X-Men: Days of Future Past
Though I have never been a President Nixon fan, I didn’t know that he nearly led the world into annihilation. I thought the 30,000 American boys who died under him in Vietnam was tragedy enough.
With X-Men: Days of Future Past, Director Bryan Singer has brought us a film that will both tantalize and entertain. It has an unexpected historical significance wrapped around brilliant cinematography by Newton Thomas Sigel. The film editing, by John Ottman, causes all moments of action to fit like a glove, while the music by the same Mr. Ottman reflects the angst of the film itself at all times.
X-Men: Days of Future Past tells two interrelated stories. The first begins in the future where mankind is being destroyed by powerful droids that seek to eliminate all mutants. Our heroes are dying, and they are holed-up in a mountain fortress facing doom. Their only chance to survive is to send Logan/Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) into the past to try to stop one of their own from mistakenly contributing to their future demise.
The past is actually 1973, and revolves around President Nixon and his attempt to accept defeat in Vietnam while claiming victory. Mark Camacho is spot on as Tricky Dick, and emulates the performance of Jack Holmes as Bobby Kennedy in Cesar Chavez.
The story focuses on a demented scientist played by the talented Peter Dinklage, a man trying to convince the President to finance the development of droids known as Sentinels that will allegedly only try to eliminate those in society who are different, namely mutants. I was in law school in 1973, and the film hit a nerve that brought back a nightmare. Because of the Vietnam War, mutants known as anti-war protestors were hunted down by the federal government using the slogan, “America, Love It or Leave It.” Our response, “Hell no, we won’t go!”;
The new X-Men: Days of Future Past vacillates between the angst surrounding 1973 and the horror of the future. New mutant characters appear, and they all have significant roles. On top of that, you see the elderly Charles Xavier and Magneto as both young and old men. The movie is at its best as you watch Patrick Stewart and James McAvoy play Charles Xavier and Ian McKellen and Matthew Fassbender playing Magneto/Erik Lehnsherr. Two old men are hoping that Wolverine can go into the past and convince their younger selves to join him in a quest to literally save mankind.
You will never see a film with such a large cast of tremendous actors. Ellen Page plays Kitty Pryde, a young woman with the power to send Wolverine back in time. Halle Berry is again the beautiful Storm, willing to offer her life to save a few survivors.
There are many more, but let me just recognize Bingbing Fan as Blink and Booboo Stewart as Warpath. They both are young actors with a great deal of piss and vinegar, and I can’t help but imagine them getting married in real life where the minister begins, “Do you, Bingbing, take Booboo, as your mutant husband?”;
However, as good as the entire cast is, the film belongs to the immensely talented Jennifer Lawrence as Raven/Mystique. Wolverine attempts to lead his reluctant mutant allies to stop her from killing Dinklage and release a destructive and unanticipated scientific force, though she is a tough woman to convince. Able to morph into any physical presence, she is the sexiest blue-skinned woman with reddish hair that will ever appear on the screen.
Ms. Lawrence’s performances transcend meaningful description. From Silver Linings Playbook (2012) to The Hunger Games (2012) to American Hustle (2013), she performs at a level belonging only to her. The only meaningful comparison I can make is to the legendary Greer Garson, who was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar in five consecutive years beginning in 1941, winning her one award in 1942 for the memorable Mrs. Miniver. Ms. Garson has finally found her equal.
Without giving away the ending, make sure you stay for the final scene. Wolverine will be haunted through the ages having lost the love of his life, Jean Grey, in a prior film. Played by Famke Janssen, she suddenly makes an appearance when Wolverine returns to the future, and you are left wondering if his efforts found a way to save her?
Somehow I think that there is another intriguing film down the road to answer that question.