Nutshell: I give X-Men: DoFP a D, for dull, depressing and disappointing. If I want to be bummed out at a movie theater, I’ll buy stale popcorn and go with my ex. A complete waste of Peter Dinkalge and his fabulous prØnstache, as well as the combined talents of a cast that deserved better than this mishmosh. See how crazy busy the poster is? The movie is just like it. Stay past the credits for a peek at the next film, which is better in it’s brief seconds than all that went before it.
Wellp y’all, here it is; the new X-Men film that everyone (including yours truly) has been chomping at the bit for. And now that it’s here? It’s hella disappointing. Have other critics blown smoke up this film’s…celluloid? Absolutely. But for movie lovers that are looking for more than a cut-n-paste plot with the odd tidbit of fannish fun, it’s best to re-watch First Class.
Picture it: Earth, in the kinda-but-not-too distant future. Crazy-cool looking grey alien-like robots called Sentinels are decimating the word’s population of mutants, and human sympathizers. When a handful of the very last mutants — including Professor X and Magneto — are cornered, it’s up to Kitty Pryde to
go back in time send Wolverine’s current consciousness into his 1973 bod, in the hopes that His Royal *Snick*-ness can bring the band back together Eric (Magneto) and Charles (Professor X) to a point where they don’t want to kill each other, and instead save the world. That means stopping Mystique from killing the developer of the Sentinels, Dr. Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage, with the best movie mustache since Burt Reynolds). Easy, right? Well, butterfly effect, time-is-like-a-river-that-forever-rights-itself, yada yada, and boom; things aren’t that cut and dry.
Sure, the original Days of Future Past was first done in comic books, and is still an extremely popular X-Men story. But in the comic books, it’s Kitty that takes the trip back in time…but unfortunately Ellen Page’s Kitty would have been a zygote in her momma’s eye back then. Ergo, put in Wolverine! He never ages, and it’s freakin’ Hugh Jackman! And while it’s true that Jackman easily slips into Logan’s skin, Simon Kinberg’s (Sherlock Holmes) screenplay is so choppy it feels like chunks have gone missing, and that does seem to be the case.
Not because the story regularly bops from Sentinel Future to 1973, but because DoFP assumes you’ve kept up with every bit of X-Men, from the past films to the comic books, tv series to the videogames. If you’ve got that kind of knowledge, all the little bits of exposition that the film should have had in order to make the bulk of these characters memorable/worth rooting for? No mas. It’s a convoluted mess that takes no time to introduce anything to it’s audience. Hey look, we’ve got it all multi-cultural mutants up in here! Yeah, that’s nice, and I’ve always liked Bishop and Warpath. But mutants other than the Fab 5 (Wolverine, Professor X, Magneto, Mystique and Beast) are given very, very, VERY little to do other than 1) attempt to kick Sentinel ass, and/or 2) look at the camera and all but wink in a conspiratorial “yeah, you see me, you bet I’m here!” kinda way. (Tip: read The Wire’s excellent X-Men 101 for the basics that’ll help you better enjoy the story here.)
What really disappointed me is that there’s so much potential with this series. Instead, they rely on quick flashes here and there, with director Bryan Singer assuming all will be forgiven if he packs it into the Blu-Ray when all is said and done. It’s a pity, because Michael Fassbender (Young Magneto/Eric), James McAvoy (Young Charles/Professor X), and Jennifer Lawrence (Raven/Mystique) are all excellent here, and are given much to work with as far as Acting-with-a-capital-A goes. Eric must decide if he’s willing to help humanity by helping mutants. Charles must find the courage to carry on after being paralyzed. Raven not only has to figure out what side she’s on, but she has to decide how important it is to take revenge for the death of people she loved. There’s a scene where Raven stumbles across autopsy photos — seems Trask created his Sentinels by any means necessary — and Lawrence kills it without a single word of dialogue. “She’s the flavor of the month”? I call bullshit on that.
If you’re in the theater and confused about which one’s the all-important Kitty Pryde? Not to worry. In DoFP she’s the chick that’s trying to get Wolverine back in time. Didn’t catch her name? That’s because nobody talks to her. And with the opening scene, there’s too much going on for anyone to know the name of any of the mutants without knowing their backstory beforehand. Same goes for Iceman, Bishop, Colossus, Sunspot, Warpath, Havok, Toad, Ink…the list of tossed-in X-Men: Days of Future Past is an embarrassment of riches that was embarrassingly given little to nothing to do besides show up. One exception; Even Peters as 1973’s Quicksilver, all ‘tude and speed. Peters does low-key very well, as he’s proven time and time again in American Horror Story. But it’s nice to see him literally amp things up and play a guy that’s powerful and knows it. His mid-story assist to Wolverine, Charles and Eric is a hoot, and are the best scenes in the film.
As far as the film itself, you can take a pass on the 3D; the Sentinel battle scenes are amazing enough, even though DoFP was actually shot in 3D rather than converting it in post. After the film, after all the credits, there’s a whiff of X-Men: Age of Apocalypse. Don’t miss it, it’s your reward for sitting through all that came before. Pyramid Tetris is the best y’all!