X MEN - DAYS OF FUTURE PAST
Review by Mark Schwab
The fifth installment of the X MEN franchise, Days of Future Past attempts to bring the title paradox together by bringing the whole gang of players onto the screen. We have the folks from First Class (James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence) as well as the old guard from the first three films (Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Hugh Jackman). In fact, pretty much every mutant that ever graced an X MEN movie can be spotted here (but some are so fast you'll wonder if it really was them). They even got Bryan Singer to come back and direct his first X MEN film since 2003 after Brett Ratner (Part 3) and Matthew Vaughn (First Class). Unfortunately, all this does is totally gum up the works making Days of Future Past a sticky bore.
The film is flat-footed right from the start as we find ourselves in a desperate future where most of the mutants, most of humanity in fact, has been wiped out by ultra powerful machines called Sentinels. The photography in these scenes is so murky and flat that I felt like I was watching a PS3 game instead of a Hollywood summer blockbuster. We then get Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart looking bored out of his mind) and his fellow mutant survivors give a ton of exposition trying to give the audience their bearings on where things have gone wrong. It is a very dull start from which the movie never really recovers.
The future mutants come up with a last ditch plan to send Wolverine (Hugh Jackman - scowling all of his lines in monotone) back to 1973, find the younger Xavier and Magneto (McAvoy and Fassbender) and stop Raven/Mystique (Lawrence) from assasinating the scientist (Game of Thrones Peter Dinklage) responsible for creating the Sentinels, thus changing the past, which changes the future, blah blah blah.
Most of the film takes place in 1973, probably because Stewart and McKellen couldn't be bothered. It was depressing watching these two wonderful actors in this. They look tired, they look old and are given almost nothing to do (McKellen's part is little more than a cadaverous cameo).
The First Class cast in 1973 fares only slightly better. Jennifer Lawrence shows no depth as Mystique, playing the part with as little enthusiasm as she can muster. Jackman huffs and puffs as Wolverine but never really figures into the plot and its outcomes. Fassbender's Magneto furrows his brow and has only one gear - intense. Only McAvoy as the young Charles Xavier manages to give his character some actual screen presence, rising above the lack of material he had to work with.
But it is hardly enough to overcome a movie with no tension, no driving narrative, no reason to care. They assembled an amazing cast and gave them nothing to work with. Someone really better bring an "A-game" for 2016's X MEN Apocalypse, because this kind of writing, directing and acting is just not going to cut it.