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'X-Men: Days of Future Past' poised to become summer's first blockbuster

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With the raging success of the Marvel Studios movies and constant talk surrounding the Batman-Superman teamup, the X-Men movie franchise is one that, despite producing (for the most part) a consistent product for the better part of a decade and a half, still manages to fly under the radar.

 

After all, it was the original X-Men film in 2000 that finally gave Marvel credibility after years of failed attempts to successfully put together any semblance of a movie project (let alone a box office hit). And although the franchise hasn’t always been perfect (X-Men: The Last Stand), the plotlines are at times confusing and it’s failed to launch any mind-blowing spin-offs (the Wolverine franchise), X-Men: Days of Future Past, the seventh film of the X-Men franchise, features the return of most of the original trilogy cast as well as director Bryan Singer- and the franchise is a lot better off for it.Photo: geektyrant.com

 

Serving as a follow up to Last Stand and 2011’s X-Men: First Class, the film is based in a storyline from the X-Men comic books from the early 1980’s. The year is 2023, and robots known as Sentinels are terminating mutants. A small group of X-Men are under attack, but thanks to the work of Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page), she is able to teleport one’s consciousness back in time in order to prevent the attack. Pryde succeeds, the the group join up with Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellen) in China to discuss how they can prevent the Sentinels from wiping out human existence.

 

It is here where Xavier informs Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) that the rise of Sentinels goes back 50 years prior to 1973, when Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) murdered Dr. Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage), who was experimenting on mutants in efforts to launch a program of super soldiers. Following Trask’s death, Mystique was captured, her DNA was reversed and the Sentinels were used for evil instead of good. While Xavier blames himself for inadvertently leading Mystique down the wrong path, Magneto reminds him he took part in her downfall as well.

 

Nonetheless, the past must be changed in order to avoid the impending doom of the Sentinels. While Professor X seems like the most logical candidate to go back in an effort to prevent Mystique from killing Trask, the task is easier said than done. While Kitty has the ability to teleport back several weeks at a time, going back any longer than several weeks would permanently damage one’s mental state. Everyone with the exception of Wolverine, whose mutant healing powers make him the only candidate for the job. Feeling a sense of gratitude towards Professor X and knowing he’s the only one who can make the journey, he agrees, and Kitty teleports his mind back to 1973, where he awakens to the sounds of Roberta Flack while finding himself in a very uncompromising position.

 

After getting his bearings straight, Wolverine locates the professor’s school, where he finds a young Hank McCoy-Beast (Nicholas Hoult) and a younger, despondent Professor X (James McAvoy), who is reeling from the closing of his school and the deaths of some of the original X-Men. Although the professor is walking due to a serum he is taking, he loses his telepathic powers as a result. After much convincing, Wolverine persuades Xavier, McCoy and a young Quicksilver (Evan Peters) to help him break out Magneto (Michael Fassbender) out of a prison cell located over 100 floors from the Pentagon. Once their plan is in motion, the group sets out to find Mystique, who obviously has plans of her own. Now that Wolverine has his team together, can he complete what he was sent to do? Or is history doomed to repeat itself now matter how hard he tries to change it?

 

One of the charming qualities of X-Men: Days of Future Past  is the ability of director Singer to make a potentially crazy mess of a plot not too complicated to follow throughout the course of the film. Make no mistake, you have to pay complete attention, you will most likely review several of these scenarios in your head after walking out of the theater (but you normally do that anyway), and some parts of the film seem to go at lightning speed while other parts seemed slowed down. That being said, the film holds your interest from beginning to end and it goes by much quicker than the running time of 131 minutes seems. A filmmaker less talented than Singer could have made a mess out of the story, which is delivered in convincing fashion by its superb cast- a combination of the original cast of the trilogy and the new generation of X-Men.

 

The impressive list of award-winning or nominated actors in X-Men movies is arguably the strongest facet of the franchise. By now, Academy Award nominee Jackman is an old pro in the role of Wolverine, and McAvoy and fellow nominee Fassbender are the perfect foils to their present day characters played by Stewart and McKellan. The desire for good exemplified in Professor Xavier is still evident in his younger self 50 years prior, while Fassbender never shows his hand to his peers nor the audience during his performance as the enigmatic Magneto. Academy Award winner Lawrence is strong as Mystique, and while fellow Oscar winner Halle Berry isn’t given a much to do this time around as Storm, she clearly adds to the star power of the film (as does Academy Award nominee Page).

 

X-Men: Days of Future Past easily and effectively combines action, emotion, and some incredibly humorous scenes and ultimately ranks not too far behind 2003’s X2- the franchise’s best film. It’s just as enjoyable as Captain America: Winter Soldier and unlike The Amazing Spider-Man 2, you feel like you can watch the film without feeling that history has been altered- no pun intended.

You’ll see what I mean.

 

Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

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