I’ll probably get a lot of hate for this review, but I felt compelled to write this. I felt even more compelled to write the review after I went back and researched the overall ratings for this movie. Let me specify now that this review will definitely contain some spoilers. Those who have yet to watch it and are still willing to do so may want to skip this review to the end to hear my overall verdict. You may also want to visit this article on the 5 Things You Need to Know Before Watching the movie by Business Insider.
Many critics and movie-goers alike are lauding X-Men: Days of Future Past as the best or at least second best of all the X-Men movies. I’ll probably allow it that. But many are going on to say that it ties up all the loose ends of the series – and I will allow it that to some extent.
Agreeably, X-Men: Days of Future Past has allowed the series to revive itself, like a phoenix from its ashes, wiping away all the past events because of its ending, and beginning again with a fresh slate (and with a fresh parallel universe ala Apocalypse – the grey teenager you see at the end of the credits).
However, this X-men movie was by far not perfect. It was riddled with, not only plenty of plot holes and time-continuum errors but also, a subliminal male chauvinistic solution to humanity.
Now, before I continue with my criticism on this subject, let me first clear the air by stating that, on an entertainment stand-point, X-Men: Days of Future Past was definitely full of thrilling moments and jaw-dropping special effects. The production cast should definitely applaud themselves for the magnificent cinematic presence of each action-packed scene.
And secondly, I loved the casting as well. Who can say no to some of the most impactful names in Hollywood, including Jennifer Lawrence, Peter Dinklage, Ellen Page and Ian McKellen, sausage-stuffed into one great superhero bratwurst?
This critique will be more towards the plot than the production and casting of the movie itself. However, that’s not to say that the issues I have with the plot do not make a lasting impact on my overall impression on the movie (otherwise this review would cease to exist).
Let’s first start with the feminist critique I seek to deliver. (As some of you may know, I have made certain feminist critiques in the past. This one will certainly be no different.) My question throughout the movie is: where is the independence and strength of the mutant woman?
Spoiler: the women don’t talk much. I hope that I am not the only one who discerned that the entire script of the movie was want of a woman’s strong intellect and witty remarks. Agreeably you see Mystique, Kitty Pryde, Blink, Storm, and heck Jean Grey and Rogue in the mix of the men – but how many lines did the collective female mutants deliver? Were there even any women on the human side that made an impression in the movie?
The clear and obvious answer is “no”.
I was quite disappointed with the way they employed Jennifer Lawrence in her reprisal role as Raven/Mystique (I was apparently not the only one). It felt more like she was making a cameo (her original movie franchise being The Hunger Games) than an active role in the movie.
The way the script was anchored made it appear as though Raven was a prop rather than an individual. Mostly because a lot of the empathetic connection the audience is supposed to have towards her character is largely lost in this film. There is no sense of history as to how Raven should be feeling at the point in time in the movie. Hence, she falls into a typecast role as the “woman scorned”.
Their mission to go back in time to stop Raven from killing Bolivar Trask felt more like a mission to stop a bomb or an android rather than a person.
Agreeably Xavier gave Raven the choice to put down the gun or not, which seemingly gave her some level of initiative – but at that point in time in the movie, it was evident that Mystique would put down the gun – and without a very clear reason why she did it at the end – she seemed just as frustrated when she left.
There was never a clear motive. And without that clear motive, what makes her different from a landmine that just turned out to be a dud?
To emphasise further the extent to which Mystique was more of a puppet of the male agenda than a woman herself can be seen from the people she transforms herself into. It was sad to see that to enter into positions of power, Mystique was forced to become male figures, e.g. a male soldier, or a male politician, or the very male president – and often times through acts of seduction.
On the other hand, when it comes to vulnerability, when Mystique was on the streets and exposed as a mutant for all to see, she chose to turn into a woman – the stereotype of the victim in society. We must therefore question whether, Mystique adopting these stereotypes will translate to audiences as a subversion of stereotypes in society, or a means to perpetuate it. Personally, I’m inclined to believe the latter, due to the role Raven has as a woman in this movie on the macro standpoint. Indeed X-Men is all about the men.
Likewise, the character of Storm barely had any lines in the film. Blink barely said a word either. And Kitty was only the enabler of the time-travel. It is interesting to note that the people who were in the positions to change the course of history were all male. In the comic books it was supposed to be Kitty who travels back in time, not Wolverine. Not only was this movie about X-men, it was also apparently about hisstory.
I believe it was about the time the third X-Men movie came out, and the beginning of the Wolverine origin series where I began to get absolutely confused with how the timeline of the X-Men universe is supposed to play out.
If one were not confused with the timeline to begin with, X-Men: Days of Future Past adds to the confusion with its time-travel (ala Inception) element. It should be apparent in the title itself that there is a juxtaposition between future and past, a welcoming oxymoron. Okay, agreed, I should probably do my research on the timelines – but with the one or two year gaps between movies, and the fact that the movies should be quite accessible to begin with, my gripes should be reasonable enough (this man agrees with me).
Frankly there is too many things left unexplained and absolutely messy with X-Men – and maybe it is because of the comics themselves.
My questions include, but are not limited to:
- The time paradox: Kitty is able to send someone’s consciousness back in time to warn them about a future sentinel attack. However, how is she able to warn them if the past is changed such that they never get the attack, therefore she should never be able to go back and warn them in the first place?
- Kitty’s additional ability – how far can producers go to add on to mutant’s abilities for the sake of the plot?
- Blink’s teleportation powers: Didn’t the girl play Portal? Why didn’t she just abate the sentinels by sending them on an infinite loop? And why wasn’t she the one to send one of them into the past? Her powers seemed far more explanatory for science-fiction time-travel – and her powers appear to take a lot less out of her to do so.
And Buzzfeed has answered a few of the other ones I had too – but not without creating a few more.
After all these questions and criticisms, however, let me share some of my favourite scenes.
Personally, I love the character of Quicksilver. He added much needed humour to the prison break scene of Magneto from the Pentagon. I also liked the metaphor of Magneto bringing a stadium to the White House for the “final showdown”. It was incredibly befitting of his character. It also encapsulated a lot of what politics was like during that time period. I also appreciated the juxtaposition between the 70’s television filters and the actual scene that was happening when the mutants appeared on the streets and the sentinels attacked. It allowed one to straddle between the point-of-view of a person living in the 70s, watching these events unfold, and as an audience member with insider knowledge of the situation.
In terms of creating entertainment, there is no denying that X-Men is good at it. I would only hope that in the future, now that there has been a “reset button”, that the plot and characters would become tighter, with far fewer questions that spoil the broth.
There is no question that X-Men universe is incredibly enrapturing and captivating – but the movies themselves need to be accessible to more audience members, especially the kids who are just being introduced to it now. The current movies have so many references to them that, agreed, comic book fans will adore, but they have become so intrusive that occasional movie-goers of these movies, including myself, feel incredibly lost at times if we do not do our research beforehand.
Scenes, such as the after-credits where Apocalypse takes the stage as the next villain, lose their grandeur when we have absolutely no idea who or what is the magnitude/gravity of his appearance. (Fun facts: the shadows of the four horsemen are apparently visible in that scene, and the actual sequel, X-Men: Apocalypse is set to not take place in Ancient Egypt, so the actor playing Apocalypse will not be the same as the one in the after-credits.) And I know that the X-men situation has become grave when even my comic-book-addicted boyfriend turns to me after the movie and has a whole array of questions to ask me.
Overall I give it a 9/10 for entertainment, but, because of all these burning questions and foul sentiments, the overall film for me plummets to a 6/10. Those who have yet to see it and are huge X-Men fans should definitely check it out. It is definitely one of the better few, and with such an amazing cast ensemble, they should not miss it out. However, as for every other Hollywood movie, I recommend not going in and expecting great revelations about humanity or reflections upon our society. In other words, go in there for the special effects and action, not for the plot.
Till next time!