Patrick Stewart Kicks Everyone’s Ass in Days of Future Past (2014)

days4All I have to say about Days of Future Past (2014) is that Bryan Singer better thank the guy upstairs that Patrick Stewart is as good as he is, because anybody who craps out Superman Returns (2006), needs help to deliver one of the most entertaining X-Men movies ever.  I genuinely think Patrick Stewart is great.  I genuinely think Superman Returns (2006) and Bryan Singer are crap, so I guess my expectations were pretty low for this one.

There’s something nostalgic about this movie that was hitting me over and over in the theatre, as if asking me to like it.  Patrick Stewart gives such a dignified and professional performance, that he is Professor Xavier.  When he’s gone, whoever becomes Professor X will pale in comparison.  He is that character.  In a way, that role is much different from any he’s had, as there were certain expectations to “becoming” an established comic book mutant, a character featured in decades of pages, and in thousands and thousands of words.  He pulled it off and carried this franchise when people tried to crap all over it.  It’s great seeing him in movies again.

To a lesser extent, Ian McKellen is Magneto.  He was especially perfect as Magneto in X-Men (2000) and X2 (2003), bringing forth what was great, eccentric, and powerful about the character.  Magneto is the top villain in comics, not that it makes a difference, but knowing that makes me disappointed seeing him in Days of Future Past.  McKellen has literally nothing to do.  He has a few lines, but nothing memorable.  He stands around and looks aged. days1

I am not surprised Wolverine has become the main star of the X-Men movie franchise.  He has been the most popular character in Marvel comics for some time.  Back in the day, titles would rise and fall at his appearances and the character appeared in many books all in a single month.  I’m not sure about nowadays, but he is still a top-tier seller, proven by Wolverine: Origins and its unnecessary sequels.  In the movies, he carries the same popularity, which is testament to the performance of Hugh Jackman.  He quips, smokes, and calls somebody “bub” in Days of Future Past and makes everyone smile.  Jackman does a great job, an almost perfect job fitting into his role.  It’s like he’s taken the weight of the plot of Days of Future Past on his back and endeavored to carry it, move it beyond a simple action movie into something more.  Whether he succeeds or not is debatable, but I think this movie needed Hugh Jackman.  

It is disappointing seeing Wolverine squashed though, because I don’t think he is all that threatening in Days of Future Past.  He’s handled with ease pretty much every time and Magneto makes him look pretty silly.   Jackman shrugs it off though and sells the ending despite being stepped on throughout the movie.  Singer better thank Jackman too.  The ending is the most perfect thing I’ve ever seen in a superhero movie, practically wiping the slate clean, in order to bring back all the characters we know and love.  It is great.days2

There are glimpses of emotion from the characters that sparked something great, but some of these moments felt unfulfilled.  This happened to me when Wolverine started having flashbacks.  Unfortunately, he doesn’t talk to anyone about what he saw or felt, but uses it as motivation, so I guess that’s something.  The same thing happens with Magneto and Mystique a couple times and I think they could have given twice as much time to these two, because I think there’s enough history and conflict there to suit it.  However, the movie did just enough to leave me satisfied with young Magneto and Mystique overall.

I will say I was confused as to the motivations for Mystique.  Beyond the obvious, I wondered how she knew all about Bollivar Trask and how to get at him.  This illustrates a flaw inherent in a movie like this, as it is many sequels down the line from the original.  It is like reading a comic book.  The book and story expects you to know what happened in the previous issues, or at least in the previous arc.  This is why I couldn’t tell you why Mystique is hunting down Trask.   I think Jennifer Lawrence gives a good performance in the scenes without all that make-up in the way and finally tops the original Mystique in X-Men and X2.  She does a great job.

days3Despite these good performances, I did have a bone to pick with the history lesson this movie tries to feed us.  The history contrivances were just too much for me and made me laugh on several occasions.  They take serious issues like Vietnam and boil them down to the latest popular opinion, passing it off as good history for the characters to dive into.

 It’s like the movie makers read news rags and Wikipedia, but didn’t consult any experts.  They take the JFK conspiracy as gospel truth, for example, putting a mutant spin on it. I mean, this isn’t a political thriller starring Robert Redford, so I give it a pass in that way, but it’s just sorta amusing how lightly they treat serious subjects like the assassination of JFK. Kennedy was apparently a mutant, which explains why he was so nice and had so many progressive policies.  Of course, that’s contrived bullshit.  Shame on you, Bryan Singer.

So because JFK was a mutant targeted by mutant haters, President Nixon is in most of this movie.  This means it takes place in 1973, when the Paris accords were signed.  They allude to these real events, as if borrowing straight from history, but warp them however they see fit.  The movie also gives a hint and a wink to other famous things from the 70s, such as Star Trek reruns starring William Shatner.  I just wish they were a little more respectful to the history, that’s all.  I didn’t need preaching and I didn’t need opinions on Vietnam, the JFK assassination, or anything else for that matter.

days5Evan Peters as Quicksilver pretty much steals the movie, in my opinion.  He carries the middle of it and lifts it from sagging into the ground, where it might have caused me to nod off.  His performance is nothing special, but the way the movie presents the character is simply brilliant.  It’s as if the world moves in slow motion around Quicksilver, so he has no trouble breaking into the Pentagon to retrieve Magneto.  

Quicksilver simply drops off the face of the Earth afterwards though and I was wondering if I dozed off during his death or something.  I really don’t want to call him another human plot device, but I was expecting more of him later on.

I would have to say that the nostalgia and entertainment value of this movie made me overlook all the weaknesses I’ve already mentioned.  The movie has mostly good dialogue and great writing.  The action is excellent.  Some of those contrivances will make me want to avoid this movie in the future, but I have to remember it is a work of fiction, and I can enjoy it as purely comic book entertainment.