X-Men: Days of Future Past 1/2 | May 23, 2014 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

- May 23, 2014

X-Men: Days of Future Past 1/2

(Century 20) With the recent glut of superhero movies and television shows, many have been waiting for the bubble to pop. Since most superhero movies follow fairly rigid formulas, it would seem to be only a matter of time before audiences get pooped out watching them.

But the best superhero movies in some way work against the grain, like Christopher Nolan's Batman movies (Gothic films grounded in an urban crime aesthetic and global socio-politics) or Bryan Singer's X-Men films, which draw on a constellation of interesting characters and play on a scale epic not only for action but in cultural, political and historical implications. You just aren't getting any of that in "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" or "Man of Steel." And so we come to "X-Men: Days of Future Past," which restores Singer to the director's chair of the franchise he launched with 2000's "X-Men."

The new film serves as sequel to Brett Ratner's much-maligned "X-Men: The Last Stand" (2006) and Matthew Vaughn's 2011 franchise reboot "X-Men: First Class," for which Singer co-wrote the story and produced. A loose adaptation of the beloved two-part comic book story by Chris Claremont and John Byrne, "Days of Future Past" wields time travel as the last hope for mutants, in 2023, facing a holocaust from the high-powered robotic Sentinels.

A small band of survivors — including Professor X (Patrick Stewart), Magneto (Ian McKellen) and Storm (Halle Berry) — resolve to use the powers of Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) to send the consciousness of Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back into his 1973 body. Then, Wolverine will seek out the younger Charles "Professor X" Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik "Magneto" Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) and enlist their help to stop Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from assassinating the creator of the Sentinels, Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) and inadvertently ensuring his work gets fast-tracked.

Simple, right? It's OK — take a deep breath. Though it doesn't hurt to have seen the previous "X-Men" films, one of the miraculous strengths of the new film is its coherence once it gets rolling (partly owed to editor John Ottman). Another miraculous strength owes to that outstanding cast, further supplemented by Evan Peters (who owns a section of the film as super-speedster Quicksilver) and Nicholas Hoult (whose Beast gets ample screen time).

With its high-stakes story and large cast of characters, the film keeps up its momentum with ease, and when it's not hurtling through action, it's never less than breezy, with plenty of humor balancing the darkness. On a character level, the story amounts to a battle for the souls of McAvoy's Xavier, Fassbender's Magneto, and the mutant in the middle, Lawrence's Mystique. Simon Kinberg's script is at its most interesting when playing these beats, especially given that the infamously impatient Wolverine can't just slash his way to victory; rather, he has to learn to massage others' troubles and finesse convincing words.

Harkening back to his earlier "X-Men" films, Singer makes passing allusions to the Holocaust and gay pride, and gets his Oliver Stone on by adding plot points (and stylistic flourishes) involving the Kennedy assassination, Nixon and the Vietnam War. But what makes "X-Men: Days of Future Past" more than just a thrilling science-fiction action flick is the past-present poignancy allowed by time travel and astral projection, indulging everyone's fantasy of telling a younger self what he or she needs to hear.

Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi violence and action, some suggestive material, nudity and language. Two hours, 11 minutes.

— Peter Canavese


There are no comments yet for this post

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Choose a category: *

Since this is the first comment on this story a new topic will also be started in Town Square! Please choose a category that best describes this story.

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields


Save $5 when you register by Monday, July 24

Registration is now open for the 33rd annual Palo Alto Weekly Moonlight Run and Walk. This family-friendly event which benefits local nonprofits serving kids and families will take place on Friday, Oct. 6 at the Palo Alto Baylands.

Register Here