Time for Hope
X-Men: Days of Future Past boasts one of the most creative sci-fi sequences of the year. While “Time in a Bottle” plays in the background, every character freezes except a new mutant called Quicksilver, who zooms around rearranging everything. I think that amazing sequence makes this movie worth the price of admission. But there’s more! Wolverine gets lots of camera time, visual effects look stunning, the time-travel theme is quite intriguing -- though sometimes a bit confusing – and HOPE emerges as the film’s appealing main message.
However, everything looks bleak at the beginning of this seventh X-Men outing, which takes place sometime in the future. Powerful robots called Sentinels, who have taken over, are about to destroy the few remaining mutants. Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellen) believe the only way to prevent this from happening is to have Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) send Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back in time. Why Wolverine? He has the power to heal his own injuries. His mission? Meet with their younger selves and persuade them to work together in order to stop Raven/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from killing Dr. Boliver Trask (Peter Dinklage), the key to development of the Sentinels. Evidently, when Mystique kills Trask, this alerts the military to the immense power of a Sentinel weapon.
Wolverine’s journey takes him back to a time before Charles Xavier (now played by James McAvoy) had met him. Charles, an emotional wreck, is being taken care of by Hank/Beast (Nicholas Hoult). As we all know, patience is not Wolverine’s strong suit, so their first conversations become prickly, to say the least. After Charles agrees to help, the first task involves breaking Magneto (now played by Michael Fassbender) out of a Pentagon prison. Piece of cake? Not on your life, but such fun to watch. Next, Raven/Mystique must be found. She’s a shapeshifter, so that isn’t easy. And she’s very, very determined!
Will Wolverine and his helpers complete this mission in time to save the mutants and all humanity? Is it possible to change the future by working together? How important is hope as a change agent?
As an avid Hugh Jackman fan, I always love seeing him on the big screen. And, believe me, he shows much more than his claws in one brief shot here. He also softens Wolverine’s character in a believable way (listen for “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”) -- all the while projecting his trademark charisma. Jennifer Lawrence dazzles us again with a dynamic emotional and physical performance. But Evan Peters surprised me the most in his portrayal of Quicksilver. The young actor from TV’s “American Horror Story” seems perfect in this “speedy” role.
Unfortunately, I still have a problem accepting McAvoy and Fassbender as the younger selves of Stewart and McKellen. But that has nothing to do with their acting ability -- they just don’t show any physical resemblance to the older actors. And that takes me out of the story at times, which is frustrating, especially for a movie as important as this one.
I’m pleased that director Bryan Singer (X-Men and X-Men 2), working from Simon Kinberg’s (X-Men: The Last Stand) screenplay, made sure most of the regular mutants received some screen time – even if it meant throwing in a few simple “cameo” appearances. But I can’t help being disappointed that Storm (Halle Berry), one of my favorites, wasn’t featured more. She always adds so much to the visual excitement of these movies. Still, X-Men: Days of Future Past includes plenty of thrilling action, incredible special effects (Magneto’s big stadium extravaganza wowed me), and the franchise’s continued emphasis on tolerance for differences to admire. Plus, Wolverine, of course.
(Released by 20th Century Fox and rated “PG-13” for sequences of intense sci-fi violence and action, some suggestive material, nudity and language.)
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