May 26 2014

X-Men: Days of Future Past

Published by at 4:39 pm under Movie Review

  • In my opinion, it was the best superhero movie this year (Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Captain America 2 so far). UPDATE: Not as good as Guardians of the Galaxy.
  • The action scene with the speedster (Quicksilver) was great, but I think it indicates how ridiculously hard it would be to use a speedster as anything but a one-off change of pace rather than a main character. Quicksilver spends the rest of the movie at home because his powers were strong enough that he would have broken the plot.
  • The plot holes are massive. SPOILERS:
    • The movie apparently isn’t sure how many people know about / are afraid of mutants. For example, at one point a government official claims that the whole mutant business in Cuba (X-Men: First Class) was “unconfirmed.” Several mutants employed by the CIA engaged several U.S. and USSR ships, with probably thousands of people witnessing a destroyer being telekinetically lifted from the sea and at least 10 military casualties. If mutants can get through that “unconfirmed,” I need to hire their publicist and/or defense attorney. Later on, there’s a scene where a U.S. businessman reveals to a (North) Vietnamese delegation that one of their members is a mutant and they instantly freak out. So… people do care what mutants are?
    • One recurring limitation of the X-Men series is that the plot is frequently driven by stupidity. For example, Dr. Trask has an apparently foolproof mutant-detection device but forgets to use it at a presidential press event. It works out as well as you’d imagine. Also, taking Magneto into custody is definitely an idiot ball — “maybe the next beyond-maximum-security prison we build for him will work better than the last twenty!”
    • Another recurring limitation of the X-Men series is that its characters are terribly uncreative when it comes to solving problems besides just killing people. For example, you’d think that a character with the ability to impersonate anyone would be able to come up with some more creative way to discredit a (criminal) scientist than martyring him and instantly vindicating his research. For example, exposing that he’s a criminal and/or committing outlandish acts while impersonating him? Or that he’s simultaneously offered to help a communist government AND forgot to bring his mutant-detection device to a presidential event attacked by mutants?
    • It is completely unbelievable that the final confrontation between Magneto, Mystique, and the President ends well for most mutants.

17 responses so far

17 Responses to “X-Men: Days of Future Past”

  1. BlackDragonon 28 May 2014 at 7:24 pm

    Pietro’s or “Peter’s” *rolls eyes* powers were not too great, yes he would of broken the simplistic plot but that doesn’t mean a speedster can’t be done. If anything they made him too fast. The part where he stands still and pushes the bullet from Eric’s face is crazy.

    He has super speed people. He is not mutant Jesus.

    The flash in Smallvile is a perfect example of how it should be done. Fast but we can we his streak, his running causing wind and objects to move. We can feel and follow what’s happening.

    This film had many noticeable defects, for one the writing so cliché I had de ja vu watching it. Charter goes back in time, no one believes him then they do, then they go to stop that one event that changes EVERYTHING. Ooops it didn’t work yet. Now the guy/girl we were trying to find comes to their senses. Future is saved. Yaaaaay! could of sworn a better version of this film happened more than once in the 90’s TV show..

    The film felt so small, it’s just Logan and friends trekking around in the past, also this must be Wolverine’s worse movie yet, the guy is a wet blanket with few decent lines. Why not send Bishop and Kitty back? do you really think people woulden’t see a movie without Wolverine. He is only popular because he is all you give us. Kitty is sweet, relatable, insecure a normal teen, it would of been far better seeing her in this situation, seeing her worry seeing her bond with Charles. Whilst we have Bishop there to be the muscle and par take in the final fight.

    It’s now the mystique show everybody. Another thing I really hate. A fine villain, not the person to focus a whole film on. I just do not care about her to that extent. They give me no reason too. We are told by Charles she is amazingly wonderful throughout. Sorry, I just don’t SEE it. To me she is a whiny short sighted, entitled pre Madonna, murderer. I couldn’t care less about her, well not as a main character.

    So many characters in the film so little to do. They may as well have saved money and done em up in CGI. I mean why not? they get one or no lines. They just have a 30 second fight scene till they die or we find them standing around looking intently at Eric, desperately trying to maintain interest as he bangs on about his old blue flame. So many characters wasted.

    It’s not all bad. The sentinel fight is great!, the only thing in any X-men film that made me think I was watching X-men. Okay. maybe the toad fight in X1 but it’s few and far between. Oh wait, I need more positives? ermm…. Did this film really need to be 2 hours and 10 minutes long btw? I mean it’s such a basic premise. They fill time by having Wolvy past brought up again, and AGAIN. There’s some sort of weird implied incest love triangle going on… Mystique goes around doing stuff, cause she’s, you kno Mystique. The others all wait patiently in the future mumbling lines of worry to try and create tension where there is none..

    Then they stop BSing us and we get the predictable climax. Which like I said had great action in it. Magento was a real boss and I was left thinking, well I guess it wasent all bad…

    …Wait is that Jean grey? woah didn’t you guys know Jean grey is in the movie. Hang on, like Omg Cyclops!? isen’t he like the leader or something? oh wait, he’s still a womanizing jerk who were supposed to hate for blocking Wolvys penis, oh……… wait X-men 3 never happened? how would the sentinel war not happening prevent the phoenix sage from occurring when it did?… hey, I asked you a question. I said how would that one event stop other completely unrelated events from ever happening?… stop feeding us this pig slop!! I’m only three quarters pig.

  2. B. McKenzieon 28 May 2014 at 11:50 pm

    “To me she is a whiny short sighted, entitled pre Madonna, murderer.” If I could play devil’s advocate, she has a goal and she’s attempting to go about it in at least a semi-competent way. Personally, I think she’s less entitled than Magneto — e.g. Magneto’s behavior at the White House was easily the most short-sighted action in the movie, and nicely contrasted by a surprisingly mature/altruistic Mystique willing to sacrifice herself on behalf of an unfriendly President because (presumably) she knew that stopping Magneto would likely save millions of lives.

    Magneto’s actions throughout the movie are consistently of questionable intelligence, but whatever the **** he was attempting to do at the White House is almost certainly the least intelligent decision in the entire X-Men series and arguably any film based on a Marvel property. Advice to anyone visited by the last survivors of a dystopian future: if your future self sends an emissary to tell you that a war between X and Y has devastated the Earth, deciding to start a war between X and Y is both idiotic and insane. He solves problems like the Hulk does — he doesn’t have the ability to consider any alternative to showing up and blowing shit up. In contrast, any remotely intelligent character that had the ability to secretly seize control of the Sentinels could surely have figured out a way to permanently discredit the Sentinel program (and perhaps eliminate a few enemies along the way) without getting the Earth ravaged.

    Doesn’t it seem sort of strange that Magneto is so… uninterested in learning more about the future and/or about whether his plan to attack the White House might bring about this apocalyptic future? No, because he’s the Hulk.

  3. B. McKenzieon 29 May 2014 at 12:04 am

    “oh wait, he’s still a womanizing jerk who were supposed to hate for cock-blocking Wolvy…” Ah, I think I interpreted Cyclops’ behavior differently — given Wolverine’s history with women, I think it’s entirely normal for Cyclops to get protective if/when Wolverine acts like Wolverine. I feel the film shows him acting pretty reasonably in context, and I don’t think the film pushes viewers one way or the other to root for either side of a love triangle that is only covered for maybe 10 seconds.

    What the film DOES push, I feel, is forgiving outlandishly evil people even if they’re pursuing outlandishly evil goals that will almost certainly get millions (maybe hundreds of millions) of people killed. Personally, my approach would be more along the lines of killing Magneto and possibly Mystique ASAP. They’re both serial killers that can break out of any prison more or less at will, so I think this is a pretty easy call. Instead, I think the movie casts Xavier’s decision to allow Magneto and Mystique to leave the White House in a sympathetic light, even though that makes him sort of complicit in Magneto’s ****ing stupid plan and/or completely helpless to stop him. The heroes are very ineffectual here.

    Alternately, if eventually redeeming Magneto (even though he destroyed most of the world in the process) is supposed to feel meaningful, I’d recommend giving him a larger role in the future…

    As nonsensical as the resolution to the final fight was (i.e. there is no remotely believable way that Magneto’s attack improves mutant-human relations), I think the worst part of the movie was basically every line from the Xavier of the future. His dialogue was mushy enough that I feel it noticeably detracted from his scenes (e.g. contrast older Xavier’s sappy attempts to guide/educate characters with younger Xavier’s attempts to persuade/coerce Mystique).

  4. BlackDragonon 29 May 2014 at 7:03 am

    Regarding Cyclops. I don’t know about that, he can be protective but not so insecure that he won’t let another guy touch “his woman” even with the imagery they really just don’t want us to like him. They give him a small squinty darker visor to represent miss trust, they keep it on him in this scene, even though he would normally wear bright sunglasses when not on a mission. He also has the most cardboard cut out personality of any X-man. I just want one movie. Just one were the actual leader of the X-men is the cool confident guy from the comics and Tv shows.

    Yeah Eric isen’t all that bright but he has a simplistic goal he refuses to change no matter how logical, it becomes a bit silly. Mystique maybe she wasn’t as bad as Eric but I just couldn’t bring myself to care about her, she is a villain at the end of it, her actions do nothing to change that view. Saying this, I guess logic is left at home when your lead characters are Magneto, Wolverine and Mystique. Serial killers. I mean, Logan kills like three guys when he first gets back, but it’s ok, though! they were in his way… I suppose we need conflict but there should be a limit, send back a half intelligent character like Kitty, or who ever that fire guy was, Sunspot? the guy who does like nothing? yeah send him back too.

    It’s a bit too easy to believe that not killing Trask but instead declaring war on the humans and threatening to kill them all, PREVENTS a war in he future… they are just asking us to believe too much BS. but, but, Mystique saved all those people! and killed dozens more through out? forget that, she saved the future! she’s a hero now. No, if anything the war should happen to a far more chaotic degree now, right? cause the threat is now FAR bigger than just one man being assassinated? oh gosh, my head hurts thinking about this movie….

    Another thing regarding the metal. I swear Trask said specifically they woulden’t be made of metal. yet then they were? maybe he was talking about the future ones? I don’t know there are so many “Trask sits/stands in room talking to government guys” that they blurr into one.. also why is Mystiques DNA not good enough? what difference would it make to have her whole body when you can recreate the chemical build up from what you have?

    Agreed! all Xavier’s lines in fact generally all the scenes In the future were poor, towards the end I was expecting a sharp back and forth between and intense battle in the future and an intense battle in the present. Instead we have ten second fight scenes. Again I agree Xavier’s and Mystique in the past had the most, maybe the only real character moments, but did we really come to the film to see them? I certainly didn’t.

    The worst part for me, was… erm, well Il say any solo scene with Mystique going around killing people, interest level close to zero.

  5. B. McKenzieon 30 May 2014 at 12:32 am

    “I swear Trask said specifically they woulden’t be made of metal. yet then they were? maybe he was talking about the future ones?” I believe that the 1970s Sentinels were made without metals, but Magneto sabotaged them on the train by injecting them with metal so that he could (???) control them somehow? Apparently injecting them with metal also gave him the ability to control their programming, seeing as he was able to keep them from identifying him as a mutant. (As far as I can tell, logic was definitely not a key selling point for this movie).

    “what difference would it make to have her whole body when you can recreate the chemical build up from what you have?” Well, there are interesting aspects to her physiology that (I’m guessing) wouldn’t be covered by a trace blood sample. For example, if he’s interested in knowing how her bone structure adapts as her body changes size and density, I’m guessing he probably wouldn’t be able to examine that with a blood sample.

  6. Kenon 01 Jun 2014 at 8:34 am

    B.Mac, what we’re your thoughts on The Amazing Spider-Man 2?

  7. B. McKenzieon 01 Jun 2014 at 9:33 am

    Amazing Spider-Man 2:

    I thought it was much better than most critics gave it credit for. The comedy was very sharp and the characters have more personality than the cast of Captain America 2.

    The movie’s main problem was that it was bloated and wasted time on unnecessary scenes. SPOILERS:
    –Every scene with Paul Giamatti as Rhino. Between Electro, Oscorp, and Osborne Jr., the movie doesn’t need additional villains.
    –Aunt May’s two scenes as a nurse and all of the scenes involving the near-collision of the planes. I would speculate that these scenes were intended to show that regular people are not completely useless, but personally I think the fire department cameo and Gwen Stacey’s final scene covered that ground a lot more interestingly.
    –Basically everything that happens after Gwen Stacey’s death. Personally, I would have taken 2-3 minutes after Gwen’s death for resolution and setting up the sequel. I believe the actual movie took ~15 minutes after Gwen’s death for setting up the sequel, a bizarrely long amount of time in a movie that was already considerably longer than normal.
    –Peter’s parents, especially the death scene. (I’m not sure about eliminating the parents altogether, though — I like the contrast between what Peter and Harry inherited from their fathers).
    –Gwen’s speech towards the beginning of the movie. (Personally, I would have only shown the speech itself when Peter watches the replay).

    Out of the 142 minutes of run-time (which I think was probably too long in this case), I’d say there were 110-120 that ranged from good to great and 20-30 that really needed to be removed or overhauled.

    Another recurring problem was that Electro was a joke villain. Jamie Foxx has frequently had problems making his characters likable (particularly the crazy ones), but his scene with Gwen Stacey in the elevator was over-the-top weird, even for him. If I had had complete control over the movie, I’d have felt a lot more comfortable recasting Electro or preferably eliminating Electro altogether in favor of Dane DeHaan, whose performance and character (Harry Osborne) I found a hell of a lot more interesting than a guy who wrote a birthday card for himself so that he could talk with people about how cool his fake birthday party was.

    Also, I noticed throughout the movie that there was a lot of incompetence from virtually everybody besides Peter, Gwen, and possibly Harry.
    –Oscorp security spots Gwen Stacey but can’t keep her from just walking out of the building.
    –An Oscorp guy can’t turn off the power for Max because he’s on the way out the door. Max compounds this stupidity by not waiting for the next employee to begin his shift. Apparently he was in a rush to get to that fake birthday party.
    –Someone can get face-to-face with a supervillain in a maximum security prison by tasering two security guards and pulling a fire alarm.
    –After Harry gets fired as CEO, he leaves the building without being escorted by security, even though he’s a major security risk and the building contains various (unguarded) supervillain prototypes.
    –Peter Parker spills hot coffee on three security guards looking for Gwen Stacey. She gets away and they let HIM walk away as well without stopping to consider whether that guy that just tied their shoelaces together might have had something to do with her getting away.
    –Supposedly Max’s burning desires are 1) to meet Spider-Man and 2) to be recognized. I say “supposedly” because he never actually DOES anything about either. In contrast, when Harry Osborne wanted to meet Spider-Man, he made it happen pretty intelligently. For most of the movie, Electro comes across as annoying and totally helpless. In contrast, I think Dane DeHaan did a vastly better job with a “everyman” villain in Chronicle. DeHaan’s character was a lot less crazy and had some scenes where he was basically competent.
    –Minor example: Peter Parker’s father sacrificed himself to upload his files to a secret lab that no one else knew about? 1) Why were these plans not already in his lab? 2) What good would these files have done if he had been killed?
    –Unbeknownst to basically everyone, Peter’s father used his own DNA as part of the spider experimentation (for no in-story reason), which means that Oscorp has a lot of motive to kidnap Peter if they ever found that out. Mr. Parker’s idea to provide for Peter’s safety is to leave him with an aunt and uncle who have no idea what’s going on.
    –Why does Peter’s father admit on tape that he used his own DNA in the tests? That could only endanger Peter. (Look at how close Oscorp came to retrieving the laptop).
    –Peter Parker’s attempts to photograph a Spider-Man fight caused him a lot of problems in the first movie (e.g. Lizard was able to use that to figure out that he was Peter Parker). After all of that, why would Peter Parker try selling photographs of himself?

  8. B. McKenzieon 01 Jun 2014 at 11:04 am

    “Serial killers. I mean, Logan kills like three guys when he first gets back, but it’s ok, though! they were in his way…” Yeah, killing them was not necessary. In his defense, he does try to intimidate them out of a fight, but when the fight started, he was not creative enough to come up with an alternative to killing everybody (which would have been pretty easy for a character that’s immune to bullets). X-Men characters just aren’t very creative.

    Especially given the unusual circumstances (time-travel), randomly killing 3 people from the past in the first minute bodes really, really badly.

    I will say this, though… Characters that make messy and/or really unusual decisions almost always make more for more interesting shows/movies than 100% by-the-book professionals. X-Men just needs to do a better job coming up with unusual and/or messy decisions besides serial killing. For example, Quicksilver’s Pentagon scene had a lot of character/personality and he was easily, I think, the most likable character of the film.

  9. TitleManon 05 Jun 2014 at 10:03 am

    Hey, can we get an article on how to title your comic book? Some do and don’ts, perhaps? Just on how to name your comic book other than the bland ‘ol “Amazing-Man”?

  10. B. McKenzieon 05 Jun 2014 at 10:58 pm

    TitleMan, here are some preliminary thoughts:

    1. As always, each publisher has different tastes. I’d recommend taking a look at what sorts of titles your target publishers have worked with recently. If 90%+ of the titles for works similar to yours are 1-3 words and named after a person or team, I’d recommend trying to stay somewhat close to what they are currently publishing unless you have a really compelling reason otherwise.

    2. For comic books, I highly recommend a title shorter than 20 characters long (i.e. 1-3 words for the most part). That will make your logo designer’s work much easier. I believe that it’s standard practice to have comic titles/logos in huge letters (to make them more legible at a distance), which would be very challenging if your title were (say) Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (37) or The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (31).

    3. With superhero comics (especially Marvel and DC), it’s fairly standard to name the series after a character, team, or more rarely a type of person (e.g. Inhuman). Of the 100 bestselling superhero comics last month (April 2014), 96 are named after a person, team, or group, and I don’t think the other 4 are very encouraging (Action Comics, Detective Comics, Original Sin, and Secret Origins).

    If your character’s name is not very title-friendly (e.g. Captain Amazing), you have a few options. The most appealing one in your case would probably be renaming the character or using a group name instead.

    Alternately, if a character’s name by itself does not make for a great title, you could use a modifier (e.g. Robo -> Atomic Robo) or refer to the character as something besides his name (e.g. Gary Smith -> The Taxman Must Die).

  11. TitleManon 06 Jun 2014 at 9:48 am

    Well, I’m writing a webcomic. I do want to get it in print someday though. Does that change anything?

  12. B. McKenzieon 06 Jun 2014 at 7:38 pm

    “Well, I’m writing a webcomic.” I have zero experience with webcomics, and I don’t know much about yours besides that it probably is about superheroes. Could you tell me more about the plot, the most important characters, and tone of your work?

  13. Phoenixon 08 Jun 2014 at 2:15 pm

    I was able to enjoy the film, though I did have issues and questions. Granted, I think the “Different Destinations” episode of Farscape handled time-shuffling much better. My issues, I was told, were more nitpicky, but I’m going to share them anyway. We experienced the fall of Saigon in 1975, not 1973, so I suppose putting superhumans into the mix did make a difference.

    I’d love to know what technical modifications Quicksilver made to his music player to get it to play so fast that it sounded normal to him at superspeed. I’d love to know when he started disregarding inertia. I never thought that was part of his mutation.

    I know characters making bad decisions is supposed to be one of the foundation stones of interesting fiction, but I expected far more from characters who are supposed to be as intelligent as these. I set myself up for it, I guess, thinking that Magneto might try a Syndrome move and save the people from Trask’s “out of control” sentinels, thus building a bridge across the generation gap and forestall the decision to wage war against the future and the children of the human race.

    That’s one of the greater enduring fallacies perpetrated in these stories. Trask’s reading from Prof X’s thesis about Cro-Magnon eradication of Neandertal the day after they met is ridiculous. We’ll blame it on the short-sighted past. Even so, that’s a meeting of two separate branches of man. Cro-Magnon are not the children of Neandertal. The descendants of Cro-Magnon walk now and the mutants are born of them. I like to think that there would be more vocal opposition to hunting down people’s children and grandchildren because they have pointy ears or disturbing abilities. Pre-crime condemnation is always such a complicated area.

    Still, I thought Magneto or Mystique would have more sense than to believe drawing a line in the sand before the paranoid leadership of the military-industrial complex would be a step toward peaceful relations. If there were greater doubt of Wolverine’s intel, then conflict over making wise choices might make more sense.

    Wolverine, btw, isn’t usually considered a serial killer as his victims typically fall in conflict rather than as a result of predation. The character’s guidelines are supposed to have him meet non-lethal challenges with commensurate response; he doesn’t bring claws into play against mundanes, especially in simple brawls, unless they up the ante with knives or guns first.

    I get the impression that the time-shuffling was a lot for some people, but part of that confusion probably comes from adapting a thirty-year-old comics storyline to film. Shifting from decades in the future to decades in the past (a time much of the audience didn’t live through and barely thinks about), left some asking questions like “why wasn’t the single blood sample enough?” when Trask wanted more Mystique. A lot of people don’t realize how much our tech has progressed in the last ten years and how different things were forty years ago, even in comic book world. Granted, the comic universes have long-been the playground of conjectural technologies and outright mad science, so some confusion is to be expected.

  14. B. McKenzieon 08 Jun 2014 at 8:44 pm

    “Wolverine, btw, isn’t usually considered a serial killer as his victims typically fall in conflict rather than as a result of predation. The character’s guidelines are supposed to have him meet non-lethal challenges with commensurate response; he doesn’t bring claws into play against mundanes, especially in simple brawls, unless they up the ante with knives or guns first.” My interpretation is that he works especially hard to be lethal even when it’s idiotic and completely unnecessary (e.g. killing the three mob guys even though they posed zero threat… he could easily have either knocked them out or left the scene without fighting). Also, if you’re going to kill someone completely unnecessarily, doing it in front of your girl-of-the-hour is especially callous. Lastly, randomly killing people while time-traveling is notably non-intelligent.

    “If there were greater doubt of Wolverine’s intel, then conflict over making wise choices might make more sense.” Ah, this is a good point. Perhaps it would have been helpful if the person they had sent back in time (whether Wolverine or someone else) had a history of unreliability and/or dishonesty. Given that Wolverine works for Magneto’s main competitor (Xavier), it would be plausible to make Magneto distrust Wolverine’s message and/or motive. Also, the only person in the past that knows for sure that Wolverine is telling the truth about being from the future is Xavier, and obviously Magneto has reason to distrust him.

    “We experienced the fall of Saigon in 1975, not 1973, so I suppose putting superhumans into the mix did make a difference.” In real life, I believe that the Paris Peace Accords were signed in 1973 and that South Vietnam continued fighting until the fall of Saigon in 1975.

  15. kevin rolfeon 01 Jul 2014 at 12:43 am

    My problem with the film was the method of time travel. Mental projection. This did not work for me at all. Spoilt the whole film.
    If all he was doing was observing, then fine, that works but for interaction and alteration of the time line, then that didn’t work. Physically sending someone back would have been better.

    I left the cinema 3/4 of the way through the film because I simply could not get past the illogical method of time travel. I caught the last bit much later. It is not as good as First Class or winter solider.

    And don’t even get me started on spiderman 4 or 5

  16. B. McKenzieon 01 Jul 2014 at 6:59 am

    One aspect I liked about the method of time travel was that it kept the story somewhat connected to what was happening in the future (e.g. if the sentinels came in and killed everybody, it would have still killed Wolverine in the past because his body was in the future). That said, I think that would have worked more effectively if there had been anything else in the future worth caring about besides the prospect of sentinels coming in and killing Wolverine. For example, I think it would have helped if future Magneto, future Storm, and possibly future Xavier had actually done something to justify their inclusion in the movie. (I suspect that Magneto and Storm were included more for contractual and/or marketing reasons than for creative ones).

  17. B. McKenzieon 02 Jul 2015 at 4:27 pm

    “I left the cinema 3/4 of the way through the film because I simply could not get past the illogical method of time travel.” Have you seen the scene in Superman 1 where he goes back in time by flying counterclockwise around the world really fast? Yeah, they actually put that in.

    Personally, I think mind-based time travel feels a bit less outlandish than, say, using a Delorean or a phone booth.

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