(PCM) – This is a detailed spoiler-free review of X-Men Days of Future Past. X-Men’s Days of Future Past is far from canon depicted in the original Marvel comic two part series The Uncanny X-Men #141 & #142. Unlike Spider-Man’s convolution of canon, the changes in the celluloid X-Men universe work on many levels. Perhaps most intriguing is that it changes the outcome of past X-Men movies without making them obsolete. In comic books this is called re-birth, in this film franchise it’s brilliant.
This is the seventh film in the X-Men franchise since 2000. (X-Men, X2, X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, X-Men: First Class and The Wolverine).
After 14 years the franchise has made the most of all the preceding good and bad X-Men films. With Bryan Singer back at the helm, great care and regard for the X-Men characters has resulted in movie magic on par with 2012′s Avenger’s.
It can be hard for any true believer to watch any X-Men movie as they will have to accept the source material is being obliterated on film. A glaring example is protagonist time traveler Kitty Pryde is replaced by Wolverine. Forget that some hard core skeptics reject nuances such as Wolverine is much taller in film than his print counterpart. Hugh Jackman’s portrayal of Wolverine may never quite match the essence of his anti-hero print version, but does it matter? Hugh Jackman has made Wolverine one of the best known X-Men characters in the modern day.
These questions and more could plague the X-Men franchise but oddly enough, they do not. There are other alternate characters in film version of Days of Future Past that would convolute the print storyline. This too upset die-hard readers prior to the film’s release. Dedicated readers remained unsettled up to the day Days of Future Past opened. The concerns should be quelled. Despite all the many changes in film to X-Men Days of Future Past, the changes work. In fact it plays much better than print. Yes, it’s true, the shared universe on film is a more palatable experience for most.
In the history of X-Men comics, the print universe has loads of changes, rebirths, continuity restructuring and more. Changes such as deaths, and magical returns take place because publishers historically believed their reading audience rolled over every six to eight years. Why bother worrying if you kill a character – he/she can be brought back at any time with senseless reasoning. In film most all these discontinuities don’t exist as film franchises have a true limited lifetime.
Ironically this X-Men film has reset its entire existence due to this time traveling masterstroke. Days of Future Past was a simple two comic publication. Written in 1981 by Chris Claremont and John Byrne for Marvel, it’s premise was simple yet it included a fun ominous threat to the X-Men. Sentinels. Created to manage the possible threat by mutants to society Sentinels became a future world power that threatened humanity itself. The X-Men were eventually pushed to the brink of annihilation and a last ditch effort in time travel to avoid the creation of Sentinels became a pivotal story in the X-Men universe. Who traveled back in time and how they saved the day can be told countless ways.
As a retelling of the comic issues Days of Future Past (#141–#143), the changes and choices in film highly improve on that beloved story to comic book faithful. Honestly, did anyone really want to see Kitty Pryde time travel? Wolverine is a franchise character with an actor (Hugh Jackman) everyone loves in the role. Moreover Wolverine’s abilities made him the best choice for going back in time to save the future. One strange inconsistency of print to film is the Mystique and Nightcrawler relationship. Few know that Mystique is Nightcrawler’s mother.
This is not to say flaws like this can’t be forgiven but it’s contrary to how faithful directors such as Bryan Singer have attempted to stay to the X-Men universe. Nitpicking aside, why not have Nightcrawler back? You can’t have them all return is the answer.
Days of Future Past has everything in the blockbuster movie category. There is solid use of action, balanced execution of computer generated graphics (CGI), character use, and perhaps almost unheard of in recent contemporary films — dramatic tension. An important component is X-Men Days of Future Past works as a standalone film. Nothing in Days of Future Past requires previous viewing. If you’ve seen all the other X-Men films, (what fanboy hasn’t,) they do make Days of Future Past even more enjoyable. This is a hugely ambitions film, and due to the scope of the ambition a few continuity issues exist. Rather than expose them – it’s best to just understand that it’s easy to look beyond them if you come across continuity errors. Similar to movies such as the Avengers this team up film makes stunning use of historical characters who have aged while introducing new characters. Perhaps the most enjoyable in Days of Future Past is Quicksilver.
He’s a D list character, and in the power scale rating of one to five, he’s a perhaps a two at best. Yet any mutant or meta with super human skills is still superhuman. What’s interesting isn’t just the take on him as a free spirit. It’s how his power is showcased. Quicksilver almost steals the film at the midpoint of the story. Soak up the scene, it’s a laugh — sure to put a smile on your face as you witness it play out in bullet time (an extreme transformation of time from something that took place very fast, to slow motion). Quicksilver may not warrant his own film but his time on screen leaves you wanting more, and isn’t that what great entertainment is all about?
Now with Marvel’s two ensemble films as top grossing films in history, it’s safe to say team up films can and do work and more will come. Marvel is on the right track, DC has yet to find its feet in this arena. The only pitfall to be seen from this great film is that it now throws a wrench into Avengers, Age of Ultron storyline. It too is a film where the past has to undo the future. Days of Future past has effectively beat Age of Ultron to the punch. However, Age of Ultron may have been more popular in the comic book universe making it possibly a more eagerly awaited film among fanboy elitist.
In video games a games rating is largely decided by ‘replay value’. How many times can you return to the game and play it again? The more often you can, the higher the score. This applies to movie ratings too. Some films you watch in awe and while they are great stories, can you watch them over and over while still enjoying the story being retold despite knowing the outcome of each scene? Monty Python and the Holy Grail comes to mind in the comedy category. Days of Future Past has some solid re-watch value and not simply to pause at home and scan scenes for Easter Eggs. It’s well worth adding to a video library and a must for any comic book collector.
A huge bonus is the outcome of the story sets a remarkable future of the franchise. Unlike Spider-Man being rebooted, if X-Men wanted to reboot at this time, it wouldn’t destroy the past work or make it something you had to imagine never happened. That’s something new and unique that makes then entire X-Men franchise a completed story to date.
SKIP THIS SECTION IF YOU DO NOT WANT THE END CREDITS TEASER EXPLAINED
Yes there is a bonus post credits teaser. It’s a tough one that unless you are a comic book reader, you’ll find impossible to figure out. So you have a choice of skipping this spoiler of the post credit teaser or you can read on. First there will be an image here showing WHO you are seeing at the end as that depiction will show little resemblance of the character show below. After that image you can read the detailed explanation should you want it explained.
It is Apocalypse. In the X-Men universe he is considered the first mutant. The scene is 5,000 years ago in ancient Egypt. You see a younger Apocalypse using his mutant power to assemble the pyramids with his mind while thousands of worshipers chant his name “En Sabah Nur,” which means “The First One”. As noted, he is the first mutant. At this stage En Sabah Nur or Apocalypse has not yet reached his true potential or gathered further abilities augmenting his already almost omnipotent power. It is merely a tiny glimpse into his backstory and in no way implies the next installment of X-Men will take place 5,000 years in the past.
The fact is there will be two more X-Men films to come, with Apocalypse being next. A future installment will include a cross over with the Fantastic Four as both franchises are licensed to Fox for the time being and as it’s become obvious, superhero films are now all the rage and ensembles are found to be huge money makers in this modern day.
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