My 100 Favourite Films In Review – Number 70, X-Men: Days of Future Past

70 – X-Men: Days of Future Past:

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Ah so there’s that old franchise issue again. Unlike with the Alien series, here I had eight films to choose from. Also unlike that series, here I just decided to pick one film. Back when I first started this list, X-Men 2 was the representative. But times have changed. Oh boy, times have indeed changed. They haven’t really for the X-Men as a whole however; the comic began quite humbly in the 1960s – as a superhero team made up of a bunch of people with unique abilities. Rather than getting into accidents with radiation or mutated animals, their powers were genetic. Possessing the ‘x-gene’, each X-Man was a mutant with their own special ability. The X-Men have always had an enduring popularity in the mainstream. Since the theme at the heart of most X-Men stories is persecution, it meant that a lot of readers could relate to them. Ethnic minorities, homosexuals, people from different religions or even people who just didn’t fit in – all of them could sympathise with the X-Men. And in this case what made them different was usually something to be proud of. Likewise, rather than the typical dashing white male leads that graced comic book covers, the X-Men had its share of ass kicking females and minorities. And in these days, where big budget studio movies are dominated by white male leads, the X-Men usually offer up the chance for women and minorities to fight on equal playing fields. The X-Men franchise’s popularity is increasing every year. And I can think of no better entry to represent the film series than Bryan Singer’s masterpiece X-Men: Days of Future Past.

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X-Men‘s first issue – released 1961.

As said in the intro, the X-Men began humbly in 1961. The initial team assembled by Professor Charles Xavier had just five mutants – Cyclops, Beast, Angel, Iceman and Jean Grey. But over the years, the cast size ballooned to proportions that would make My Little Pony blush. The huge cast size has probably been a contributing factor to why there are so many different adaptations. For example, if you make a Superman adaptation, then you know there’s going to be Clark Kent, Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, the Daily Planet etc. If it’s a Spiderman adaptation then you have Peter Parker, Mary Jane Watson, Uncle Ben, Aunt May, J Jonah Jameson etc. With X-Men, you’re allowed to be a little more flexible. Part of the fun of seeing a new X-Men adaptation is finding out which characters are going to appear. There are the obvious favourites – Professor X, Magneto, Wolverine, Storm, Jean Grey – but there’s plenty of room to get really creative.

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In more ways than one.

X-Men’s popularity exploded in the 1980s, leading to a planned cartoon called Pryde of the X-Men – focusing on Kitty Pryde as she joins the team. Somewhere along the line it was retooled into the more memorable cartoon from the 90s. Another cartoon – and probably the best of them in my opinion – X-Men Evolution followed in the early 2000s. A third called Wolverine & the X-Men popped up in the late 2000s, followed by an anime series in 2011. On the big screen meanwhile, a feature film produced by 20th Century Fox came out around the same time as Evolution. It was a huge success and two more films were produced to make a trilogy. The third film was pretty divisive with fans, and the accompanying Wolverine spin-off movies were seen as a step down in quality. But hope in the series was resurrected when Fox decided to reboot the films with a prequel in X-Men: First Class – focusing on a younger Charles Xavier and Magneto assembling the initial team. So the film that I’m reviewing is a sequel to that one. But somewhere along the line, the decision was made to use it as a way of tying all the other films together. It’ll make sense once you get the context. But people these days that are used to sleek and sophisticated fare like Batman Begins, Man of Steel and the output from the Marvel Cinematic Universe – might not realise just how influential the initial X-Men films were for the superhero genre. I direct you to a rather infamous mid-90s superhero movie.

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Batman & Robin pretty much killed the genre for several years. But superhero movies had always done middling business before then anyway. Superhero movies were quite similar to how fantasy was before Lord of the Rings came along. They were usually pigeonholed into a ghetto where they were viewed solely as children’s fare, or guilty pleasure B-movies. Tim Burton had managed a black sheep hit with his 1989 Batman movie – but that franchise quickly became pigeonholed into the ghetto. Kids these days are spoilt for choice with all the glitzy MCU movies everywhere. But back in the 90s, the likes of Batman & Robin was what the general public thought a superhero movie was. Such and such star in a funky costume beating up some stock baddies. The X-Men films went a long way towards trying to make the superhero genre into something more complex than ‘let’s beat up the bad guys for 90 minutes’. Taking cues from Burton’s dark Batman films, they still kept their tone light enough so as not to alienate the children who would inevitably see the movies too. On a more superficial level, they swapped the colourful outfits for sleeker black uniforms – and kept using codenames to a minimum. The resulting seriousness helped bring the genre out of the ghetto of kids’ fare, and draw in teens and adults too. Blade deserves some of the credit too, but the X-Men series helped revive the superhero genre in the early 2000s – enough to erase Batman & Robin from recent memory. I also want you to take a look at the film’s line-up.

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Look up the filmographies of most of those actors, and check what they were doing beforehand. Most of the cast were relative unknowns. Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart were better known as Shakespearian actors, before Lord of the Rings and Star Trek helped make them household names (Star Trek itself being stuck in a ghetto during the 90s). Anna Paquin and Halle Berry were the only real names in the cast – Paquin having won an Oscar a couple years prior but hadn’t done anything of note, and Berry was on the rise but still more known as a model than an actress. It was a similar case with Famke Janssen and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, who were transitioning from modelling to acting. James Marsden was known for a few TV roles but nothing major. Hugh Jackman was virtually unknown, and it was a fluke that he got cast as Wolverine at all; Ever After star Dougray Scott was cast but had to drop out when Mission Impossible II ran over-schedule. What I’m getting at is that there wasn’t a single A-lister in there. Compare to the Batman films, which had the likes of Jack Nicholson, Kim Basinger, Michelle Pfeiffer, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Nicole Kidman to reel audiences in. So basically your superhero movie needed a top-tier star to break even at the Box Office. But the early 2000s saw a trend of casting unknown actors in film franchises – helped no doubt by Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. In this case, the franchise would sell itself and make the stars – rather than the other way around. The Marvel Cinematic Universe in particular is known for its dark horse casting – which is almost always spot-on. These films proved that such a tactic is viable. So I suppose it’s about time we actually see how this once-influential franchise attempts to compete with the moving times.

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The film opens showing us our future: a dark desolate world full of war, suffering and loss. Mutants are openly persecuted by things known as the Sentinels – cyborgs engineered to combat the mutants’ specific abilities. As such, mutants and humans that dared help them are slaughtered into near-extinction. We’re then shown an army of Sentinels ambushing a group of mutants in Moscow. Just so we can keep up, the mutants and their powers are as follows:

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Kitty Pryde/Shadowcat (Ellen Page) – can walk through walls and any solid matter. Her appearance in the third film in the original trilogy is what helped edge Ellen Page closer to her real star making roles.
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Bobby Drake/Iceman (Shawn Ashmore) – can produce ice out of thin air. Bobby was a regular of the original trilogy, and he’s also my favourite of the X-Men. Just throwing that out there.
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Warpath (Booboo Stewart) – superhuman strength, senses and reflexes. This is his debut in the film series.
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Sunspot (Adan Canto) – channels solar energy and can project it into fiery blasts. Oh and he can fly. He was meant to appear in First Class, but they just couldn’t fit him in.
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Colossus (Daniel Cudmore) – can plate his body with metal to withstand most major damage. He was a minor character in the original trilogy.
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Bishop (Omar Sy) – his abilities vary depending on the adaptation, but it’s usually some form of energy absorbing. Also the mundane, yet incredibly useful skill of knowing exactly when and where he is. As such he’s the X-Men’s poster child for dystopian futures, so his appearance here is almost a given.
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Blink (Fan Bingbing) – the extra cool ability to create portals out of thin air. Guess who gets to be the most creative during the fight scenes. Her actress is a huge star over in China, so casting her in such a minor role was likely a move to ensure good business over there.

An excellently done fight scene occurs. This particular scene is a great example of showing us everything we need to know about the Sentinels without a single line of exposition. We see them clearly adapting to the mutants’ abilities and overpowering them. We don’t need any of the characters to tell us they’re bad news; the scene shows it to us and explains everything we need to know. More superficially, the advances in special effects since the early 2000s mean that we get some stellar uses of powers. Bobby can finally go into his ice form and use his ice slides for instance. The most impressive character in this sequence is Blink. She doesn’t fight any Sentinels herself but she uses her powers to fantastic effect. I can’t stop mentally clapping every time I watch one of her scenes. She’s also beloved in the comics for the same reason. Anyway these Sentinels quickly get the upper hand and kill all the mutants – except for Bishop and Kitty. The later snarks “too late, assholes” before the whole scene vanishes out of existence.

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We’re then taken to the veteran X-Men. Once again for the sake of convenience, we’ll do a little role-call:

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Charles Xavier/Professor X (Patrick Stewart) – telepathic leader of the team. Known for his idealistic view that humans and mutants can live together peacefully.
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Erik Lensherr/Magneto (Ian McKellen) – manipulates any form of metal to do pretty much whatever he wants. He’s usually the villain of the series, wanting to eliminate the humans so that mutants can come out of hiding. But the war with the Sentinels has put him on the same side as Charles.
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Ororo Munroe/Storm (Halle Berry) – she can control the weather and fly. Storm was supposed to have a bigger role, but Halle Berry’s pregnancy forced them to reduce it.
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Logan/Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) – has a superhuman healing factor, preventing most injuries from killing him. He also ages slower than the average mutant. But what he’s really remembered for is his adamantium skeleton – which allows him to wield claws that shoot out of his knuckles.

The vets arrive at a temple in China, where they somehow hook up with the mutants we just saw being killed by the Sentinels. Now is the time for exposition though; Kitty explains that it’s all part of a system they have. Warpath senses when the Sentinels are coming, she is able to project Bishop back in time a few days to warn them, Blink scouts a safe area for them to flee to and presumably Bobby, Sunspot and Colossus are there in case they have any trouble. Once Bishop warns them of the attack and they escape, the original timeline where they get killed is erased – because it no longer happened. It’s lucky that Kitty has such a skill, because Charles has a plan.

His plan is to wipe the Sentinels out before they’re even invented. They were first created by a scientist called Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) in the 1970s. He had begun experimenting on mutants until a certain shapeshifter came calling. Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) had the ability to change her appearance into anyone she wanted. Usually known as a morally ambiguous villain in most adaptations, First Class decided to re-imagine her as Charles’s adoptive sister – and make her a more sympathetic character. Charles actually informs us that before she killed Trask, she had never taken another human life. But when she killed him, she ended up proving his point that mutants were a threat. And via samples of her DNA, the Sentinels were engineered. So Charles’s plan is to go back in time to the day Raven killed Trask, and stop her from doing so. Unfortunately, his mind would not be able to withstand being ripped apart in the process. But it’s quite lucky they have a character who can regenerate…

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Now this plot point got quite a bit of complaints from fans. In the comic book storyline that this movie is adapting, Kitty herself was the one who went back in time. And fans of the X-Men films have been a bit vocal about how Wolverine tends to overshadow the rest of the cast. While that criticism isn’t without some merit, I feel like I need to defend this decision somewhat. The first is that Kitty has been a minor character in the film series thus far. While Ellen Page is awesome, Kitty only had a real part in The Last Stand. And even then, she wasn’t prominent. She doesn’t have the same emotional connection to the characters. So if Kitty was the one trying to help them in the past, it wouldn’t have the same effect. The arc of the first trilogy had Charles helping Wolverine discover his past – and becoming something of a father/mentor figure to him. So the arc of this film has Wolverine trying to help Charles himself, in a reversal of their positions. Wolverine is the most troubled of the cast, so he is the best one to convince Charles of his own worth. And on a more superficial level, it’s not as if Wolverine is taking over the movie. When he goes to the past, he’s entirely in a supporting role. He has no arc in this film; the focus is entirely on Charles, Erik and Raven. It’s also not as if Kitty does nothing in the film either; she’s still essential to the plan. Her role in the film is fitting enough for how she had been presented in the series so far. If the resulting storyline hadn’t worked, I’d complain more. But the movie is friggin awesome as it is – so any changes they made to the story were for the best.

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Storm has the other X-Men spread out and stand guard, preparing to hold off the Sentinels when they inevitably attack. And this time when they attack, the X-Men won’t be able to run. Kitty explains that Logan must act quickly but also remain calm. If his mind gets ‘rocky’, she won’t be able to hold him – and he could slip between past and future. When he wakes up, any changes he’s made will take hold, and only he will remember the original timeline. He’ll have his work cut out for him in the past – as Charles and Erik couldn’t have been further apart in 1973. Erik had caused Charles to become paralyzed, and turned Raven against him. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Logan clears his mind as much as he can, and Kitty starts the process.

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Logan wakes up in 1973 – and he’s got the lava lamp and waterbed to confirm it. He wakes up in bed with someone else’s girlfriend, which presumably serves to give us our obligatory shirtless scene. It’s something of a running joke among fans that Hugh Jackman’s bare torso deserves top billing in the credits – but this movie went a step ahead and showed his ass too. It turns out that 1973 is pre-adamantium skeleton – and the claws that come out of his hands are bone. I have to say I’m a little crushed that Singer didn’t have Logan wake up in the middle of a disco club. He could have run into Dazzler…

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Actual X-Men character. Not kidding.

We’re introduced to our antagonist – Bolivar Trask. He’s trying to convince the suits in government that they need to greenlight the Sentinel program – or else the ongoing Vietnam War will only be second in terms of dangers they should be worried about. Speaking of Vietnam, we now switch to Saigon – where Raven has impersonated a colonel. She finds a room full of mutants who had been drafted into the army – but are to be sent back to America where they’ll presumably be experimented on by Trask. Raven’s fears are confirmed when a Major Stryker (Josh Hellman) tries to take them by force. As this group of mutants includes one of her fellow X-Men buddies Alex Summers, Raven gets violent and stops them from doing so. Alex manages to stop her from killing Stryker, and she helps the mutants board a helicopter out of Vietnam. She doesn’t go with them, saying “my war isn’t over.” I have to say that the idea of mutants in Vietnam is a rather interesting story idea. I’m not sure if the comics ever touched on that, but it’d be an intriguing direction for a future film to explore.

Logan meanwhile has driven to the Xavier Institute, which looks a good deal shabbier than what he’s used to. The door is answered by the young Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult), who claims that the school has been shut for years. Logan proceeds to show Hank why investing in a safety chain would be a good idea, and forces his way inside. In the third act of First Class, Hank had mutated into a blue furry beast. But here he’s back in his human state. Likewise, despite Charles being paralyzed in First Class, he now is able to walk. His younger self, played by James McAvoy, is quite different from the idealistic Charles Xavier we know and love. For one, he’s bitter and cynical – and has turned to drink to drown his sorrows. He’s indifferent to what Logan has to say and tells him to eff off. Hank explains that the Vietnam War led to the other teachers and students being drafted – which was the final straw for Charles. The reason he’s able to walk is that Hank developed a serum – but it has the side effect in that he can’t use his powers. After a few angsty moments in bed beside Raven’s picture, Charles agrees to help. He’s dubious about Erik though – since the man is currently in a cell at the Pentagon for killing JFK.

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Of course he did.

Our next stop is Trask’s headquarters – where Raven has snuck in disguised as him. She goes through his files to discover the truth about his mutant experiments. She also has to file through various photos of her dead friends. And so brings my only real gripe with the film. First Class spent some time introducing a new set of mutants, which this film just decided to kill off. It’s understandable, given that the cast size was already gigantic. But the likes of Azazel, Banshee and especially Emma Frost were quite interesting – and it’s a shame that they were all killed off. In particular, killing off Emma Frost and Angel Salvador has the unfortunate side effect of making the 1973 portions of the movie a sausage fest. In this part of the movie, Raven is the only female with a significant role. The rest of the prominent cast members are all male – Logan, Charles, Erik, Hank, Trask and Stryker. Emma and Azazel could definitely have made things very interesting in these portions – especially as villains forced to work together for the greater good. It’s a relatively small gripe – since the aforementioned roles are played so well. This is a great movie and most of the decisions made with the cast were good. It’s just annoying to see this movie fall so badly into the Smurfette Principle – when the X-Men films usually featured plenty of prominent female heroes. Coupling that with Storm and Kitty having minor roles in the 2023 portions, and it’s a little sad to see the movie focusing too much on the white male leads. Filmmakers seemed to be aware of this, as X-Men: Apocalypse is set to introduce four new females (Psylocke, Jubilee and younger versions of Storm and Jean) and bring back Rose Byrne’s Moira McTaggart. Storm, Jubilee and Psylocke also double as adding more minorities to the main cast. But I’m getting off track here. Raven discovers that Trask is heading to Paris for a peace summit, and gets a list of the other guests. Elsewhere, Logan brings Hank and Charles to a guy he knows will be able to break Erik out of prison.

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Meet none other than Quicksilver (Evan Peters). In this, he becomes the first X-Men to appear in both this franchise and the Marvel Cinematic Universe – where he’s played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson (who starred alongside Peters in Kick Ass). It took a few rather intense negotiations to get an agreement to have the character appear in both this and Avengers: Age of Ultron. Both films did such a great job with the character, but the X-Men version appears to be the one who’s sticking around. Anyway if Quicksilver wasn’t in the film, then Blink would be the biggest one scene wonder. This part was originally going to be given to Juggernaut, and indeed that’s who Josh Hellman was first cast as. But they absolutely made the right choice in changing to Quicksilver. Evan Peters is hysterical in his little portion, and my writing really can’t do him justice. He was Momma Calloway’s favourite in the film – and she’s practically in love with Michael Fassbender (who plays the young Erik). The sequence of them busting him out of the Pentagon culminates in a memorable sequence where Quicksilver just disarms all the security guards – and Bryan Singer made the excellent choice to slow the film down and show what Quickie does while he’s speeding around.

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They decide not to take a teenager with them to avert an assassination (because clearly even they have standards) and send Quicksilver home until the plot requires him in X-Men: Apocalypse. They board a private jet to Paris but tensions are running high between Charles and Erik. It’s actually Erik who really gets angry though – and while First Class showed what he could do to submarines, this shows that he’s just as big a threat to the harmony of airborne crafts too. He screams at Charles for letting their mutant friends die and get experimented on by Trask. Although he doesn’t quite bring the plane out of the sky, it’s clear there’s a lot of unresolved issues. As this is such an intense scene, feel free to cheer yourself up by watching Fassbender and McAvoy reacting to all the fan art of themselves.

It’s now time to visit a Parisian night club, with a super catchy French cover of “Stop in the Name of Love” playing in the background. Raven is flirting with a Vietnamese general and talks herself into his hotel room. But she’s here on business, and chokes him out so she can take his place at the peace summit. Back on the plane, Erik and Charles have calmed down somewhat. Erik claims he was trying to save JFK because he was a mutant too. This was actually going to be a bigger plot point in Matthew Vaughn’s initial treatment – where Erik would assassinate him in revenge for having Azazel and Angel killed. It would be left in doubt as to whether Raven and Emma had framed him, and Raven would have impersonated JFK in an unsuccessful attempt to get power. Erik confesses that he hasn’t seen Raven in years, and Charles still holds her betrayal against him. But they’re able to have a semi-civil game of chess. The next day in Paris, Trask speaks to the summit about the sentinel program. He announces that the system can even detect a mutant among them – and it goes off. Raven has no choice but to reveal herself and clear the room. Charles and co arrive to help her. But we have a whole hour to go in the movie, so our antagonist conflict can’t be resolved so easily. In comes Erik – who picks up a gun to use on Raven.

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“Villain, remember?”

I have to say that I was a little annoyed to see him revert to classic villainy yet again. I almost feel as if Trask and the Sentinels were high stakes enough on their own, and having Magneto up to his old tricks again was a little tiresome. Admittedly it is within character, and Fassbender does a good job – so it’s a minor gripe. Anyway Raven tries to escape out the window, but Erik’s bullet catches her in the leg. She’s also just landed on a public street in front of an entire news crew – in her natural blue form.

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“Awwwwkwaaarrd…”

Things get even worse when Logan bumps into Major Stryker and subdues him. Perhaps now is a good time to tell you Mr Stryker’s first name. It’s William. As in the William Stryker who gave Logan his adamantium skeleton in the first place, and served as the antagonist for the second film in the original trilogy. Understandably the shock of being reunited with Stryker causes Logan to slip out of consciousness. In the future he goes a bit mad, and hurts Kitty with his claws. Back in the past, Charles covers for the confused Logan by telling him he’s on acid. Erik meanwhile attacks Raven, showing off his powers to the public too. Hank has now reverted to his furry form and stops him from killing her. The chaos caused by seeing three mutants in public allows Raven to escape in disguise. Back in the future, Kitty is weakened but is able to reconnect Logan. The damage has been done however; Trask is able to convince the president to greenlight the Sentinel program. Trask also says he’ll need Raven alive for research purposes.

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Possibly for entertainment purposes as well.

Speaking of Raven, we now get a very low-key but effective scene of her getting patched up in the hospital. The nurse tending to her is watching the report about the attack earlier, wondering about who the blue-skinned girl is. The nurse wonders if she has a family, to which Raven responds that she does – in a bittersweet tone. Depending on your interpretation, it looks as if Raven was touched by Charles’s knight in shining armour moment. She’s considerably less wistful when she finds Erik in a train station. He tells her of the bad future, and also that it’s now too late to stop Trask – as her blood was on the pavement, and they now have her DNA. He suggests joining him and rising against the humans, but Raven just wants to kill Trask and avenge their friends. The following exchange is simple but pulled off oh-so-well.

Erik: “Killing one man isn’t enough.”

Raven: “It never was for you.”

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“You should put some ointment on that burn, sweetie.”

Charles, Logan and Hank arrive back at the Xavier mansion just in time for Charles’s serum to start wearing off. And as his legs go, his powers come back. He can read Logan’s mind and know he doesn’t feel too hopeful. Even so, Logan convinces him not to re-take the serum. It looks like we might be getting a breakthrough. Over at Trask’s lab, the good doctor is already hard at work on Raven’s DNA. He tells Stryker that he actually admires what mutants can do, and actually sees them as humanity’s salvation. The only problem is that they are dangerous and need to be controlled. So that’s what the Sentinels will do. Back in the mansion, Charles enters Cerebro for the first time in years. But the strain is too much for him and he can’t find Raven. Charles has finally had enough, and decides that the whole ordeal has been one huge mistake. Logan feels that it’s time for a pep talk, and informs Charles that there was a time when he was the most helpless student at the institute. But Charles was the one who helped him. And so he gives Charles permission to go inside his head. What he sees isn’t pretty…

For those not quite in the loop – Jean Grey was Logan’s crush but her powers proved too strong and he had to kill her to save everyone. This is almost too much for Charles again, but Logan urges him to look past the pain – and into his own future. Charles is able to literally go into the future and have a sort of psychic conversation with his future self. This was apparently James McAvoy’s first day on set, and he was quite delighted at getting to share a scene with Patrick Stewart. Hugh Jackman talks about sneaking a look at him while he was supposed to be unconscious – and getting blown away by his performance. And Patrick Stewart and James McAvoy sharing the screen is every bit as brilliant as you’d expect. The future Charles assures his younger self that Erik was his enemy for years – but they’re ending their lives on the same side. And if the humans intend to set the Sentinels on them, they must show them a different path, and build a better world.

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Erik is then shown doing something that my writing finds it hard to describe. I’ll just say he ‘boards a train’.It turns out that this train is carrying prototypes for the Sentinels. Eric injects them with metal so he’ll be able to control them later. In the future, Kitty is losing a lot of blood and is finding it hard to maintain Logan. Bobby’s all for breaking it up and taking their chances, but Charles has just felt the breakthrough and advises them to wait just a little longer. Sure enough in the past, Charles is able to use Cerebro to intercept Raven at an airport. Even though she still refuses to turn around and come home, her tone with Charles is different. Unlike when she spoke to Erik, she’s softer and more understanding. So although Charles can’t talk her down, it looks like there’s still hope. He’s also able to see that Raven is boarding a plane to Washington DC. Hank confirms that there will be another summit at the White House tomorrow morning. So Raven is planning to kill Trask there. Hank seems to have given up, but luckily Charles hasn’t. After all, because someone stumbles – it doesn’t mean they’re lost forever. In DC, Eric strolls into headquarters and picks up his old helmet.

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“Do you want to talk about shit getting real, or should I?”

On the plane to DC, Logan asks Charles to do one more thing: promise he’ll find the X-Men and assemble the team. Speaking of the team, the future X-Men sense the Sentinels on their way. Erik goes to join the others outside to help hold them off. Back in the past, Charles is able to sneak himself, Hank and Logan into the address. Trask and Stryker are already in attendance. The Sentinel prototypes are shown to the crowd, and we see that Raven is there disguised as a guard. We then see Erik now suited up and casually lifting an entire stadium off the ground.

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My reation exactly, Cid.

Charles is able to find Raven and use his powers to hold her. But Magneto is able to use his powers to activate the Sentinel drones, and Trask instantly knows that something is wrong. And they open fire. The men in power take shelter in the president’s bunker, not knowing Raven is in there with them. The holy shit quotient is upped when Erik drops the stadium on the area. In the future, the Sentinels approach and the others prepare for battle. We get a ridiculously awesome sequence of Magneto directing the jet into the army of Sentinels – where Storm then detonates it with her powers. Unfortunately, there are three casualties from this battle.

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Although this is quite a spectacular display of fight choreography and special effects, I really do want to sing the praises of this particular sequence from a filmmaking perspective. It’s not that often you see a battle like this in a superhero movie. This isn’t the Avengers heroically saving New York, or Batman and co stopping Doomsday. This is Butch Cassidy facing off the entire Bolivian Army. From the beginning, you know this battle is hopeless. You’ve seen these characters die horribly in one timeline, and it’s only a matter of time before it has to happen again. Things in the 70s aren’t going much better – as Erik pitches Logan into the river and makes sure he won’t be getting out any time soon.

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Inside the president’s bunker, Trask’s device goes off again to signal that there’s a mutant in there with them. But that’s a moot point when Erik uses his powers to bring the bunker above ground. His speech about mutant supremacy is intercut with shots of the Sentinels in the future killing off the remaining mutants. Future Erik sums it up nicely:

“All those years wasted fighting each other, Charles. To have a precious few of them back.”

Bobby now leaves Kitty’s side to act as the last line of defence against the Sentinels. Back in the past, it appears that the president himself is stepping forward to challenge Erik. But the confused cabinet men look around to see that the president is still with them – meaning it’s Raven in disguise! She reveals herself and shoots Erik in the neck, deactivating all the Sentinels as a result. But when she turns the gun on Trask, Charles gets into her head once again. He refuses to shut her down though, and apologises for trying to control her ever since they met. It’s up to her to decide if she wants mutants to be seen as the enemy. And as the future Sentinels proceed to finish off everyone else…Raven puts the gun down.

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And thankfully doesn’t replace it with a bow.

She bids goodbye to Charles and Hank, while taking Erik’s helmet so he can’t get too trigger happy with his powers. Erik flees too, but Charles lets him go. He knows there will be a day when all of them will be united at last. As for Logan, he wakes up in the new future to be greeted by the now-alive Storm, Kitty, Colossus and Bobby – as well as cameos from Anna Paquin as Rogue, Kelsey Grammar as the older Hank, James Marsden as Scott/Cyclops and Famke Janssen as Jean Grey. We also find that in this new, good future Logan is a professor of history – which is quite fitting for a man who’s over a hundred years old. We cut back once more to the 70s – where a newspaper says that Trask’s project was shut down and he was jailed. Major Stryker appears to be fishing Logan out of the water, but his eyes flash yellow to show that it’s Raven – showing that things might be different for him in the future too.

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Hopefully not THAT different.

There seems to be a lot of questions asking about why they don’t just kill Trask to spare everyone a lot of bother. Quoting Erik, killing one man isn’t enough. And Trask is only one man. His research is already up and running, with hundreds of other people working on it. And the Sentinel prototypes were already fully functional by the time of the peace summit. If Raven kills him, there are still plenty of others who can take over. And any attempt on Trask’s life when he’s preaching anti-mutant stuff is going to look like a terrorist attack. The Sentinels are approved by the government after Raven and Erik very publicly get into a fight at the summit. The only way to truly stop the Sentinel program is for all the research to be destroyed. And the way it worked out in the film was that it looked as though the Sentinels were faulty, went rogue and started attacking innocent people. With Raven saving the men’s lives by neutralising Erik, that makes them question whether mutants are the enemy. That’s all enough for Trask to be discredited, and give the government the green light to shut down his project and cancel all his research. Raven can also tell the government that Trask was pulling soldiers out of the Vietnam War to be experimented on. So things worked out in the best way they possibly could – with Trask discredited and thrown in prison, and the public seeing that mutants aren’t the enemy after all. At least until the post-credits scene…

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So yeah, after X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the public’s opinion of the X-Men film series was pretty low. And once the Marvel Cinematic Universe was up and running, a lot of fans were hoping Fox would give the X-Men film rights back to Marvel. If X-Men: First Class got the ball rolling, then Days of Future Past helped kill off a lot of comic book fans’ anxieties. This was proof that the X-Men films could stand on their own against the Marvel outings. And what I especially love is that it’s not a case of either/or – because all these movies are worth seeing. We thought the golden age of superhero movies was the early 2000s – but the quality of them just keeps going up. This is an example of comic book story telling at its best – with top quality actors, eye-popping special effects, proper attention to story and character development, and dynamic filmmaking techniques. This movie in particular does very little wrong – and even those tiny things I had to nitpick were very minor gripes. I had no problem picking which movie would represent the X-Men franchise and now, as X-Men: Apocalypse approaches us, it’s a tough act to follow.

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Just because one film stumbles, it doesn’t mean their grades are lost forever.

*Story? It’s a good one! This has probably the most intense, hard-hitting story of any X-Men film – and it’s an especially great interpretation of a time travel plot. A+

*Characters? The movie juggled as many as it possibly could. Some were unfortunately relegated to cameos, but I’m glad they were able to include as many as they did. Out of the various supporting characters, Blink was probably the most memorable. B

*Performances? McAvoy, Fassbender, Jackman, Hoult, Dinklage and Lawrence were the ones who got the most screen time and they made the most of it. McKellen, Stewart, Berry, Ashmore and Page will be missed in future instalments. A

*Visuals? Bryan Singer had to tread carefully with the 70s setting. This decade in particular was known for the garish fashions and hairstyles, and there could have been much unintentional comedy from being too period-accurate. But Singer managed to avoid that, and made them feel authentic rather than dorky. A

*Special Effects? This one got an A for the first battle scene alone. But the effects are fantastic across the entire film. A

*Anything Else? N/A

Up next, we have the first of our honorary picks on this list – Renny Harlin’s Mindhunters.

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