There’s usually one or two things I don’t ever expect from superhero movies. One being that I don’t expect my IQ to grow even slightly and two being I don’t expect to feel any type of emotional connection. There’s a few superhero movies that surprised by making me feel the latter- X-MEN: FIRST CLASS was one of those special few. It was so surprising to me that I would feel so connected to the relationship between Magneto and Professor X that it almost felt silly. Regardless of the shame I feel on the front of having any emotional connection to a character nicknamed Magneto, it really made me love that movie. So here we are with X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST and I’m left wondering what happened to that magic?
This film blends the old cast and new cast by showing a future where mutants face extinction by an unbeatable foe, the Sentinals. To combat the threat Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and the gang come up with a plan to send Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) into the past to the point in history where the threat began. When he awakes in his younger body Wolverine/Logan must do the impossible and unite Charles (James McAvoy) and Eric (Michael Fassbender) at a time they were bitter enemies. Together they all have to track down Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) before she unintentionally gives the war on mutants exactly what it needs to defeat them.
Where did all the emotion go? It’s not entirely fair to say it’s all gone, I will say that. However, as the film goes on, it seems to slowly leak out from somewhere. I won’t attribute it to Fassbender- that dude is brilliant every time I see him. I won’t attribute it to McAvoy either, because I really like his “I’ve given up” attitude through most of this. In fact I can’t really attribute it anything except that the relationship is so strained that it’s just at that point in their rivalry. The emotion eventually is just replaced by indifference, but it doesn’t lessen the weight of what the mutants are fighting for.
If I were to attribute any loss of emotion I would hand it to the shift in past and present. It works with the movie, but I oddly I just don’t care about the present version of these characters. There are two seperate versions of these character facing life altering circumstances and I really only care about the past version of the characters. Given their actions could alter the future, there’s more tension in their story than anything else. From there the difference in ideals of Eric and Charles is still quite powerful. However it becomes silly at some point that anyone- including Charles- puts their trust in Eric.
A good chunk of this film is dedicated to the struggle of Mystique and events that she sets into motion. As much as I love Jennifer Lawrence and how great she normally is, I wasn’t quite as enamored with her this time out. There are great moments involving her and her interactions with specific characters, but there’s just something about the overall portrayal this time that didn’t click. Fassbender and McAvoy do such a great job in their roles that almost everyone takes a back seat for me- even Peter Dinklage feels somewhat wasted with his limited screen time. Also, I’d say the movie is worth the price of admission just to see the couple of Quicksilver (Evan Peters) sequences which are just fantastic.
The special effects look better this time around, trading in a lot of the rushed and unrendered look of the effects on FIRST CLASS. However, Bryan Singer and the writers seem to be taking some liberties with the physics and practicality of how and when some of the mutant powers work at times. More often than not, in context of a scene, the liberties taken work to heighten the enjoyment on a crowd pleasing level, but if you dissect elements on their own I’m not as sure how well it would hold up.
X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST for me does not quite surpass FIRST CLASS at least in terms of its emotional resonance towards the characters. As a spectacle it does not disappoint as it manages to thrill on the same level as it’s predecessor. I never tire of seeing the X-Men on screen showing of their powers and the interplay with both past and present cast is thoroughly entertaining, though it lacks the emotional punch I really wanted. As an action property X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST is well worth your money, but it kind of left me with more fond memories of the past than overwhelming optimism for the property’s future.