Rating: 4 of 5
I did not expect to love Days of Future Past the way I did.
The concept was complicated and convoluted. There were stories from the set about the script changing or this or that going wrong. I didn’t love any of the earlier films in the franchise, even though X-Men was always my favorite cast of comic characters growing up. I actually feel like a lot of the franchise was really mishandled prior to this film.
But that’s the cool thing about Days of Future Past – it’s this remarkable reset button.
And it’s actually an X-Men movie done well.
I thought the writing was good because, expect for the opening sequences, it was remarkably easy to follow for being such a potentially confusing storyline. It helps, of course, if you’re familiar with the characters and the films that have come before. But it’s not difficult to figure out and keep up. I did feel like the two opening sequences were a little jarring. There were none of the characters we recognized in the first and then no context given on the second so while the action was good I found myself not emotionally invested in anything until about 15 minutes in when Kitty finally explains everything to the Professor. From there I thought it was very good. Also, once Wolverine was back in the 70s I felt the cut to the army base was a bit choppy. It was totally needed for the progression of the story but I wanted to stay with Wolverine and meet up with Professor X and so I just wasn’t interested in it.
Because James McAvoy is what made this film so exceptional for me. Because he is brilliant in this movie. I mean, he’s just an amazing actor. But the emotional arc he takes Xavier through is the heart of this film and all the other characters are pieces in his journey.
Which, I think is interesting, because going back to watch First Class it felt like it was really Magneto’s movie where the action revolved around his emotional arc. So, I like that you can look at these movies sort of paired like that.
And I like that James McAvoy got the better movie. I loved the moments he has in this film – the beautiful turn in the fight on the plane and the way he loses himself and then has the strength to pull himself out of that and that it isn’t without immense struggle. It was so remarkable and pretty much a lot of why I love this film.
All the performances were good and the characters were solid and there were fun moments between the past and the present so it all worked.
I had to rate the directing low because I don’t think Bryan Singer did anything extraordinary in this movie to warrant a higher rating. I don’t give him any credit at all for the good performances or how well the story played out or, really, much of anything.
And the only reason the production score isn’t a 4.5 is because Henry Jackman didn’t return to do the score. And I didn’t love what they had. It wasn’t bad at all, but it also wasn’t outstanding. And it’s pretty difficult on my blog to rate higher than a 4 on production without a great score. Though I will admit the action sequences were pretty good. And overall the production value of the film was really high.
And the ending was so satisfying. I didn’t even think about the opportunity they had to reset the franchise until it was right there and so obvious and so good. Yes, the earlier films are a giant mess, but this makes them a little bit easier to bear.
Things I”m glad are not in Days of Future Past
I’ve never thought Anna Paquin was well cast as Rogue. She got the role because she was like this teen actress in the 90s that was working a lot so I wasn’t surprised when she was cast in the first film. I didn’t think she was right for the role but she was popular so it made sense. But having seen DoFP, and having heard the interviews and discussions online about how there was a whole sequence with Rogue in it, I’m so glad she’s not. The film is tight and efficient and focused on this one story, which it needs to be or it would be confusing. Throwing her into the mix would not have made anything better.
– Jean Grey
I think Famke Janssen is talented, don’t get me wrong. But she is another of the characters terribly miscast in this franchise. She’s way too old for James Marsden as Cyclops (who was also badly cast and also popular in the 90s). I mean, she had more chemistry with Patrick Stewart in her episode of ST:TNG than she does with him. But because everyone loves Wolverine they always want Jean Grey in everything and I probably would too if Janssen weren’t such a terrible version of that character. Instead every time it’s like, “yes, please remind me how you’ve completely ruined this character for me. thanks.”
– dumb throwing in random mutants with no continuity just because
did you know Kitty Pride is in all three of the first X-Men movies? She’s actually younger in the second film than the other two. How much sense does that make? This time, even though there were a lot of mutants, it felt like they were finally intentional and judicious in their use of them.
– bad casting choices
I decided to throw this one in at the last minute because I’ve never given myself a forum to mention the other actors who were badly cast. And, to be fair, DoFP is much better cast than the early films.
In particular, Halle Barry (because she’s the only one I haven’t mentioned previously). Again, popular in the 90s. Honestly, and very disappointingly, one of the most working black women at the time so there weren’t a lot of choices because Hollywood can be stupid. But that didn’t make her the right choice for this character. at all.
And while most of the other characters were pretty well cast (and by that I mean Professor X, Magneto and Mystique because they’re pretty much the only ones left) let’s just think for a moment about how the original Wolverine was going to be Dougray Scott. for real. The only reason we got Hugh Jackman is that Scott had a scheduling conflict with Mission Impossible III which took him out of X-Men so they had to find someone else at almost the last minute. yeah.
But the First Class cast – very well done.