X-Men: Days of Future Past Review

5/23/2014 Stephen Colbert 0 Comments



The X-Men Franchise has been through some twists and turns since the original X-Men movie in 2000. X-Men did the difficult job of being one of the first of the modern generation of comic-book movies. Prior to X-Men, the most "popular" comic-book movies were creations of Joel Schumacher.  Definitely a low bar to set, but the entire genre has been turned on its head since then, starting with X-Men.

It was followed by X2: X-Men United, which was clearly finding its legs.  After that, the series took a confusing turn, with X-Men: The Last stand throwing most of the momentum out the window and then X-Men Origins: Wolverine also creating some confusing continuity errors.

When Matthew Vaughn came in for X-Men: First class, he worked with Simon Kinberg to create one of the better X-Men stories to date, but in the process, made the entire timeline so convoluted the franchise as a whole made little sense.  The Wolverine did help to turn the ship around in many ways, but was also a flawed movie.  In retrospect, Days of Future Past was really the only option left.

X-Men: Days of Future Past starts in the future, years after X-Men: The Last Stand, where the mutants are being hunted down and exterminated or put in camps.  The only option left is to send Wolverine's mind into his 1973 body in order to try to alter the timeline to prevent the apocalyptic war of the future.  It ironically serves as a great metaphor for the entire franchise as well.

This movie is nothing without the writing.  Simon Kinberg and Matthew Vaughn created something that works for both the hardcore fans and the uninitiated.  The crafting of this screenplay is so deft that it makes most of the Marvel Studio films feel clumsy.  Don't get me wrong, I love me some Avengers, but every name drop and every easter egg lacks subtlety.  A moviegoer could walk into DoFP without having seen any other X-Men movie and enjoy it nearly as much as a fan that has seen all the previous movies and read the comics.

This is the first comic book script I've seen since The Dark Knight where I didn't feel like the writers were treating me like a child.  The plot was complex and the movie was paced well enough that I never felt like any one point (or easter egg) was dwelled on for too long.

The characters were also very well done.  The cast was so diverse and unique.  It's easy for some characters to be under used or neglected.  I'm not going to say there weren't characters that deserved more screen time, but everyone had their moment to be useful.  All of the powers were smartly incorporated and every character contributed screen time, action, and heart to this movie.  Even if they were only on the screen for 5 seconds, they accomplished their purpose.

Outside of the writing for the characters, I have tremendous respect for all of the actors that put time into this movie.  Some of them were headline characters in previous installments and had less than 5 minutes of screen time in this film, but it wouldn't have been the same without them.  It was clearly a labor of love by everyone involved.  Especially by those that sacrificed screen time for other story elements to be developed.

It's very difficult to review this movie in much more depth without getting into some detailed spoilers for the entire franchise.  Normally I tell people to catch up before running to the theater, but this is a unique movie, partially due to the time travel nature), that you can watch, understand, and enjoy regardless of viewing order.

I'll try to get another spoiler filled review up soon so I can break down some of the bigger details.  Consider this review a stamp of approval, though.  Go watch this movie.

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