Saturday, May 24, 2014


Release date:
May 23, 2014
Bryan Singer

Jennifer Lawrence, Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Evan Peters, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Ellen Page, Nicholas Hoult, Peter Dinklage, Halle Berry

Here’s a sci-fi franchise taking its fan base for granted. Why bother with novelty and intensity when you know Wolverine and Mystique have just to turn up to drive audiences wild? X-Men: Days of Future Past brings us the older and younger versions of most of the characters that have inhabited the series from the start, in a story about time travel and altering the course of history. One murder committed by Mystique/Raven in 1973 set ‘normal’ humankind on a collision course with mutants, which has led to a present-day war that will destroy all the X people. Wolverine is sent back in time to stop her. Resting on a wafer-thin story are shootouts and human-mutant clashes throughout, but little that we’ve not already seen.

The strength of the earlier X-Men films was that the special effects complemented the characters’ emotional turmoil and moral quandaries. Here, it’s SFX all the way with little by way of human drama. Plus the premise is so puerile that a suspension of disbelief – so essential in fantasy films – becomes tough to achieve as a viewer. Changing one historical wrong won’t ensure world peace forever. I’m sure even Miss World contestants know that. Yet in the universe created by writers Simon Kinberg, Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman, time travel is given the most simplistic treatment and straightforward interpretation you can imagine.

Also, a majority of the heavyweight cast are given so little to do that frankly, they end up looking like over-qualified recruits. Hugh Jackman has his moments – just a few – when he relives 1970s America with barely disguised amusement. That he can bring a light touch even to the job of being the tragic Logan/Wolverine is a measure of his formidable talent. Jennifer Lawrence looks lovely and has a flawless figure, but brings little else to her expressionless rendition of Mystique who happens to be the central character of this film (even though those MCPs persist in calling it X-Men).

Halle Berry has even less to do here as Storm than she did in her over-hyped role right after her Oscar win, as the Bond girl Jinx in Die Another Day. Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart give her close competition for the least screen time in the film, though their characters are far more significant to the plot.

The best of the writing comes out in the early back-to-the-past interactions between Charles Xavier/Professor X (James McAvoy) and his one-time bête noir, the young Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) before he became Magneto. In the dilemmas of Xavier we get a glimpse of what has made some of the other X-Men films such a delight. Should he accept a loss of his mutant powers as a side effect of the serum that gives him use of his legs, or should he willingly adopt a wheelchair to hold on to that other strength? Now this is the stuff that good X-Men films are made of. There’s also some fun to be had noticing the uncanny similarity between actor Mark Camacho and US President Richard Nixon.

The stand-out character and performance in this film is Evan Peters Quicksilver, the mutant with the ability to move at unimaginable speeds. Peters lends an air of mischief plus an uneasy energy and restlessness to his character, even when he’s sitting still. For his efforts, he’s rewarded with the best, most entertaining, funniest, most well-executed scene in Days of Future Past, involving flying dishes and diverted bullets.

The top-of-the-line special effects in that scene are matched by another involving the White House. Honestly, that latter scene is SFX for the heck of SFX, if you think about the fact that Magneto’s reasoning for his behaviour at that point is somewhat indecipherable. Still, the thought of the US President’s home with an essential part lopped off and the entire complex encircled by an I-won’t-say-what is cause for some chuckles.

The rest of the special effects are of high quality, but lack imagination. In short, X-Men: Days of Future Past is rather flat. “Humanity has always feared that which is different,” says a character during the course of the film. Yeah yeah, we’ve heard it said in different ways in a ton of superhero films; if you don’t take that forward it’s just cliched, intellectually pretentious blah blah. Superficial writing, predictable background score, under-used actors and a downright silly ending … we deserve better than that.

Rating (out of five): **1/2

CBFC Rating (India):
Running time:
MPAA Rating (US):
122 minutes
PG (for sequences of intense sci-fi violence and action, some suggestive material, nudity and language)
Release date in the US:
May 23, 2014


  1. Evan Peters' character is Quicksilver, not Lightning. And no emotional turmoil and moral quandaries? Wasn't the whole Raven/Mystique's character all about that?

    1. Dear Ubermensch,

      I seem to have absent-mindedly given Quicksilver what the Bengalis call a "dak naam". Had corrected myself before I saw your message. Thanks for your vigilance though. As for Raven/Mystique, no I don't think she suffered from any moral quandary. What indicator does the film give you of that? Even the decision to prevent the murder she committed was an intellectual one, made on the assumption that the move would avert the havoc that followed. It wasn't moral, it was practical. There was no quandary. And the deliberations on this matter didn't involve Raven at all anyway.


    2. Ah. I see you've edited parts of the review. Much better now. You're at least acknowledging there's at least some human drama.
      Regarding Mystique, the moral quandaries were in her interactions and conversations with Magneto and Xavier and how she finds fault in both their choices and strives for that middle path. There's a bit of background here, on one side is the young Raven(first class) who worships Xavier for taking her up and part raising her when she was an orphan and on the other side is the Mystique in the first three movies who is a loyal foot soldier of Magneto and is willing to follow him to hell. In the final scene, when she stops Magneto she outrightly rejects Magneto's path, but thinks she still needs to kill Trask to avenge the death of the other mutants. It's only then the whole "practical" reasoning got triggered. I thought her moment of redemption was taking the shape of the president and choosing to stop Magneto. She could have easily killed Trask and left Magneto to his evil ways, and that's the difference between Raven and the Mystique of the earlier movies. This pretty much changes everything. Without Mystique, Magneto cannot do any of the havoc in the first 3 movies and pretty much invalidates that whole timeline thus creating a new future where both Jean Gray and Scott Summers survive.

    3. Dear Ubermensch,

      I'm completely confused by your comment. I've not "edited parts of the review" as you seem to think I have. And there seems to be a disconnect between my comment and your response. I don't think you got the point, that I disagree with the point you are making. Are you sure you're not confusing my review with someone else's?


    4. Oh ok. I thought that this line was worded differently earlier: "The strength of the earlier X-Men films was that the special effects complemented the characters’ emotional turmoil and moral quandaries. Here, it’s SFX all the way with little by way of human drama."
      If not, my bad. Sorry.

    5. Yes, the sentence reads "the strength of the EARLIER X-Men films was that the special effects complemented the characters’ emotional turmoil and moral quandaries. HERE, it’s SFX all the way with little by way of human drama." How does that sound to you like I'm agreeing with you? Are you sure you know exactly what you are disagreeing with?

  2. I can assure you none of the xmen fans are unhappy or feeling cheated.
    its for no reason its 91% fresh at rototen tomatoes.

    1. Dear OptimuM IT,

      I can do nothing about the fact that X-Men fans don't mind being taken for granted, now can I? :)