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Movie Reviews

Plugged In Rating
Content Caution
MPAA Rating
Credits
Genre
Drama, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Action/Adventure
Cast
Hugh Jackman as Logan/Wolverine; James McAvoy as Charles Xavier; Michael Fassbender as Erik Lehnsherr; Jennifer Lawrence as Raven/Mystique; Halle Berry as Storm; Anna Paquin as Rogue; Ellen Page as Kitty Pryde; Ian McKellen as Magneto; Patrick Stewart as Professor X
Director
Bryan Singer (Jack the Giant Slayer, Valkyrie, Superman Returns, X2: X-Men United, X-Men)
Distributor
20th Century Fox
In Theaters
May 23, 2014
Reviewer
Bob Hoose
X-Men: Days of Future Past

X-Men: Days of Future Past

In the future, things are bleak. But in the past, there may be hope.

After many years of human/mutant war, millions have died and the world is a wreck. In this deadly time, an aged Professor Xavier, Magneto, Wolverine and just a handful of others are the few mutants still breathing. And that thread-thin survival is only accomplished through a regular, skillful integration of all their powers, a ballet of battle and subterfuge that keeps them barely hidden away from rampaging robotic entities called Sentinels.

These unfeeling mutant-killers were created and sent out by the world's governments to eliminate the mutant threat. And they have the ability to adapt their form to resist any superpower thrown at them. They're not indestructible, but if enough of them hit an area together … a lot of mutants die.

The mutants' last play, then, is with Kitty Pryde. Her powers include the curious ability to transport a person's consciousness through time. It's a dangerous and painful journey that would tear most minds apart. Fortunately, Logan, aka Wolverine, has the superhuman powers of bodily regeneration. And that's just the stuff needed to make the trip.

The trip where? Or, better yet, when? Why back to 1973 so Logan's younger self can figure out a way to stop those deadly robots from ever being dreamed up. It won't be an easy task. Wolverine needs to somehow rally the scattered and distrustful mutants of that early day, stop the shapeshifter Mystique from committing a misguided murder and set society as a whole on a better path.

It's a grand cause and a huge challenge. But there's an even bigger problem in the mix. While the younger Logan is scurrying about in the past, his older self is lying unconscious and vulnerable in the future. He's being sustained and protected by his surviving mutant friends. But if the all-powerful Sentinels home in on their hiding place, well, all bets are off and all hope dissipates into the vacuum of deep time.

Positive Elements

Professor X and Magneto agree that the battles they've seen have come at far too high a price. And the professor says, "We can show them a better path," expressing the movie's central theme and his devoted belief that the honorable deeds of a few can alter the hearts and minds of many, creating a better future for everyone.

To that end, Wolverine and the younger Charles Xavier both put their lives on the line. And several mutants in the future actually die in hopes of producing a better outcome.

Xavier's beliefs are ultimately proven to be true. And even some of the worst events of other X-Men films are reversed because of the self-sacrificial actions of his dedicated comrades.

Spiritual Content

In a bonus scene after the credits, a large group of humans bow down and worship a mutant as a god.

Sexual Content

When Logan awakes in his younger body in 1973 he's in bed with a woman clad only in bra and panties. And he is totally naked; we see him from the rear as he rises and walks to pick up his pants.

The usually blue shape-shifting Mystique (aka Raven) is near-naked when in her natural form. Through athletically flexible flipping and tumbling battles, the camera closely observes her full-figured movements. Though her most private parts are hidden, the actress's latex and body paint makeup provides little actual coverage. The flesh-colored Raven wears a midriff-baring shirt.

Violent Content

In the future we see evidence of the great battles that have brought civilization to its knees. Skyscrapers are crumbling, rubble is strewn everywhere and corpses tumble out of a container into a burial pit.

We witness the devastating power of the Sentinels as they viciously attack mutant prey. Bodies are impaled by the robots' arm-like appendages, burned, blasted and otherwise killed. The metallic Colossus is torn in two and tossed aside. The Iceman has his frozen head brutally ripped off his body and crushed beneath a robot's foot. The power-absorbing Bishop is blasted from three sides until he eventually blows up.

Pictures reveal mutants who have been tortured, operated on and sewn back together in Mengele-like experiments conducted by a scientist named Dr. Trask. Later, Trask is killed, execution style, with a bullet to the forehead. Wolverine has his chest riddled with bullets (leaving holes that then seal back up). In turn, he impales his attackers with bone (pre-adamantium Wolverine) claws. He also hammers several human guards with a frying pan. Mystique subdues a guy by pinning him to the wall with her foot to his throat. Indeed, through a variety of mutant-vs.-human fights, men are battered about with everything from hard-knuckled fists to floating metal balls, bones breaking and faces getting pounded.

There are also mutant-on-mutant melees. The blue beast known as Hank tosses Wolverine around in one scene, and pummels and tries to drown Magneto in another. Magneto rips a large quantity of rebar out of a crumbled building and jams the metal bars in and through Wolverine. The magnetized mutant also levitates a needle to sew up a cut on the back of his own head.

Mystique is shot in the leg. (We see the bleeding wound up close.) She jumps out a high window and tries to hobble away, but Magneto drags her back to him by attracting that metal bullet in her calf until it pops back out of the puncture. Magneto is shot in the neck by a non-metal bullet, leaving a bloody wound behind.

Crude or Profane Language

One f-word. A half-dozen s-words. A small handful each of "h‑‑‑," "d‑‑n" and "a‑‑hole." God's name is combined with "d‑‑n" once. Somebody uses "bloody" as an expletive.

Drug and Alcohol Content

When we first see Professor X's younger self, he's quite depressed about his lot in life and drinking heavily; he appears drunk in one scene. Erik joins him for a glass of booze while they play chess. A party full of military officials features lots of alcohol and inebriated behavior.

Professor X also injects himself with a drug developed by Dr. Hank McCoy that gives him the use of his legs while simultaneously removing his mutant abilities. Hank reports that Xavier has been overusing the drug, and it appears that he's addicted to the stuff.

Logan lights up a cigar on a couple of occasions.

Other Negative Elements

Quicksilver's basement is littered with stolen merchandise.

Conclusion

Believe it or not, with this latest entry in the franchise we have 14 years of X-Men pics tucked under our cinematic belts. Days of Future Past reunites director Bryan Singer, much of the original cast, and newer characters—from earlier sequels and prequels—for one big hard-driving actioner.

That means it should all feel pretty familiar. And so it does.

This film has the same well-crafted flow of most of its predecessors, the same (often) noble superhero exploits and electrifying spectacle, the same (subtle) plugs for tolerance and human evolution. And it has a recognizable struggle between Professor X and his longtime friend/nemesis Magneto. As their younger selves, the two metaphorically arm wrestle once again over the good and evil in the hearts of men.

This X-Men incarnation, however, also boasts the elusive and curious element of time travel. It's an inclusion that gives the comic-book-based romp an even more sci-fi, Matrix- and Terminator-like feel. With ticking-clock urgency we jump back and forth between the past and the future to see how each alternate world's events unfold and how actions will impact the present. The right choice made long ago, after all, might just erase evil decisions, give the dead new life and change a universe for the better.

It's the sort of stuff that gives us something to chew on in relation to our real-world day-to-day."The future is never truly set," Professor X tells us. And the film's time travel adjustments illustrate how choosing well today can have a rippling positive impact for years to come.

All of that makes for an involving moviehouse experience. But those time travel leaps come packed with problems, too. Certain short-term jumps, for instance, result in characters dying in a variety of ways. Impalements, decapitations and obliterating explosions take certain lives over and over before we reach a more satisfying conclusion. It's all seen in a relatively bloodless superhero style with nothing too, uh, X-treme, but it often feels pretty visceral nonetheless.

Add in full rear male nudity and Mystique's oft-seen blue birthday suit and, well, let's just say the kiddos (and adults too) can get an eyeful of all sorts of things. And, presumably, unlike the X-Men, moviegoers can't go back in time and un-see anything that's come before.

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