Even before going out to see X-Men: Days of Future Past, I had seen some rather mixed reviews. Some people called it one of the best superhero movies since Avengers. (And one reviewer described it as better than Avengers.) Others found it sexist, convoluted, and/or disappointing…
I’m thrilled that we’ve canonically erased the mess that was X-Men 3. It was very cool to finally see the sentinels on the screen. And I like that they took on a very ambitious storyline. But the movie didn’t work as well as it could have. I walked out of the theater feeling like I had seen a big, flashy film that was somehow … hollow. It didn’t make me feel very much.
Some of my thoughts:
Quicksilver: When I first saw photos of the character online, I winced. But his scenes were pretty much my favorite part of the movie, mostly for the fun and humor. I wish we’d seen more of him, but I can also understand why the writers didn’t go there. Given the way they portrayed his powers, he probably could have solved the whole thing himself. “Hey, would you mind flying out to Paris with us and stopping Mystique from killing Tyrion Lannister? And while we’re at it, why don’t you head into Trask Industries and destroy everything related to the sentinels project?”
Gratuitous X-Death: I get that the future is ugly, but I have very little interest in watching heroes get slaughtered in various gruesome ways. Yes, the fact that some of these mutants don’t look human means you can rip them in half or crush their heads underfoot and still keep your PG-13 rating. But what was the point? We all know those deaths are going to be reset anyway. It felt pointless and gratuitous.
Future Sentinels: Oh, look. The destroyer from Thor hooked up with the T-1000 from Terminator and had ugly babies.
Blink: I wasn’t familiar with the character before the film, but I liked her power and the various creative ways she used it. I wish there had been more moments that made me think, “Hey, that’s cool/clever/nifty!” the way most of her scenes did.
Professor X and Magneto: I’ve enjoyed the relationship between these two over the course of the franchise. But while I enjoyed what we saw of Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, I found the younger Erik and Charles to be rather meh. There was nothing new to their relationship, nothing we hadn’t seen before.
Mystique: For the past ten years, Charles has been a grieving drug addict. (Perhaps not a literal addict, but that’s definitely how the movie was portraying him and his arc.) Erik has been locked away for trying to save JFK and managing to deflect the bullet right into the president instead. Smooth move, there. Meanwhile, Mystique has been running around, saving mutants, gathering info, and kicking ass. And the goal of the movie is to stop her? Topping things off, I’ll quote Jenn Reese here:
Despite the fact that the movie is literally about her decision to kill a man or not, the entire story is built around Charles Xavier anyway and framed as his decision to let her decide.
Short version: this movie needed less Charles-angst and more Mystique.
Magneto and the Stadium: What was cut out of this already-busy movie so that Magneto could carry a stadium around? And why???
The X-Men are a Team: The only real team we see is the future mutants fighting against the sentinels. Coincidentally, aside from the gratuitous slaughter of our heroes, those scenes were some of my favorite parts of the movie. I wish we’d seen more of that. Beast, Wolverine, Charles, and Magneto did not a team make. At least, not an interesting team. (Maybe next time try a mix that isn’t four angsty white dudes?)
Too Much Story, Too Little Time: I wish this had been two movies. Give us part one set in the future, showing the surviving X-Men and their battles against the sentinels. Show us who’s in charge instead of just hand-waving that the sentinels left the bad humans running things. Show us what it took to track down the turning point in time. Give us scenes of Storm, Kitty, Blink, Bishop, Iceman, and the rest kicking ass while the whole world comes crashing down around them. And then go into the past and set things up for the second movie.
In part two, take the time to show us more of what Mystique’s been up to. Make this her movie as much as Charles and Magneto. Turn the sentinels loose and show us some 70s mutant vs. sentinel action. Here’s an idea: show us a team of X-Men! And then, yes, wrap things up by showing us a better future. (I loved Professor X’s line “Welcome back,” and the way Patrick Stewart acted that scene when he realizes what’s happened and which Wolverine he’s speaking to.)
So, yeah. Not the worst of the X-Men franchise, in my opinion. But certainly not the best, either. And it could have been so much more.
What did you think?