Morphin' at the Movies: X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
It's amazing what you can find in the DVD bargain bin of a supermarket if you have the patience to wade through the countless mockbusters, B-movies, schlock compilations, direct-to-video kiddie flicks and Adam Sandler films. In fact, most of the movies I own come from the bargain bin.
It's been since September since I've done one of these. Let's get the ball rolling, shall we?
However, today's film I found in the bargain bin by pure dumb luck, as it apparently wasn't even supposed to be in there. After doing a little negotiation with the guy behind the counter, he reduced the price to the $3.74 promised on the bargain bin, leaving just enough for me to buy two other films.
Today's film is, as the title suggests, X-Men: Days of Future Past.
The story behind this film is an interesting one, so let's go over the history of the films first.
Around 2000, the comicbook superhero film was widely considered dead. A far cry from the days of Christopher Reeve's Superman and Tim Burton's Batman, the American public was sick of superheroes, no doubt thanks to the tidal wave of such films in the 1990s. Many film critics, professional and amateur alike, agree that 1997's one-two punch of Steel (starring Shaquille O'Neal, yes, that Shaq) and Batman and Robin were what put the genre six feet under. (For more info on the latter, check out Crimson Lionheart's review of this trainwreck.)
Most of the comicbook superhero films at that time were either based on DC properties (like the aformentioned Steel and Batman and Robin) or those of other, lesser known companies (such as Spawn and The Phantom). Strangely, Marvel, DC's primary competitor, did not have any involvement in theatrical releases whatsoever, preferring to keep their adaptations either direct-to-video or on television.
All of that would change when Marvel teamed up with 20th Century Fox to get the Uncanny X-Men to the silver screen. The resulting film, simply titled X-Men, was released to theaters in 2000, to surprisingly overwhelming critical and box-office success. This paved the way for Marvel to license its other franchises, such 2002's equally successful Spider-Man by Columbia Pictures, and eventually, 2008's Iron Man, which not only solidified Robert Downey Jr.'s career comeback after years of on-again-off-again drug rehab, but also jumpstarted the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This also caused DC to throw their hat back in the ring, having a shaky start with 2004's in-name-only adaptation of Catwoman, but eventually got their money's worth with a one-two punch in 2005: Batman Begins, which started the highly acclaimed Christopher Nolan trilogy of films, and the heavily divisive Superman Returns.
Of course, the X-Men would continue to be featured in cinema by 20th Century Fox, even after Disney picked up Marvel, thus barring them from the MCU. The X-Men franchise eventually fell into a slump with 2006's X-Men: The Last Stand, but climbed their way back out with 2011's X-Men: First Class, but not before Fox ordered a couple of spinoffs focused on the X-Men's golden boy, Wolverine.
The film that cemented X-Men's re-ascent from its fall from grace, however, was 2014's X-Men: Days of Future Past, which was intended to erase The Last Stand and the two Wolverine movies from continuity.
Though, considering how Marvel themselves treated Wolvie in the 90s, can we really be surprised?
Let's look at it, shall we?
Which is good, because otherwise, the Deadpool movie would have looked like this.
The film starts off in New York City, and a rather ravaged one at that. As explained by Sir Patrick Stewart, the actor for Professor Xavier, via voiceover, humanity is on the verge of destroying itself, thanks to the prejudices towards mutants and those who sympathize with them.
Cut to an equally devastated Moscow, where some mutants seem to be living underground. But the Sentinels, giant robots designed to kill all mutants, have arrived to destroy them. As they drill into the hideout, the mutants try desperately to fight them off.
Their efforts prove to be in vain, as the Sentinels kill them off one by one.
Is it just me, 0r was this movie partialy inspired by the Terminator franchise?
Three billion human lives ended on August 29, 1997. The survivors of the nuclear fire called the war Judgement Day. They lived only to face a new nightmare: the war against the Machines.
Cut to China, where Xavier, Storm (played by Halle Berry), Wolverine (played by, who else, Hugh Jackman), and Magneto (played by Sir Ian McKellen) meet up with... the mutants from earlier?
Turns out they weren't even really killed, it was just some time travel stuff to warn themselves of an attack.
Magneto turns to Xavier and suggests that they try out something similar. One of the mutants asks what the hell Magneto is talking about, prompting Xavier to explain the origins of the Sentinel program.
It was commissioned by a Bolivar Trask (played by Peter Dinklage), a top-of-the-line weapons engineer in the early 1970s and also a mad scientist, using mutants for purposes the Nazis would be proud of.
Trask's research was found by Mystique (played by Jennifer Lawrence), who tracked him down to the Paris Peace Accords in 1973 (which, by the way, marked the end of the war in Vietnam), and then killed him. However, against her intentions, the U.S. government only believed in the need for Trask's program more. She was then captured by the government, who then proceeded to torture and experiment upon her (you know, just like the real U.S. government doesn't do to criminals, as that is a major Geneva Convention violation), and found out using her DNA how she transformed. They then used this as the basis for the Sentinels, allowing them to adapt to mutant abilites.
Xavier's plan? Prevent Mystique from killing Trask, and thus stopping the Sentinels from existing.
There's just one problem: apparently, the mutant who can send people back in time (or rather, their minds) can't send people back more than a month at most, claiming not even Xavier would survive the process, because even a mind as powerful as Xavier's can only take so much before it breaks.
Wolverine, however, volunteers for the trip in Xavier's place, thanks to his ability to repair himself.
So they send Wolvie back to 1973, and things get awkward really quickly. Turns out Wolvie was part of some sort of New York mafia in the 70s, and he woke up after getting some with his boss's daughter.
I could use the Terminator joke again, but that would be as repetitive as every Call of Duty sequel.
Yeah, that's some heavy stuff. (Back to the Future, Cutie Remark, and Terminator jokes all in one review? I may have to put a counter on these.)
The mobsters try to attack him, but he heals himself and extends his claws (which weren't covered in adamantium yet) and lays his assailants out, before getting dressed and getting in his car.
Cut to Capitol Hill, where Trask is trying to convince the government of the need for his weapon. They don't believe it is necessary because, even though Nixon was president at the time, the government actually had some morals. Well, concerning its own citizens, anyway. A quick Google search will tell you all you need to know about the things America did in Vietnam, and considering one of this site's members is from that country (specifically, Diamond), it's best to leave it at that.
Cut to Saigon, Vietnam, where a military officer (I wonder who) stumbles upon a Trask Industries experiment just wrapping up. Then some more militguys show up to run a few more tests, and after the "military officer" calls them out, he turns into Mystique and lays the beatdown on them.
One of the experimentees stands up and apparently recognizes Mystique, who then (after reverting to her disguise) escorts him and the others outside for a return trip to America, and then stays behind, changing forms again (this time to her standard human form).
Cut to Wolverine at past Xavier's (played by James McAvoy) front gate. When Wolverine comes to the door, he is answered by Hank McCoy (who will be later known as Beast, played by Nicholas Hoult), who promptly asks Wolvie to leave, but Wolverine is undeterred, and he breaks in.
He looks for Xavier, but is slowed down by a now Beast-mode Hank. The ruckus gets Xavier's attention. We learn that 70s Xavier is a drug junkie after the events of First Class, and he also lost his powers for a time. A bullet to the spine will do that.
Wolverine tells past Xavier everything, and that he needs his help. But Xavier says that he can't help, as Mystique drifted away from him (they were childhood friends, forgot to mention that) and went to Erik Lehnsherr (past Magneto, played by Michael Fassbender), and as a result, wouldn't even listen to Xavier. Wolverine then tells Xavier that they also need Erik's help, prompting a "Hahaha, no" reaction from Xavier.
Nothing Wolverine tries convinces Xavier, a broken man who copes with his problems with a serum designed by Hank to suppress mutation.
Xavier, however, after a flashback to his childhood, turns his opinion around, still not quite trusting Erik, until Wolverine reveals that Erik sent him back along with Xavier. When the future's in danger, that kind of thing happens. Assuming they believe you.
It turns out Erik is being held in the center of the Pentagon for... get this... killing John F. Kennedy.
Wolverine then reveals he knows someone who can get them in.
About as good an explanation as any.
Cut to the Trask Industries building, where Trask is about to leave for Paris, but has to get some things first.
Scratch that, it was Mystique all along.
So she can change her size now, too?
She enters Trask's office, and learns everything she needs to know with relative speed.
Cut to the outskirts of DC, where Wolverine and co. pull up outside the house of the guy they're looking for. This is the home of Peter Maximoff (aka Quicksilver, played by Evan Peters). They go inside and convince him with ease, because he is a young criminal, and they set off.
While they tour the Pentagon, Wolverine and Quicksilver break away, and Hank jams the security feed.
Quicksilver then dons a security officer's uniform, and gets to where he needs to be quickly, obviously, and gets Erik's attention. Vibrating the glass quick enough to shatter it, he triggers the alarm. Of course, you can't have a heist without them finding out at the last possible minute. Otherwise that wouldn't create drama.
Hank masks the alarm by triggering the sprinklers, and Quicksilver anticipates the imminent arrival of the guards, breezing past them with Erik once they arrive.
Also, Wolverine and Xavier attempt to convince everyone that a lockdown is occuring, when they run into some guards, and Wolverine attacks the guards.
Xavier gets the key to the elevator that Erik and Quicksilver are in, and then punches Erik once the door opens. Wow, trust issues seemingly never go away. I know about that. If you lived in my house, you'd understand.
So they get ambushed by more guards and as they fire, Quicksilver does some stuff, goes fast, and prevents the bullets from hitting their mark, all the while incapacitating the guards.
By now I should probably mention the special effects. They are quite convincing, even for CGI. Makes me almost believe they're actually mutants.
So they make their escape in a plane, leaving Quicksilver behind, as Wolverine tells Erik everything.
But nothing will convince me that the Third Doctor had to deal with real dinosaurs rampaging in London. (Time travel reference counter: 4)
Erik apparently takes this quite well, but he and Xavier get in a fight, almost downing the plane, but Erik collects himself at the last moment.
Cut to Paris, where Mystique (in her base human form) is apparently talking with a Vietnamese general. He tries to get in her pants, but this backfires, as she reveals her true form, and chokes him out.
I can only assume his last thoughts were "Totally worth it."
Back on the plane, Erik reveals that... wait, did he just say he tried to save JFK?! And JFK was a MUTANT?!
So Erik and Xavier rekindle their friendship, and we cut to Paris, just before the summit, where Trask tries to convince the Vietnamese of his beliefs. He also tells them how to cheat at Pac-Man... oh wait, wrong movie. (And before you ask, I'll get to Pixels eventually. Them time machines ain't cheap.)
And Lehnsherr pitches his second curveball to MorphinBrony, who misses it just like the first one.
So Wolvie and co. show up and get inside, as Trask is demonstrating what I shall call his "mutant detector," and it settles on what appears to be the Vietnamese general from earlier (no points for guessing the real identity), who stalls before revealing him/herself.
But Wolverine and co. show up just as Mystique is about to pull the trigger. Erik tries to kill her, but Hank stops him and Mystique escapes through the window, the bullet chasing after her, hitting her in the leg. Also, she blows the whole cover of every mutant ever.
Wolverine almost goes back into the present thanks to flashbacks, but slips back, albeit with an altered memor, while Hank goes Beast to stop Erik from finishing off Mystique. Erik causes a lot of metal around him to move, while Mystique slips away.
Beast doesn't get held back, though and chases after Erik, while Wolverine snaps out of it and follows Xavier out of the building.
Also, all of this happened on camera, and old Richard Nixon finds out about it.
Trask confirms what is happening, and Nixon approves his Sentinel program.
In a Parisian hospital, Mystique is getting treated for her wounds (in her human form), while
Erik looks at the blueprints for the Sentinels, and leaves his hotel room, but is ambushed by Mystique, who is holding him at knifepoint. Erik tries to convince her to stop the U.S. government from going through with the Sentinel program, but she won't have it.
After returning to Xavier's place, his legs give out and his powers come back. As Hank rushes to get the treatment, Wolverine tells Xavier that he needs his powers to help them find Mystique.
He comes to this conclusion as well, and abandons his needle. Remember kids, drugs are bad, especially the superpower-suppressing ones!
Meanwhile, Trask analyzes the blood he found on the sidewalk in Paris, and sees with his own eyes what Mystique's DNA is capable of.
In Xavier's lab, he puts his powers to use, but he is agonized over the stress on his mind, which overloads the system he uses to enhance his powers. He contemplates giving up, but Wolverine tries to give him a confidence boost by allowing a peek inside his head. Somehow, this causes him to have a conversation with his future self, who convinces him to kick his anxieties to the curb and keep going. That reminds me of that one time, when I was depressed, and nothing like that happened, because like I said, time travel is expensive.
On a Trask train, Erik leaps aboard and takes control of a prototype Sentinel.
Cut to an airport, where Mystique is approached by Xavier (who is speaking through a bunch of other people who probably have no idea what's going on), trying to keep her from continuing to pursue her agenda, but she refuses.
Xavier learns that she was boarding a plane to Washington, D.C., and Hank reveals that he has a device that monitors the broadcasts of all three major broadcast networks at the time as well as PBS (because cable TV was a madman's dream in 1973).
It turns out that the President will be announcing the Sentinel program the next day. They resolve to stop her once again.
Also, hello, ironic Star Trek rerun!
Cut to the Pentagon, where Erik is grabbing his helmet (hidden among continuity porn), while the others fly to Washington, with Wolverine making sure the X-Men exist.
Cut to the future, where the Sentinels are about to arrive.
At the presidential announcement, Xavier tricks the guards into letting him, Hank, and Wolverine in. Xavier attempts to locate Mystique, while the Sentinels are unveiled.
Mystique also got in, in disguise, predictably.
She tries to pull her gun, but Xavier stops her, and instructs the others to accost her.
At that point, the Sentinels are booted up and wreak havoc.
While Storm attempts to stall the Sentinels in the future, everyone in the past is trying to survive.
Mystique prepares for another shot at Trask, while Erik shows up in a flying baseball stadium.
It turns out he hacked all of the Sentinels.
In the future, some, but not all, of the Sentinels are destroyed. As a result, Storm and future Magneto die, along with some of the mutants from the beginning of the movie.
Hank in the past goes Beast and tries to stop the Sentinels, while Wolverine runs towards past Magneto. However, past Magneto attacks Wolverine by sticking rebar in him, and throws him into the water.
Magneto magnetizes the White House, disarming all inside, and pulls the Presidential bunker out of it.
He addresses the world and tells them that basically they done messed up.
Mystique takes the disguise of the President, while Hank reverses his Beast mode, and Mystique severely injures Magneto, shutting off all of the Sentinels in the process.
Mystique turns her attention to Trask, but is interrupted by Xavier, who finally convinces Mystique to drop the gun and end the madness, just in time to prevent the bad future. She then removes Magneto's helmet, allowing Xavier to use Magneto's body to lift the rubble off of him. Magneto flies off, and Wolverine wakes up in the future.
Everything is different, the people who would have died are alive and well, including, of all people, Jean Grey (played by Famke Janssen, who died in The Last Stand, thus truly striking said movie from canon) and Cyclops (played by James Marsden).
He runs into new present Xavier, who he asks for a brush up on everything that happened after 1973.
As it happens, Mystique saved Wolverine from drowning, and presumably gave him his adamantium bone covering, probably to keep him consistent.
And then the movie ends. And boy, was that one hell of a ride.
Days of Future Past is without a doubt, the TRUE third installment in the X-Men film series, worthy of that title and then some.
Before I close this review with the traditional thoughts from the ponies, I would like to add that there is one other pony watching this review. As, for all intents and purposes, Starlight Glimmer might as well be part of the Mane Cast as of the Season 5 finale (as much as I hate to admit it to myself), she will be giving her thoughts as well, and will continue to do so unless I'm proven wrong.
Now time for their thoughts.
Starlight: I thought it was a good movie, even if the plot hit a little close to home for me. But other than that, it was good.
Twilight: I have to agree with Starlight. Bryan Singer returning for this film was the best thing Fox has done with Marvel in quite some time until the announcement of Deadpool. The cinematography, writing, action, all well done. AS THEY SHOULD BE IN AN X-MEN FILM.
Rarity: While I never liked those black leather suits (though I suppose yellow and blue spandex would look no better), I thouroughly enjoyed this film. I also enjoyed the attention to temporal accuracy employed in scenes set in the 1970s.
Applejack: Ah cannot stress this enough, THIS is how good ah was hoping The Last Stand would be. Definitely the third X-Men film, no question.
Rainbow Dash: This was the one that made me think Fox could still do Marvel movies. But then Fantastic Four 2015 happened. But then Deadpool happened, so I guess it's all okay. Other than that, awesome movie.
Pinkie Pie: That was a good one! Can I watch it again?
Fluttershy: Oh... that was scary... no more, please.
"Mutants, how do they work?" -IGN
@Tyro The Fox DID U RIKE IT?
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