I had my doubts about “X-Men: Days of Future Past.” For one, it’s the seventh installment in the series (yes, really, counting the Wolverine movie). For another, it’s a mash-up between 2006’s retro “X-Men: First Class” and “X-Men: The Last Stand.” In a fashion similar to the Star Trek franchise reboot, “Days of Future Past” is an entire retcon of the events of “The Last Stand” – an opportunity to forge a new path with younger actors that isn’t beholden to the main storyline. Fed up with the many nonsensical plotlines of “The Last Stand?” Loved the ruthlessness of “First Class”? Then you’re in luck, true believers!
“Days of Future Past” features a dystopian future in which mutants are hunted by Mark II Sentinels, capable of instantly copying any superpower they encounter. Their directive: protect humans from mutants at all costs. Unfortunately, the definition of a mutant rapidly expands to include those with the potential to have mutant offspring, and it’s not long before the shapeshifters are killing off most of humanity. Desperate, Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian Mckellen) team up with Storm (Halle Berry), to use Kitty Pryde’s (Ellen Page) powers to send Wolverine’s (Hugh Jackman) consciousness back in time to 1973. It’s all to stop Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from assassinating the creator of the Sentinels, Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage), which sets off the chain of events leading to Sentinel apocalypse.
This leads to a fun series of acting exercises in which young Xavier (James McAvoy) and young Magneto (Michael Fassbender) must be convinced by taciturn Wolverine (still Hugh Jackman) to work together. There’s just a few problems: Xavier’s a drug addict and Magneto is in a super prison. And oh yeah, they hate each other’s guts. Enter Peter Maxmioff AKA Quicksilver (Evan Peters), who is like the Flash with worse hair. It’s also the best part of the film.
The fun of a retconning film like this is that all bets are off. Older characters can die without permanently damaging the franchise, new characters can forge their own paths, and everything that was old feels new again. Although there are always plot holes in a time traveling film, it’s easy to forgive them as director Bryan Singer repairs the wreckage he left behind when he fled the helm of “X-Men: The Last Stand” to lead the dreadful “Superman Returns” and left it to Brett Ratner to pick up the pieces. I’m not sure this film is enough for fans to forgive Singer, but it’s a much improved course correction to the franchise.
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