X-Men: Days of Future Past movie review

X-Men: Days of Future Past
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In 1980, the comic book writers Chris Claremont and John Byrne co-wrote a two part issue of The Uncanny X Men entitled, Days of Future Past.   This story arc envisioned a nightmare future in which the world was ruled by a race of robots named Sentinels who had turned on humanity and enslaved the world after being created to hunt and apprehend mutants.  The story of Days of Future Past, involved an elder version of the X Men character Kitty Pryde being sent back three decades to erase this nightmare world from existence by enlisting the help of the second X Men to prevent the assassination that caused this future.

Along with two other Chris Claremont storylines The Phoenix Saga and The Dark Phoenix Saga, this storyline was adapted for television during the run of X Men The Animated Series.  The animated version of Days of Future appeared in the shows first season where the story was combined with another storyline about a mutant who betrayed the X-Men.  This was done to take advantage of the popularity of the recently introduced character, Bishop, a time travelling mutant from the mid 21st century.  Most recently Days of Future Past was adapted for the large screen by Bryan Singer as X-Men: Days of Future Past.

The plot of X-Men: Days of Future Past remains faithful to the plot of the original story that appeared in issues 141 and 142 of The Uncanny X Men with two key differences between them.  The past of the original storyline occurred in 1980, the year issues 141 and 142 were published, while the future segments occurred thirty-three years in the future.  In the film X -Men: Days of Future Past the past is instead the year 1973, in which the scenes occur against the backdrop of the final days of the Vietnam War while the future segments occur nine years into the future in the year 2023.   The world of the year 2023 as envisioned by Bryan Singer consists of cities that have become burned out husks and are no longer habitable.  The last surviving members of the X-Men are on the run from the Sentinels, their long time robotic enemy, who hunt both mutants and normal humans for although they were programmed to hunt mutants both humans and mutants are the same species and as such are biologically the same. 

In desperation Magneto and Professor Xavier have united to perform one last desperate gamble against the Sentinels.  With the assistance of Kitty Pride who has recently developed the ability to transit a person into the past, they will send someone back fifty years to prevent the assassination of Doctor Bolivar Trask, the man responsible for the creation of the Sentinels.  Although in the original story arc written by Chris Claremont and John Bryne it was Kitty Pride who travelled in time, in this version it is instead Wolverine who is sent back to undo what once went wrong.

By utilizing the concept of time travel, the writers are able to bridge the universe depicted in the original X Men trilogy with the cinematic universe depicted in the 2011 prequel film X Men: First Class.   For instance, the version of Cebero that appears in this film is the version that occupies an entire room instead of the James Bond inspired Cebero that appeared in X-Men: Days of Future Past.  In addition, the younger version of William Stryker from X 2: X Men United appears in 1973, while his older self appears in several flashbacks scenes to X2, allowing Brian Cox to cameo through the magic of archive footage.

This premise of time travel also allows for a reunion of the original X-Men cast.  As a result of this particular storyline both Patrick Stewart and Ian Mckellen return to play the older versions of Professor Charles Xavier and Magneto, while James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender continue to portray the younger versions of these two characters.  Patrick Stewart’s resume in genre films extends far beyond the first X Men film to when he portrayed Gurney Halleck in Dave Lynch’s 1980 film Dune and Captain Jean Luc Picard of the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-D in Star Trek: The Next Generation and the Star Trek films devoted to The Next Generation cast.  In X-Men: Days of Future Past Patrick Stewart once again displays the same command presence and leadership ability he portrayed countless times commanding the Enterprise D on its ongoing mission of exploration.  In doing so, he also displays once more the advantages of having Captain Jean Luc Picard star in a motion picture.  Ian Mckellen is also best known for his portrayal of Gandalf in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of The Rings trilogy and The Hobbit trilogy. 

Many members of the cast from the original X-Men films return to reprise their characters from the previous films, specifically Halle Berry and Hugh Jackman who return as Storm and Wolverine respectively.  However, two noticeable absences are Anna Paquin and Kelsey Grammer, who portrayed Beast in X-Men: The Last Stand.  Although Paqulin returns as Rogue her return is limited to only two scenes.  Kelsey Grammer’s absence is due to his obligations to the upcoming film Transformers: Age of Extinction, in which he will portray one of the films villains.   As the release dates for both Transformers: Age of Extinction and X-Men: Days of Future Past were three months apart both motion pictures where filmed at the same. 

In addition, Jennifer Lawrence and Nicholas Hoult return to reprise their versions of Mystique and Beast from X-Men: First Class.  There are several main additions to the X-Men cast for this film.  The French actor Omar Sy appears as the movie version of Bishop while Evan Peters portrays Magneto’s son Pietro Maximoff who is otherwise known as Quicksilver.  Peters role makes the first of the two different film versions of Quicksilver that theater goers will see this year as Marvel Studios, the film division of Marvel Entertainment which produces the Marvel Cinematic Universe films, is a different company than the one which owns the film and television rights to X-Men.  However, the most important new addition to the X-Men cast is Peter Dinklage who portrays Bolivar Trask, the inventor of the sentinels.  In X-Men: Days of Future Past his portrayal of Bolivar Trask is larger than life much like Ricardo Montalban in Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan.


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