or kind of a theme. Tons of miscasted actors in costumes with names of characters who were popular but devoid of characterization. I remember reading an article before the film came out saying that the direction was taking a lot of cues from The Matrix. The turn of the millennium was a different time. Remember, back then The Matrix was a huge hit with a cultural impact. So I can't blame them at the time for copying what was hot. Look at the poster for X-Men:
Sleek look, black leather everywhere, those aren't exactly essentially Matrix and this post isn't even about X-Men (2000). So lets get back on track. Days of Future Past is the follow up to the prequel/reboot First Class (which I thought was masterful). Despite being a significant financial hit despite lacking real starpower, someone made the decision to replace First Class director Matthew Vaughn with director of X-Men (2000) and X2 Bryan Singer. We also will have the return of the older cast from X-Men as well.
Perhaps people were clamoring were for the return of the older cast but I can't be sure about that. What we got was a very very good movie. But it wasnt great and this film had the real potential to be AWESOME!!!!1!!one! with only minor changes. And I place the blame for all of the choices in these areas firmly on Bryan Singer's shoulders (mostly because I dont really like him). We won't even talk about the ridiculous design of the Sentinels (much).
Here is what is on the ticket today as far as what held this bad boy back:
- Who is really the Villain?
- Why is Wolverine the protagonist?
- Who are these people/Why are you in the movie?
- Are there any characters that were introduced by Bryan Singer (and lets throw in Brett Ratner who directed X3) that had any depth or character?
1. I will ask you who the villain of this movie? The Sentinels? Trask? Nixon? Magneto? Mystique? DoFP is a difficult story because I guess the real antagonist is the onset of the "bad ending" happening. So why even introduce Trask? What did he add to the film besides being able to say "hey look its Peter Dinklage" in the film. He is largely a non factor in the film. He has one odd monologue about envying mutantkind or something to explain is motivation but hes a pointless character who adds nothing to the plot of the film.
If you say its the Sentinels, yeah I guess so but they are just a group of machines. You can probably say Mystique is the antagonist pretty easily but she isn't really aware of what she is inadvertently going to cause. This is a race against time story, which is fine, but why even include this "villain lite" with a lame attempt at making a non-player into a player. A wasted opportunity and a wast of time.
2. Why Wolverine? Probably because Wolverine is super popular. Which is a factor in the great success of this film. But why make him the one you send back in time. No, I am not making a purist "it should have been Kitty Pryde" though I do like me some Shadowcat. Actually, from a writing standpoint the choice they made seems (to me) to be the least entertaining and useful option. They set the rules for timetravel. Think about that, there are no set rules for time travel. This is not a hard science like in a hard sci fi movie you can't do X because X is impossible by currently scientific understanding. Time travel is fantasy and you set the rules everytime you engage in it. They set up that you must have been alive at the time because they are sending their consciousness back. They also set up the completely superfluous rule that the process would destroy you so you need someone who can withstand the punishment. Cue the lame Wolverine "hey bro I can heal so send me."
Lets pause here and go to Wolverine in the movie.
Bystander. Onlooker. Side character. For some reason he doesn't know what was going down in the 70s so he CANNOT be an actor. He is just there to link the characters with real drama. Why do this? Bro, Wolverine was alive in the 70s. Why wouldnt he know what happened? The 70s happened, why wouldnt he know what happened? This is something you control. You use any number of mechanics if you so feel the need to force Wolverine as your protagonist. Why make him functionally impotent?
Try this on for size the world's greatest telepath says "Logan, your memories of the 70s have been wiped. I will telepathically implant you with my account of the 70s. This will allow you to access information that you might not have had even at the time.
"Logan, its a good thing we went to the black ops site and found that dude who gave you your memory back (as a kind of nod to the House of M storyline where he came out of it with full recall of his past"
Or even better, send any other character back , remove that requirement about it being a destructive process and have them link up with a cogent, active, but initially reluctant Wolverine yet fully aware of what is going on in the 1970s. With any of these options, you dont have those scenes where Wolverine is sitting in the back of the room, pulling a T-Dog, doing nothing of importance.
This could have been a cool opportunity to use the elder Storm as the sendee and when she wakes up, use a different new actress (I could suggest the hot off of Scandal Kerry Washington) and actually use Storm in a meaningful way.
Of course, there is the final fight where it think Wolverine is about to get himself some action and he gets flung literally and figuratively out of the story. Complete waste of a character.
3. Who are these people/Why are you in the movie? The extras in the future, Trask, the mutants in Vietnam, Colonel Stryker. None of these people have any kind of character. You are expected as a viewer to either bringing in prior knowledge/affection for the characters or latch onto these characters without any history, characterization, or in some cases dialogue.
My favorite example of this storytelling shortcoming is when someone is talking to Professor X in the future about how much they hoped Wolverine would succeed. Professor X delivers a great line about how they wont know because by them sending him back they have changed the time stream. Which is an interesting point to make. But if that is the case, why do I care what happens to the future. Its already been eliminated and these characters will not exist. How much tension can there be in any scene in the future? I know, you have to keep the process going or else maybe the heroes won't complete their mission. Fair, but really it felt like an excuse to use more special effects to pad out the film with those action scenes in the future. Kind of a waste. None of those characters other than the 3 or 4 who we knew from other films have any characterization.
4. Are there any characters that were introduced by Bryan Singer (and lets throw in Brett Ratner who directed X3) that had any depth or character?
I think the answer is no. Storm, Blink, Colossus, Wolverine, Trask, Guyrich, Quicksilver, Nixon, Stryker, the Vietnam mutants, Shadowcat, Bishop, Storm, ETC. Some of these characters barely spoke.
Lets recap. Imagine this film with either a superfluous villain being removed or a legit villain, either an active Wolverine by being in command of his memory or being the guide for the protagonist, and fleshed out or removed supplemental characters.
You probably end up with something that is even better than what you had before. What is troublesome is that going forward this movie removed alot of the characters from First Class that actually had tension. What will the next film look like if we dont have the players to tell the Apocalypse story well. Apocalypse has to speak, have motivation, character, and menace. We saw Angel in the 3rd film and again he wasnt really a character. Will Bryan Singer feel the need to force in the Angel we already saw and didnt feel anything for.
Hopefully we wont, because the single best past of this movie is that is literally wipes out the original X series. None of that unimportant problematic trilogy exists anymore. Clearly I want Matthew Vaughn back but you have a chance even with Singer to tell stories that have tension and maybe even a compelling vision.
Doubtful, but one can hope for some good movies at least.