Adan Canto, Ellen Page, Shawn Ashmore and Daniel Cudmore star in a scene from the movie "X-Men: Days of Future Past." (CNS photo/Fox)
MPAA Rating, PG-13
USCCB Rating, A-III
Reel Rating: (4 Reels out of 5)
Only a week after Godzilla burst onto the big screen (see CWR review), X-Men: Days of Future Past
unveils another fantastic special effects bonanza that is just as
entertaining and profound, but is better written. (The films currently
are the two top-grossing movies in the country.) This is the seventh X-Men film, and it is, I think, the best of the lot.
plot involves time travel, mutant killing robots, vomit-brown Seventies
costumes, and wisecracks from Wolverine. It is pure, unfiltered
entertainment, with the basic message that it’s never too late to change
for the better. Of course, time travel helps a lot with that.
future is grim for Prof. Charles Xaiver (Patrick Stewart) and his band
of brothers. The year is 2023, and nearly all mutants have been killed
or captured by sentinelsrobots that can adapt to any mutant power.
Fortunately, Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) can someone how use her
intangibility to send a person’s consciousness into their past self.
It’s a bizarre time traveling method but at least it avoids the awkward
problems that faced Marty McFly.
Wolverine (Hugh Jackman)
volunteers to make the trip to 1973 and convince young Charles (James
McAvoy) and young Eric (Michael Fassbender) to put their grievances
aside and fix the future. “I was a different man,” Old Charles tells
him. “Be patient with me.” Wolverine grunts, “Patience isn’t my strong
He wasn’t kidding. The 1970s Charles is a drug addict,
wallowing in self-pity, while Eric is imprisoned in the Pentagon for his
role in the JFK assassination. In the course of events, new characters
are introduced and old favorites reappear; the cast boasts an astounding
eight Oscar-nominated actors among them. The best is Quicksilver (Evan
Peters), a rebellious teenager who uses super speed to rob department
stores and pull pranks. The sequence where he takes out a dozen Pentagon
guards in a millisecond to the tune of “Time in a Bottle” is the best
superhero moment I’ve seen in years. (The only drawback is the plot
assumes quite a bit of knowledge from the previous films, but it stands
alone pretty well too.)
What would you tell your past self? Study
harder? Eat more vegetables? Don’t go out with the pretty redhead in
your algebra class because she’ll break your heart by showing up at the
homecoming dance with someone else even though she said she would go
with you? Age brings wisdom. As (most) people make mistakes, they learn
gradually how to avoid those same mistakes in the future. This why it is
so important for children to have constant contact with their
grandparents and other older relatives, as the experience of years can
teach the young to avoid certain mistakes. In a sense, the elderly
mirror the role of time travel in this film.
hardship also bring wisdom. Suffering can help remove the ability to
rationalize falsehood and focus proper attention on the truth. As Rabbi
Abraham Heschel said, “the man who has not suffered; what could he
possibly know anyway?” The mutants of 2023, having suffered much, don’t
seek revenge or fight among themselves. They have endured years of
genocide and seen its terrible consequences for themselves and all of
humanity. Even Wolverine is more sensitive and docile than in any
previous film. Young Charles and Eric have had their share of suffering
too, but respond by either withdrawing from society or directly
attacking it, a good snapshot of 1970's America. They cannot see how
their selfish actions will lead to the demise of everyone they love. The
older Charles and Eric have seen it and respond with compassion.
the ending of the film approaches, it becomes clear the fate of the
world depends on an act of mercy, not war. The choice faced by both
mutants and humans is whether or not to let go of their hate and work
for a better future. Is it possible? The answer is yes. It is an echo of
the reality of Christ's perfect example. Perfectly righteous as God, he
nonetheless accepted suffering and death, so that through the Cross and
the Resurrection man can have a future in the Kingdom of Heaven.
At its best, X-Men: Days of Future Past
reminds us that while the past is set and cannot be changed, the future
is open, and will be shaped by our choices. Imagine your older self
looking at your past that has not yet happened. What would you change?
Make your future the past you wished you could have had.