‘X-Men: Days Of Future Past’ Movie Review

Patrick Stewart really shouldn’t have ate that Atomic Vindaloo.

The X-Men franchise’s answer to The Avengers is finally here. A sequel to The Last Stand, 60’s based reboot/prequel First Class and The Wolverine, Days of Future Past‘s biggest achievement is not crashing under the weight of this ambition, and the immense hype build-up. Whilst not without its flaws, there is a lot to enjoy here.

The plot follows the original trilogy X-Men in a dark future cornered by Sentinels: robot predators designed to hunt mutants by constantly adapting to their powers. With no other choice, Wolverine is sent back in time to the root of the problem: the assassination of Sentinel creator Bolivar Trask by Mystique. To do so, Logan needs to re-connect with what remains of the X-Men following the fallout of First Class. It sounds Terminator-esque, and the horrible future looks strikingly similar, but actually its more like Cameron’s films borrowed many of their elements from the 80’s X-Men classic comic book storyline of the same name as this film. Funny how things come full circle. It’s not too difficult to follow the story, a credit to the film which does jump between eras a fair bit, and there’s plenty of action, humour and emotional moments packed in.

Who is the guy with the yellow stripes? Yeah, you don’t need to know.

My main issue with this film is the divide between eras. The future scenes got some incredible action, with visceral destruction inflicted on both sides and great use of camerawork and effects with Blink’s powers that reminded me of the wonderful game Portal. However, the new characters and original trilogy favourites are (re)introduced so quickly, with a lot of their dialogue just being exposition or battle tactics, it’s hard to care for them as much as we should. Lots of scenes with recurring stars have been cut, and I for one really hope a DVD/Blu-Ray release gives us a lot more of the future X-Men (also, the nerd in me wants a proper spoken explanation for Xavier’s return, Kitty’s new powers and his re-alliance with Magneto).

The strongest scenes are the ones set in the 70’s, which are luckily the majority of the film. Jackman, McAvoy, Fassbender and Lawrence are fantastic, getting way more to do than everyone else. Except for these four and Nick Hoult’s Beast, the rest of the First Class cast don’t even reappear, except for Havok (Lucas Till) in literally one scene. We do get a smattering of new 70’s characters, namely Quicksilver and Trask, played by the mighty Peter Dinklage. One gets the best scenes in the film, the other is played by the mighty Peter Dinklage.

One of the most emotional scenes in the film, sadly ruined by putting it all in the trailer.

At just over two hours and with so much to pack in, X-Men: Days Of Future Past does hold up very well. Overall however, its streamlined approach left me wanting more. I’m not sure if that means an extended version down the line is the answer, or Fox should’ve jumped into the two-parter bandwagon. Nothing sends tingles my spine like a big finale, or that moment when all the pieces finally slot together: take for example Avengers, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2 and the Doctor Who series 4 finale where all the companions from the Russell T. Davies era all joined up perfectly. With more breathing room, Days of Future Past really could’ve reached that level. The way it stands now, the seventh X-Men just falls short, but provides much excitement and a good send off to the original trilogy that kick-started the modern superhero blockbuster.

I’m really dying to talk about this in most spolierific detail, so if anyone wants to then send me a tweet @josefanderton and maybe we can start a DM conversation or something. Also, if you want to read my defending of X-Men: The Last Stand (which ironically, shares a lot of problems with this film) then you can read that here.


A ‘thing’ about nostalgia

My geeky interests extend far beyond music and silly reality shows, and I’m going to conquer a few birds with one stone in this post. Though, I will talk about music in this post anyway, because.

Yesterday, FUNimation put a trailer up advertising another new DragonBall Z box set, this is it:

What this is is a collection of the first 53 episodes in their original, heavily edited dub produced by FUNimation using the Ocean voice group and music from Saban (the Power Rangers people), so basically back when they had to outsource these sorts of things. Following these 53 Episodes FUNi (as they’re casually known) did the rest of the series – and the movies, and the prequel and sequel series’- with their own in-house voice talent and composers. Because of the co-operative production, it took until about 2005 for FUNi to be able to go back and re-dub these first two seasons uncut to create consistency. They heavily marketed their re-dubs as being far superior, and with their ‘orange brick’ series of box sets, FUNimation had FINALLY created a consistent release of a show faced with an incredibly convoluted dubbing history. So the question is… why?

Just look at how its being marketed. They’ve run with the ‘Over 9000’ internet meme joke before, but this is the dub where it sprang from. It’s also the dub that gave us the infamous ‘Rock the Dragon’ theme and THAT is the selling point. It’s even the boxset’s name! The trailer is telling us these are the “original TOONAMI broadcasts”  and to “Rock the Dragon like its 1996!”. There are classic Peter Cullen commerical voiceover clips inserted. The VCR effects of the editing just add to the fact:

Nineties nostalgia is in right now.

And FUNimation know it. They are ignoring their previous efforts to create consistency and appealing to the fans who started watching DBZ during its original broadcast, who remembers the themes and the memes (rhyme) and want the cheesiness of it all. These episodes are probably not going to be remastered and have great video quality, and probably won’t contain the Japanese version either (maybe the movies, which were uncut). It’s the total antithesis of their previous strategy to give fans complete packages of remastered video, the original Japanese version, uncut, English voices with US music and English voices with Japanese music in cheap, affordable sets.

It’s also not like these episodes in this form haven’t been released before. Pioneer released all of this before in individual DVDs that have now gone out of print. FUNimation clearly must’ve had the rights for these versions returned to them and thought they might as well make an easy bit of cash off them. And they might as well, it seems a lot of tenties (as I officially call it) pop culture seems to be defined by nineties revivals. Let’s have a look at some examples.

  • Transformers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Although the animated series started in the 80s they were still on heavy repeat during the 90s and I fondly remember them still being popular. We’ve got a fourth Transformers and a new Ninja Turtles coming our way soon, ‘thanks’ to Michael Bay.
  • In 2010, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was re-broadcast with a new opening and comic book-y special effects added. When they finally made new episodes, called Power Rangers Samurai the original ‘Go Go Power Rangers’ theme was kept and remixed, and they brought back Bulk to appeal to old fans. There’s a big anniversary reunion episode coming up, although this happened in the Japanese version too so its not just an American pop culture thing.
  • Spyro was used to launch Skylanders. It wasn’t pretty.
  • In the UK, we’ve had a wave of nineties and early noughties music revivals. Take That did it in 2006 but recently we’ve had the Steps Reunion and The Big Reunion. These were tours and documentary series’ chock-full of nostalgia, tears, cheese and more tears. I loved every minute of it. OK, maybe not Kerry Katona’s singing.
  • This. 
  • Maybe a more clutching at straws example, but the three Final Fantasy titles on the original PlayStation still rank in the Top Ten PSone Classics list on the online stores worldwide. Those whole lists are nineties-tastic but these in particular are often highlighted as games people want to see remade the most, especially by me. Square Enix have been putting their older games onto the iOS and Google Play stores recently, with Final Fantasy V getting a brand new lick of paint. Next up, and highly anticipated is 1994’s Final Fantasy VI. 
  • One of the most popular nights in Cardiff (and admittedly my favourite) is called Cheesefest. You can guess the kind of music it plays.
  • Digimon and X-Men: The Animated Series have FINALLY got proper DVD releases!

I’ve sure there are loads more examples I’ve missed, but its clear us nineties kids who want to relive our childhoods are definitely being thought of by people who want our money. For me personally, if SONY wanted me to buy their underperforming PlayStation Vita handheld then they had better buy back the rights to Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon and get some of their smaller teams to start work on new games. Think about how good it’d be! Anything I’ve missed or ideas please pop in the comments below and remember, “life in plastic, its fantastic”.