Back to the Future (X-Men: Days of Future Past, 2014)
Days of Future Past is a well loved storyline where Kitty Pryde is thrust into a future where Mutants are herded in camps, marked and in some cases killed. They are hunted by giant robots called Sentinels. And for the most part, Days of Future Past keeps these ideas. Except the film begins in the future and instead of Kitty Pryde going to the future, they send Wolverine back in time to stop it from ever happening. Kitty Pryde is still a part of this, as she can use her phasing ability to phase people through time. Only to a few days earlier, so they are playing a cat and mouse game with the Sentinels finding their hideout, Kitty sending Bishop back in time to warn them. They decide they need to go farther back, but it is to taxing on Kitty and the brain of the person she sends back. Wolverine volunteers to go, arguing his healing factor makes him the best choice.
Wolverine awakes in the 70’s and finds that the School Xavier opened is in shambles…there are no students. Xavier is addicted to a drug that allows him to walk, but also prevents him from using his powers. Beast is also there as his aide. They do not initially buy Wolverines arguments, but he eventually persuades them to the cause. They are trying to stop Mystique from assassinating Bolivar Trask. Trask is the creator of the Sentinels and he has been using mutants as part of his R&D. The research is fatal, and this is actually used to kill several characters from First Class off screen.
This is without a doubt one of the strongest films in the entire X-Men series. The return of Bryan Singer as director was clearly a smart choice. There is well timed humor and exciting action. We see the return of the original (still living cast). The future sequences are full of cool uses of power and we get new characters like Blink (who creates wormholes characters can escape through-the film is very inventive with these powers) and Warpath (a character from the 1970’s return of the X-Men comics). We have Storm and Iceman back. The films have always had a hard time placing Magneto on the side of evil and seeing real life friends Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan back together again.
And the new characters are pretty memorable. Quicksilver appears only a short time, but he totally steals every scene. He is funny and likeable. Peter Dinklage makes Trask a sympathetic and misguided villain. He is not simply evil…he is consumed by fear of what mutants mean for the human race. It does not make his actions acceptable. His choices are evil, but you can see what takes him there. William Stryker returns to the series and is trying to weaponize mutants, treating them as less than human already. The film is, of course, very Wolverine-centric.
There are two cuts of the film out on Blu-Ray. The theatrical cut eliminated Rogue entirely with the exception of the film’s final scene, even though they filmed several scenes focused on Rogue. The second is not a directors cut, it is the Rogue Cut and restores Rogue to the story. Both versions are good, but it is nice seeing the inclusion of Rogue and the important part she plays. It also brings things back to the first film and Rogue’s relationship to Wolverine.
The film has continuity issues in regards to the film series. One being how Patrick Stewart is back…it is a bit more focused on undoing X3 and “fixing a timeline”…which results in questions. Like First Class, Days of Future Past overcomes a lot of these questions while watching it. This film feels like the passing of the baton to the new cast (much in the way Star Trek Generations tried to do…but this does it oh so much better). It is, like X2, a film that has a strong identity that is built on strong performances.