X-Men: Days of Future Past (PG-13)

The "X-Men" franchise has been spinning its wheel in the mud for a little while. Ever since "X-Men: The Last Stand" the series has lost a whole lot of steam; but leave it to returning director Bryan Singer to reunite everything in a very entertaining, if totally ridiculous and unsatisfactory sequel.
The biggest question that rode on my mind as I went to see the movie was the necessity of seeing the other "X-Men" movies. Would you be lost if this was your first one? I think the answer is yes. To be fair ,if you're familiar with the characters and the approximate timeline of everything you should be fine, I'm not sure what would happen if you weren't.
"X-Men: Days of Future Past" begins on a wind-blow mountain top. A group of mutants are there and are being hunted. Without  divulging too much of the gory details, huge robot transformer-like creatures have been created to hunt down and exterminate mutants. As the last of the last are snuffed out, Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellen) hatch a plan using Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page).
Kitty's abilities involve being able to walk through walls and transport someone's consciousness into the past...what? That's a convenient little side power that I don't remember from the previous movies, but maybe I'm just being forgetful. Anyhow, they decide to send a mutant back to stop a crucial moment in history from happening. Unfortunately, the only mutant that can survive the trip back to the 70s is Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) because of his unique ability to heal quickly.
But to prevent the event from happening, he's going to need help from the two people who couldn't hate each other more at the moment: Charles Xavier (James McAvoy and Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender). Reuniting the two of them and bringing about world peace is not as easy as it sounds.
"X-Men: Days of Future Past" has many things going right for it, the most obvious one is the Evan Thomas as Quicksilver and the resulting graphics that give us some of the best scenes in the movie.
Another good decision is the casting of Peter Dinklage as Dr. Bolivar Trask, the man who invented the robots that hunt mutants. The graphics are all solid and the loss of life is given its full respect.
But the movie is rife with bad decisions as well, the way that Charles teeters back and forth from empathetic genius to tormented soul really doesn't fit into the action movie.
The most obvious and unforgivable sin of the movie is how is treats Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique. I'm not talking chauvinistic terms here simply because she's naked and blue; I'm talking about using her as a plot device. Everything important revolves around her character and I for one preferred Rebecca Romijn as the iconic baddie. Lawrence is fine here, but the movie gives Raven/Mystique way too much power and screen time. Instead of a movie about overcoming prejudices (which, to be honest, is the whole purpose of the franchise) it becomes a slightly off-kilter, spotlight hogging orgy of weird.
Also, don't think about the timeline too much, because there are holes that are sure to be found there.
All that being said, Bryan Singer evokes a certain amount of class within the movie. There is a continuous momentum to the film which almost never lets up, this is helped along by the constant pulling in and out of the camera.
The beginning ten minutes are spectacular and the last three are really great. The time in between is full of drug commentary, gay rights commentary, and James McAvoy losing his mind.
Fassbender is a great actor, we all know that; but surprisingly it's Hugh Jackman who commands this movie with a calm and much less Wolverine-ish presence. It's good to see some of the angst get cut down in the series.
So yes, I have big problems with the movie and how overly sentimental it is, how its cheesy dialogue punctuates the important parts, and how historical figures get placed into the movie.
But the movie is very entertaining and a high-action thriller above all else. Including all its faults, the movie's message rings true of the series: be yourself; and I find that a very important message and worthy of all the fancy fireworks and high explosions.

Score: ★★½

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