I did my research. Sure, I’d seen the various X Men films as were released over the past thirteen years, but I was interested to see how the franchise was holding up. So I watched the six previous installments in preparation for this latest release. No kidding, X Men: Days of Future Past is the best one yet.
The film opens on a dark future, the X Men equivalent of the holocaust with mutants being rounded up alongside their supporters and shuffled into killing chambers. It’s shades of Terminator 2 through the resistance has much more entertaining firepower. The surviving X Men are dodging the attacks of super-sized killer robots called Sentinels, who have the ability to adapt to defeat their genetic superpowers. In a last-ditch effort to prevent their destruction Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellan) send Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back in time to communicate with their earlier selves and undo the events that will result in the robots’ creation. But one thing’s for certain wih time travel, messing around with the past can have unexpected results in the future.
Watching from the vantage point of my recent viewing, I’ve got to say that as a scriptwriter I was impressed by two things in particular: how smoothly the rather complicated storyline was delivered, and how often director Bryan Singer was able to weave in prior film connections and X Men comic lore without producing an overburdened homage to the series. Include the considerable special effects, a dozen or so new mutants, alongside real human concerns with the progress of our lives, and you’ve got a more than fair exchange for the price of a cinema ticket.
One of those human concerns is our seemingly universal desire to undo the past. Time travel films often focus their lens on our hopes for the future but X Men: Days of Future Past is all about regret and a chance to find redemption. It’s an easy theme to accept because we all tend to hold on to the idea that, given the opportunity, we would have alerted our younger selves to the danger of behaviour or events that are now long since past. But there are two problems with this idea, one that the X Men are aware of, and the other they are not.
Firstly, information only represents the possibility of change. As they commit Wolverine to the past, Professor X sees that Magneto is worried that their plan to warn their past selves won’t succeed:
Magneto: “It’s not him I’m worried about. We were young. We didn’t know any better.”
Professor X: “We will now.”
But they’re both aware that, even knowing where their actions will take them, they just might not listen. Their struggle on the edge of death reminded me strongly of Jesus’ talking about the afterlife and the plea the Rich Man in Hell makes to Abraham:
“He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’
“Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’
“‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
“He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”
It’s certainly proven true in Jesus’ case. The evidence for the resurrection of the best man who lived is regularly overlooked, along with his Gospel, because the implications for personal freedom are too severe.
Secondly, though, the X Men fail to realise that our mistakes are often the most valuable things we have. In their bid to change the future to avoid their demise they forget that the love and care they feel for each other at the end is a product of the struggles they have gone through. This will be Hugh Jackman’s seventh appearance as the Wolverine, making him (yet again) the longest running actor to portray a comic book character. However this Wolverine is decidedly more mellow…or wiser, if you like, having managed to make a friend of even Magneto. We often forget that altering our past would also alter the gains God has made in our character. I don’t enjoy thinking on the mistakes I’ve made, but my regret is a reflection of my increased desire to be like Him.
Release Date: May 22