique from there though, so I’ll be interested to see in the next movie, Apocalypse, where they’re at. They teased Apocalypse at the end, which wasn’t a huge surprise since they already announced the film.

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This was a very difficult story to pull off, with a lot of pieces in movement, and I’d say overall they did an excellent job. It helps that they have so many excellent actors involved, especially Jennifer Lawrence who is a big star now and carries the biggest story on her shoulders. She is the centerpiece, and I really liked how they handled it. You understand where she’s coming from, but root for her to take the right path instead. And she’s still left in an ambiguous middle road at the end. Fassbender and McAvoy continue their chemistry. Jackman did have a part in it, but I actually think he was less involved than it seemed. Like he was in a lot of the movie, but he wasn’t playing the lead exactly, the best stories in the movie were the others, and I appreciate that. I am a little sad that Dinklage didn’t get more to do as Trask. I feel like understanding his character more would have given the villain weight. I wasn’t too fond of the design of the Sentinels, but I get the original design probably would look clunky and silly now. Overall it did feel like an X-Man story. Lots of characters, lots of powers, some good heart and development, and more emotional depth than I expected. I came out of it smiling. There are some flaws, I mentioned them above, but this is an example of when it’s easy to shrug off flaws because the film itself works. Sure they could’ve done this and that differently, but the end result was good. Oh and I loved the few nods to the time period. The clothing and hair made me laugh out loud. I like how they used some historical parts for the plot, not unlike how they did the same in First Class. Also while we didn’t get to see a lot about the future mutants, I loved the ones they added in and how they showed the powers. Blink and Bishop, for example, and Sunspot. The nerd in me is smiling all over again.

I wonder how they’re going to go about the next movie, and I heard there might be another Wolverine movie so I rolled my eyes. But I am interested in this new timeline! Rogue was still there and still had her powers, how many things changed? I hope we get some information about that. Overall, I was very pleased, and I went in with low expectations. They exceeded them.

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