Rental Corner: “Future Past” redeems franchise
The X-Men franchise has seen a lot of ups and downs recently. After the first two films, trail and effort was made to recapture the social commentary of the comics but the third entry “Last Stand” sealed its fate. Many fans were diverse over the changes it made to the Phoenix storyline it was adapted from and turned off from how much was crammed in. Keep in mind, this was before Thor and Iron Man showed how a comic book adaption could be done. With the viewer’s suspension of disbelief at risk, comic book films were simplified back then to avoid introducing things like aliens or giant intergalactic beings that could devour planets. Since the dawn of Marvel Phase One, my thoughts on the X-Men franchise diminished seeing how the door was wide open for anything to pull through. Even an adaption of Guardians of the Galaxy proved that viewers can accept anything as long as they were having a good time and being rewarded with a good story to go with it. But what we have forgotten is that X-Men was the one that started it all and showed possibility which got lost after Sony’s countless meddling with Spider-Man and Disney’s expanding Marvel’s universe with the Avengers. Well, I guess here is where I admit that I wish I saw X-Men: Days of Future Past on the big screen because this is without a doubt on the best in the series and oddly enough the best time travel movie I’ve seen since Back to the Future or Escape from the Planet of the Apes.
I should point out that this film was adapted from a storyline in the Uncanny X-Men series but while its updated for continuity purpose (even if they mess around with it a bit) the whole plot feels a bit outdated. Enter an unlabeled future that is bleaker than The Terminator series where robot beings called Sentinels are capturing humans and mutants in a post apocalyptic setting. Patrick Steward returns as Professor Xavier and a remaining team of surviving X-Men members who are fighting to survive. Its not long till they hit across the idea of sending someone back in time to prevent a key event creates such a horrible future. Of course seeing Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) can easily heal, they send him mentally to the past in order to save the future. I will admit the way they explain how the time travel physics work is interesting and plausible. I’m big on time travel movies and more use to seeing big machines that teleport one to another decade. Well, here they are mentally sent back to their younger self and happen to have their older counterpart in control of their younger body. Its a nice idea but on paper it does feel somewhat silly and strange. Then again, its the X-Men so I can’t complain.
Wolverine is mentally sent back to 1973 where a scientist played by Peter Dinklage has invented a set of robotic guards to hunt down mutants much like the machines of the past. He’s tampered and experimented with mutants which angers the sleek blue shape shiftier Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence returning from First Class) who plans to assassinate the scientist creating the bleak outcome as politicians would later feel its better to be safe than have a world with humans and people with powers. If that wasn’t enough, Wolverine has to enlist the help of the younger Professor Xavier (James McAvoy again returning from First Class) to seek a way to stop Mystique’s plan but unfortunately Xavier sees it best to hide from the public than create action. I should address that originally I was highly disappointed by the depiction of Xavier in First Class seeing I couldn’t picture a playboy turning into one with deeper dedication and respect. Days of Future Past nearly falls into this trap but is salvaged by having it play as a character arch than a character trait. Now he has to learn to be more responsible and learn about the man he will later be. It almost makes me wonder what would it be like if First Class didn’t exist seeing this film is far enriched than its predecessor.
But that is not the only thing in the way as a younger Magneto returns (Michael Fassbender) trying to persuade Mystique to be part of his “Brotherhood” of survivors and rise against humanity. Surprisingly, his storyline in First Class was the only good thing considering it developed a character arch for his hatred of normal people. Here it comes full circle as he enacts a way to rid them while seeing the will of mutants rise up. He is the real villain as Peter Dinklage’s character is more of a red herring. In the first act, they build him up as the real conflict but surprisingly pull a bait and switch that makes his part more unique. He’s not in it to wipe out mutants but his cause for the creation of these machines are still a crime to his present nature. It becomes more a question that if one person was to make a killing device and be seen as an exterminator to some, would it right or wrong to eliminate him from history?
These aspects and more is just what make Days of Future Past a must watch. The closets thing to a modern “Back to the Future” we got was Men In Black III but lacked edge seeing it was a comedy despite its theoretical themes of how one small event can lead to many possibilities. This movie succeeds further in questioning just how “set” is the future and can we really alter it. What are the goods and bads? The outcomes and the sacrifices in making a new timeline? Never had those questions come to mind in a while and this film does the job well. I can’t say its original considering the story is dated seeing its adapted from a storyline in the 1980s series and these elements have been present before in The Terminator, Doctor Who’s “Genesis of the Daleks,” tons of Stark Trek sequels and more. But Days of Future Past is so intense from beginning to end as it sets up to keep it fresh from the others. And considering how many “bad” X-Men movies we have had previously, its nice to have a fresh entry that isn’t afraid to take a idea that could have been absurd if handled wrong. The only thing that bugs me is where was Stan Lee’s cameo in all of this?
Posted on November 24, 2014, in Rental Corner and tagged Hugh Jackman, Marvel Comic, Patrick Stewart, rental corner, Time Travel, Wolverine, X-Men First Class, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Xavier. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.