Verdict: Good movie!
Plot: There’s a bad future. Wolverine gets sent back in time to try to make Charles and Eric work together to make it not happen.
I truly believed going into this movie that is was going to be good, for a completely nonsensical reason. My non-logic went as follows: the trailer for The Wolverine was fantastic, and made me really excited for the plot, but The Wolverine movie itself was absolutely boring. The trailer for Days of Future Past had to have been the most boring trailer in my recent memory, therefore Days of Future Past the actual movie will be fantastic.
Fortunately, through pure luck, I happened to be right.
But seriously, couldn’t they have made the trailer even a little exciting?
The movie operates in two timelines: the bad future, which gives us the stakes, and the past, which will determine whether or not the bad future happens. The movie does a good job of keeping the future timeline relevant for longer than I thought it would. There was a little bit towards the end where it stopped, but by that point I was so happy I didn’t care.
Most of the action, and the real meat of the story, happens in the past. And hinges on the Charles Xavier (Professor X), Raven Darkholme (Mystique), Erik Lehnsherr (Magneto) trio. Mystique is no longer a lackey for either Erik or Charles, instead providing a third perspective on the mutant/human issue–which is good on multiple levels.
1) We needed this third perspective. Erik and Charles are both extreme enough that there’s plenty of room to show a greater spectrum of ideas. And this movie manages to portray a wider spectrum–there are those who believe in wiping out mutants, wiping out humans, taking out only those humans/mutants who pose a threat, and being the bigger person no matter the provocation.
2) I desperately needed Raven’s conflict to be an external one, instead of being about her appearance. In a franchise where the main conflict is human/mutant relations, with potential consequences like war and genocide, having Ravens #1 concern be her appearance–not as just one of her issues, but as the one that defines her–made her seem shallower than the story, in the first movie, and therefore a disappointment. Not so, here.
3) Erik and Charles are big idea people, with powers that function on a large scale. Raven is much more focused, and her power set is much more conducive to assassination or spying. It’s kind of cool to see the abilities of the characters reflected in how they think.
The future timeline is a nice supporting storyline to inform the plot of the past, and to provide parallels to it. There’s nice bits of commentary thrown in, with the way some of the details differed from past to future. It created a more nuanced portrayal of both realities.
The future was also really great for pure amazing fanservice (the fully-clothed kind). There were a lot of characters in it, and they all got so show off their powers, if not their personalities. It’s amazing if you know the characters, and still interesting if you don’t–it provides action sequences with an assortment of powers, adding some variety into the mix. I don’t want to list the characters that made appearances and ruin the fun of identifying them for anyone who hasn’t seen the movie, but I really enjoyed seeing them on screen.
Most people already know that Quicksilver makes an appearance, though he is inexplicably named Peter. (The X-Men franchise is going to be overrun by Peters if this keeps up.) His big scene was pretty cool. Interesting note: This Quicksilver was slated to be the first representation of the character on film, but looks like the post-credit scene of Captain America 2 won out.
The character development rests primarily with Charles and Raven. Erik’s past and future selves are different, but neither of them really develop over the course of the movie. Young Charles is the one who needs to learn to be a little bit more like his older self. He needs to learn to believe in people, and to be able to step back and let them make their own choices. Raven needs to learn to see a bit more of the big picture, instead of acting out of pain. Young Erik remains Young Erik. The wellbeing of mutant-kind above all else, to extremes.
One gripe I have is how one particular scene shows both Charles and Hank (Beast) thinking of Erik and Raven as in the same category–even though the movie very carefully illustrated how different their perspectives were, at all times. Especially after the scene that had just taken place, that was very jarring. Charles and Hank both meant it in different ways, but neither way worked at that particular point in the story. Actually, that was literally the worst moment in the story for emphasizing Erik and Raven’s similarities.
The ability to shape what the future is going to look like rests primarily with Charles, Raven, and Eric–one of them will ultimately make the choice that decides where the world goes. Wolverine is essentially just the mouthpiece, there to provide information for the other characters and function as muscle. He facilitates most of the plot, but the really great moments don’t come from him. They come from Charles, Raven, and Erik.
This trio, both present and future, provide the character moments that really stand out in this movie. That, and the parallels that are illustrated between different versions of the same men.
I’m very satisfied with this movie, hopefully the superhero genre will keep up this current good-movie streak.