Several years ago, X3, the third installment of the X-men series, was kind of a disappointment. The first two movies weren’t exactly grand either, but that third movie felt like a dud and a poor ending to the trilogy. The next couple of Wolverine movies didn’t improve things and brought in some bizarre inconsistencies (yeah, I guess Wolverine got a stupid amnesia bullet, but why the heck does Sabretooth not seem to recognize his bro in the first movie?). Before this last Wolverine movie, there was a somewhat promising reboot in X-Men: First Class… except it wasn’t a reboot but a prequel that brought in so many plot inconsistencies that entire articles have been written on it. I’m not talking about small inconsistencies that only nitpicky jerks like me harp on; I’m talking about glaring contradictions that a five year old would rightly wonder about. I won’t rehash all of them here, but suffice it to say, the problems are so bad that one questions if the writers of each X-men movie bothered to even watch the other ones. Even Bryan Singer sheepishly just said that he hoped people would just forget about the contradictions and simply enjoy the new movie.
First Class’ mistake of trying to be an inconsistent prequel snowballed into the most recent X-men movie, X-men: Days of Future Past. The story tries to link First Class with the other movies by centering around time travel, or more specifically, consciousness time traveling by Wolverine. As with any movie that involves time travel, the story can have a million bullet holes blown through it to go along with the contradictions that they had already introduced in their previous movies. With all of that in mind, it is especially difficult to enjoy the movie from a plot perspective. Granted, it’s just an X-men film, so nobody goes into the theater expecting an awesome story, but such mistakes can grow to the point that it makes it hard for the audience to suspend judgment and just watch.
That said, if you know all of this going in, you can still enjoy the film as a typical summer blockbuster: Good effects, some decent action, some cool mutant stuff, etc. Quicksilver had by far the most impressive action scenes, and though even Marvel fans know that his powers are puny compared to The Flash, I’m sure DC is not happy that Marvel/Sony got their famous speedster on the big screen before they did such that any future Flash scenes may be viewed as derivative. Some actors turn in some good performances, such as Patrick Stewart as old Professor X, and it was somewhat cool to see all of the old X-men actors return for roles or small cameos. For many, this is the best X-men movie yet made, and they may be correct. However, since none of the movies so far have been all that special, that is hardly a high honor. It’s decent enough to watch in the theater with your friends, but don’t expect to be blown away.
SPOILERS IN THE FOLLOWING
I’m not going to list a bunch of plot problems like I often do for superhero movies; instead, I’ll write my own script that highlights some of them and shows how much easier things could have gone for our beleaguered mutant friends.
Scene: Xavier explains to Kitty that they need to go back decades to change the past.
Xavier: “Kitty, you’ve shown the power to send people’s minds back a few days or weeks to avoid these big bad Sentinels, but we need to go back to where this all started: 1973. That’s when Raven, my beloved adopted sister whom I never talked to and who deliberately poisoned Cerebro to harm me when we fought them twenty or so years ago, killed someone important and set this course. She then became ‘Mystique.’ She was also captured and they used her DNA to develop technology to make the Sentinels adapt to any mutant power, which is why they are pwning us.”
Kitty: “Man, going back decades is hard… wait a second. Mystique can change her appearance and has an accelerated healing factor and all that, but she can’t actually mimic mutant powers. Like if she turned into me, she’d still break her nose if she tried to run through a brick wall. How the heck do her powers help machines gain random mutant abilities? How does something purely biological help them change form?”
Xavier: “Well, you know, science and stuff. Even though she can’t do it, I guess they found a way to apply her molecular-changeling ability to metal, like Transfo… uh, and gain mutant powers.”
Kitty: “Metal? So can’t Magneto here just utterly destroy every Sentinel?”
Xavier: “Did I say metal? I meant some… space polymer that’s super strong.”
Kitty: “Don’t they still use electricity? How do they conduct electricity without metal wires? Can’t Magneto control them?”
Magneto: “Hey… they use electricity. Just accept it. And I can’t control them.”
Kitty: “Maybe you can gain control of them by interfacing with them with metal wires… that, I don’t know, you make out of railroad tracks.”
Magneto: “HAHAHAHA! Don’t be ridiculous, girl. That’s the stupidest thing I’ve heard in a long time.”
Xavier: “Kitty… maybe they are biological machines with neural networks like us.”
Kitty: “Doesn’t that mean you can control them with telepathy?”
Awkward pause. Xavier stares, speechless.
Magneto: “Girl, shut up. Science made it happen. They worked on this technology for fifty years so I guess they figured out something.”
Kitty: “If prototypes were already being worked on so long ago, how exactly did the US not steamroll through the Vietnam war?”
Xavier: “Kitty, shhhh. Shhhhhhhhh. Stop asking questions that no one can answer. Just send me back to 1973.”
Kitty: “Okay fine… but in any case, I can’t send you back that far because your mind would be ripped apart.”
Wolverine: (raises hand) “I can take it!”
Xavier: “Okay, then you go. I was a very different man back in 1973 and didn’t have my powers because I was depressed and was addicted to a power-stealing drug that at least allowed me to walk. You’ll have to convince me within a couple of days to go after Mystique.”
Magneto: “And I was in a maximum security prison underneath the Pentagon.”
Wolverine: “That sounds like a lot of work for a few days. Why don’t we go back to the good ol’ days and just destroy the Sentinel program and all of its research? I mean, it was still going on twenty years go but hadn’t come to fruition. Then the older professor, who is way more mature, can just read my mind and believe me. Also, I can prevent Jean and Scott from being killed while I’m at it.”
Magneto: “Well, we don’t want the program to ever begin…”
Wolverine: “Does that matter if we completely obliterate the research? I bet you just don’t want me to go back, knowing all of your stupid evil plans and stopping you.”
Xavier: “That’s enough. I agree, we don’t want the regular humans to ever think they need a program like that, so let’s go to 1973…”
Wolverine: “Well, since I can be sent back to virtually anytime I’ve been alive, which is since the 1800’s, why not go earlier then? To like the 60’s, when you and Magneto were still buds, you weren’t a depressed mess, you could still walk without drugs, and you and Mystique were still brother and sister. Couldn’t I just tell everyone what will happen so that you all don’t do all the dumb things that lead us here?”
Kitty: “Didn’t you tell me, Professor, that you and Magneto were still friends and visited Jean Grey together in the 80’s? How does that make sense…”
Xavier: (uses powers on Kitty to make her shut up) “You are being annoying, Kitty. Anyway, Logan, I… (blinks, dumbfounded) Uh… Erik? What do you think?”
Magneto: “That actually makes a ton of sense. And remember we already met Wolverine back then in a bar and he told us to go eff ourselves? If we send his consciousness back then, he can tell us everything while we were still great friends.”
Wolverine: “Wait, what?! You guys met me before? Dang amnesia. Why the heck did you guys act like you never met me when I first got picked up by the X-men?”
Magneto: (shrugs) “I was just pretending because I was still sore that you told me to go eff myself.”
Wolverine: “And you guys just gave up after I said that? Like, you didn’t even try to have a conversation with me?”
Xavier: “We were busy recruiting at strip clubs and… you know what, it’s not important. We’ll send you back then, so don’t tell us to go eff ourselves again.”
Wolverine: “Fine, whatever.”
Xavier: (releases Kitty) “Kitty? It’s time. Send Logan back to 1963…”
Kitty: (muttering to herself) “I almost don’t mind the Sentinels getting us now…”
Scene: 1963, in a bar. Charles and Erik approach Logan.
Xavier: “Hey, my name is Charles Xavier, and this is Erik. We want to talk to you…”
Wolverine: “Go eff yourselves.”
(Erik and Charles shrug and begin to walk off)
Wolverine: “Hey! Just kidding. And seriously, that’s all the effort you gave? Whatever. I have some things to tell you because I’m from the future.”
Magneto: “You must be joking.”
Xavier: (mind reads) “Nope, he’s not.” (continues scanning Logan’s mind)
Wolverine: “So… um, you guys can’t be stupid and start fighting each other and screwing up Raven’s mind.”
Xavier: “Yikes, I see what happens. All mutants get wiped out because of mutant aggression.”
Magneto: “Really? Sigh. Fine. Let’s make a pact here: When we defeat Sebastian Shaw, we will not part ways and I won’t go crazy on the humans.”
Wolverine: “Well… I guess that’s that.”
Scene: Logan wakes up in his bed in the future. Sees that everything is great.
Wolverine: “That was easy. I don’t know why we didn’t try this to save Jean and Scott right when they died; heck, Jean probably could have wrecked all the Sentinels by herself.”