The newest installment of the X-Men movie franchise is good, not great. Here are five reasons why.
Let's get something out of the way right up from. Yours truly didn't "hate" X-Men: Days of Future Past. Not by a long shot. Do I have problems with it? Absolutely. Do I think it stands as one of the best installments in Marvel's movie mutant mythos? Sure. Is it the number one film in the franchise? No. That title goes to its predecessor, First Class. Why? Well, I liked Matthew Vaughan's approach more than Bryan Singer's (still unsure of why this hit or miss filmmaker gets so much fanboy love), I've grown tired of the overuse of some characters, and am not sure what I was supposed to get out of the experience except it being a set-up for yet another in a long line of "planned" trilogies. Still, I was entertained, intrigued, and in the end, capable of recommending it to any who still reads film reviews as a reference guide. So, you may be asking, why the caveat? If you liked it, what's the problem?
Well, for me, it's two fold. First, the film currently has a 91% rating over at Rotten Tomatoes, higher than movies I liked a lot better (Godzilla, Captain America: The Winter Soldier)...and the weird thing is, that was more or less the number right out of the box. It seems like, at least two weeks before it opened, XMDOFP was sitting somewhere in the mid 90s, enjoying the raves from those capable of being in the studios good graces (read: trusted to start the early positive buzz) while not opening for us peons until the week of release. By then, the word was already out - this movie was fantastic, when something a bit more complex was the true reality. Oh course, opinions are just that. They're not dicta or dogma and Fox is smart to use its sources to sell its product. Good for them (and those in compliance with them). But I was angry that the conversation was over before the discussion really began.
Then there is the issues I have with the movie itself. It's far from perfect (frankly, no film is) and when I sit back and think about the plotting, the characters, and the overall idea, I start to get flustered. You see, XMDOFP wants to be an epic which draws together divergent takes on the classic comic characters to create a permanence within the X-Men universe. I won't address whether they were successful (there are dozens of website picking apart the continuity as we speak) but I will argue over five things I found truly aggravating. The funny thing is, many of them go to the main reason the movie was made in the first place.
The problem here is a little something called CONTEXT. We get the threat. We don't get why the X-Men are the world's only hope. We do understand that humans who have helped the mutants are equally persecuted, but why set up such a dismal bit of future shock and then more or less abandon it for a far off Chinese monastery. The final confrontation could have remained in the wasteland that once was the UK's biggest city, but instead, we are stuck somewhere in the mountains. Oh, and how about those floating transport obelisks? Gonna explain those? Better yet, aside from utilizing Kitty's suddenly new powers, how have the others survived? These Sentinels are pretty bad ass. It seems silly to believe that the mutants we see up front managed to avoid their hunting skills for so long.
...except not really. No, this is Wolverine's film, because...well...because Hugh Jackman has hung in with this franchise for three previous ensemble films (we don't count his F-bomb in First Class) and two solo outings (with more planned). You can't expect someone like Lawrence to serve as the focal point (it's also the reason that Kitty Pryde - Ellen Page - was not the one sent back in time like she was in the comic book storyline the movie was adapted from). She's a girl, after all (all Katniss Everdeen aside). So big beefy one gets the call, constantly shoe-horned into the action so he serves a purpose other than making the fanboys (and girls) happy. This should have been Mystique's movie alone. It would have been so much better if it was.