"Hope and Compassion Overcome Fear and Hatred"
In the new X-MEN movie, DAYS OF FUTURE PAST, a group of mutant-hunting flying robots has almost destroyed the human race, so the remaining X-Men send Wolverine’s consciousness back in time to 1973 to stop the creation of the robots. The new movie has an exciting story and some strong positive strong elements, but these are mixed with references to evolution within a mixed political allegory plus some foul language. The good news is that the movie is comparable to the more positive first three X-MEN movies, but the filmmakers add an “f” bomb and some revisionist historical references in one sequence.
The movie begins with a narration by Patrick Stewart as Professor Xavier, the leader of the heroic X-Men team of mutant superheroes with super powers. An army of giant, mutant-hunting flying robots called Sentinels has taken over Earth. With help from a brilliant scientist, mutant-fearing humans created the robots in 1973 to track down all mutants carrying the special “X” gene and kill them. Eventually, however, the Sentinels gained the ability to detect which “normal” human beings might be able to pass on the X gene to their children or grandchildren. So, most normal humans have also been killed.
The X-Men use the time-travel abilities of Kitty Pryde to send Wolverine’s consciousness back to 1973, into his younger body. Once there, Wolverine has to find a way to unite the young Professor Xavier and his mutant nemesis, Magneto, to stop the creation of the powerful mutant-hunting robots. They have to find a way to stop Mystique, Professor Xavier’s former mutant friend, from murdering the scientist who created the robots. The scientist’s murder led the American government to create the robots anyway to wipe out all mutants.
Back in the future, hiding in China, Professor Xavier wonders if they really will be able to change Mystique’s mind and change the future. Meanwhile, an army of robots is on its way to kill the professor and the mutants protecting the mutant using her powers to send Wolverine back in time.
Can Wolverine and the young Xavier get Magneto to work with them to stop Mystique in time? Or, will Magneto’s hatred and fear of non-mutant humans put the whole plan in jeopardy? Just when they’re about to succeed, Magneto interferes, their plan goes awry, and it looks as if the killer robots will be built anyway, no matter what they do. Thus, everyone begins to wonder if history can be changed or not.
DAYS OF FUTURE PAST is an excellent time travel story. It’s never confusing and has plenty of twists and lots of action to keep viewers on the edge of their seats. Though the sequences set in the future have too many characters to maintain one’s interest, the plot is simply enough to follow. Moreover, it all leads to a big, dramatic action sequence at the end where Wolverine and Professor Xavier try to stop both Magneto and Mystique in the past while Professor Xavier and the remaining X-Men try to fend off the cool-looking giant killer robots.
There is one possible major problem MOVIEGUIDE® can see with the story’s structure. Although the movie has a lot of exciting action sequences and high drama, along with some brief comic relief, the best action sequence occurs in the movie’s first half. This sequence is so much fun that some viewers might think the rest of the movie pales in comparison. Despite this potential problem, the movie as a whole succeeds pretty well. Also, Hugh Jackman has never been better as Wolverine as he is here. James McAvoy, and Michael Fassbender are also excellent as the young Professor Xavier and the young Magneto, as is Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique and Evan Peters as Quicksilver. The rest of the cast is also good, although a couple actors could have been given more of a character arc, especially Peter Dinklage as the scientist who creates the giant robots.
Content-wise, the biggest problems with DAYS OF FUTURE PAST involve worldview, foul language and some brief lewd elements. There’s a significant, but not excessive, amount of foul language (see the CONTENT section for more details). Also, the movie implies in one scene that Wolverine has slept multiple times with a woman with whom he wakes up in bed when he is completely nude. Finally, the worldview problems include some humanist elements, especially in two or three references to evolution. For example, it’s stated and implied that the mutant gene is the next step in human evolution. In fact, one “normal” human says the mutants could wipe out the normal humans, much in the same that it’s alleged homo sapiens sapiens (or “modern man”) wiped out Neanderthal homo sapiens. In reality, however, some recent scientific evidence suggests that Neanderthals were just a primitive race of human beings who were assimilated by more modern-looking human beings. Also, the mutant gene suggests vaguely the disproven theory of homosexuality.
There’s a potential politically correct aspect to DAYS OF FUTURE PAST. At one point, a character says humans always fear and hate people who are different than them (as per the discrimination against mutants in the movie). This message can be stretched in a politically correct, immoral and even evil way to excuse such things as the latest sexual fad or the latest scheme to legalize racial and sexual preferences that actually discriminate against and even oppress other people.
Stan Lee, the famous co-creator of the X-MEN comics, has something to say about this issue. In one Internet blog (http://secretsbehindthexmen.blogspot.com/2011/12/stan-lees-x-men.html), Lee is quoted as saying “The whole underlying message of the X-Men was about ‘love thy fellow man.’ He may have wings growing out of his back or beams shooting out of his eyes, or he may be a different color or different race, but he’s still your brother. It’s wrong to hate or persecute people just because they look or act different than you, or because they worship differently than you do.” Differences in worship styles and in the color of people’s skin are one thing, but some people act in ways that’s bad for other people or bad for society, including basic social, moral institutions like the Family and Marriage, so acting “differently” is not always a good thing and is sometimes even a really bad thing.
In addition to these worldview problems, at one point in the movie, the characters have to go to the 1973 Paris peace talks during the Vietnam War between South Vietnam, North Vietnam’s communist government, the United States, and the pro-terrorist Viet Cong’s communist political group. Mystique plans to assassinate the evil scientist there, because the scientist is also trying to sell his mutant-hunting killer robots to the communists, including the Soviet Union’s communist thugs bankrolling North Vietnam. At a couple points in this sequence, the movie says and implies that the U.S. is at the peace talks because the communists have won the Vietnam War. In reality, of course, the exact opposite is true. The communists had agreed to the peace talks because America was winning the war, mostly because of President Nixon’s bombing campaign. North Vietnam was also afraid that improved relations between the America, Russia and China would isolate them. All this was part of Nixon’s strategy, which was brilliant, even though, admittedly, Nixon wanted an eventual pullout of American troops to quiet pro-communist antiwar opponents at home, but with continued military support for South Vietnam to keep the support of anti-communists. However, Nixon had to resign in 1975 because of the Watergate scandal, and Democratic Party radicals in the U.S. Congress surrendered South Vietnam to the communist tyrants and terrorists. These relatively minor revisionist history elements in the X-MEN movie reflect a leftist view of truth. They don’t take up a lot of time in the movie, but they are extremely annoying. They also might warp the political views and historical knowledge of innocent, unwise, uninformed, and impressionable moviegoers.
All this said, these problematic elements are combined with a strong, positive moral center running throughout X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST. Throughout the well-structured story, the goal of the good guys, especially when led by the wise Professor Xavier, is to stop the violence through non-violent, peaceful, righteous means. For the most part, the good guys are only defending themselves. They’re also trying to convince Mystique that violence isn’t the answer to prejudice, bigotry, and fear against the mutant population. Thus, Professor Xavier keeps asking and telling Mystique as well as the militant Magneto to do the right thing. In asking this, there is talk about hope, compassion, peace, and reaching out to the normal human beings, including the governmental powers. Also, at one point, Professor Xavier, who was close friends with Mystique before she turned against him and his peaceful philosophy of co-existence, tells her he has faith in her ability to make the right choice when the time comes. In this way, the movie promotes a moral, or morally uplifting, and even redemptive, worldview. So, in the end, DAYS OF FUTURE PAST has a mixed worldview with both positive and negative elements, but with a positive premise that says, to put it one way, hope, compassion, peace, and faith cast out fear, hatred, violence, and distrust.
All in all, therefore, X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST ultimately is an entertaining, engrossing superhero movie, with some really strong positive messages throughout, but strong caution is advised for the movie’s foul language (including one “f” bomb and two GDs), brief lewd moments, intense action, scary robots, reference to a LSD trip, and some questionable, misleading philosophical, theological, and political content. DAYS OF FUTURE PAST is not a movie for pre-teenagers and other vulnerable viewers. As always, media-wise moviegoers should become informed by carefully reading MOVIEGUIDE®’s whole review and practice discernment.
(Pa, H, Ev, BB, C, PC, RH, Ho, LL, VV, S, NN, D, M) Light mixed pagan worldview includes some humanist elements, including two or three early references to evolution regarding mutant genes creating a race of mutant humans that could wipe out non-mutant people (the movie uses the alleged extinction of Neanderthal homo sapiens by homo sapiens sapiens or “modern man,” a scenario that the scientific evidence seems to disprove at the time of this review), combined with strong moral elements and some light redemptive ones in the movie’s premise stressing hope, faith, doing the right thing, and using peaceful means and compassion rather than violence, fear, and hatred to stop bigotry (one bad mutant also seems a bit racist and even Nazi-like in his approach toward non-mutants), vague analogy between mutants and homosexuals, plus a possible politically correct tone that includes a revisionist history element when the movie claims that the U.S. and Vietnam went to the peace talks in Paris in 1973 because the Communists won the Vietnam War when, in reality, the Vietnamese Communists went to the peace talks and actually agreed to let South Vietnam have some freedom because America was winning and improved relations between the U.S., Russia, and China might isolate them; 19 obscenities (mostly “h” words but one nonsexual “f” word, several “s” words, two “ah” words,” two or three “d” words, one a++ word, and one “pi++ off”), two GD profanities, two “God!” profanities, and one borderline “God knows” profanity; strong action and science fiction violence with very little blood and no gore such as girl shot in leg, man slashes and impales villains with claws, intense fighting, huge chunk of baseball stadium falls in front of police car, gunfire (especially by robots), fire/volcano and ice mutant humans attack giant murderous robots with molten fire and ice, killer robots pierce several people, two flying robot vehicles crash into one another, man accidentally stabs compatriot, two characters threaten president and his entourage with guns, two men almost drown, flying objects, man almost crushed and has blood on forehead but is alive, etc.; no actual sex scenes but man wakes up in bed next to women, and there’s a line about this not being the only time they’ve slept together; one shot of female nudity where one mutant character has scales on her nude body in her scenes, image of full rear male nudity after man climbs out of bed and stands in front of mirror, and brief upper male nudity; no alcohol use; man smokes cigar in one or two shots, reference to LSD trip and man implicitly uses medicine injection to silence mutant powers; and, hatred but rebuked, fear but rebuked, a joke is made about President Kennedy’s assassination and the alleged but phony “magic bullet” theory, psychic exercises and experiences, and revengeful woman decides to assassinate evil scientist but one hero often tries to talk her out of it.
X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST is an excellent time travel story. In the future, an army of giant flying robots has taken over Earth, killing both mutants and now also humans. To try to save humanity, Professor Xavier and his superhero X-Men send Wolverine’s consciousness back in time to 1973 when the robots were first created. Wolverine has to convince a young Professor Xavier and his nemesis to work together. They must stop the professor’s former friend, Mystique, from killing the scientist who created the robots. Her assassination prompted the government to create the robots to kill the mutants anyway.
X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST is an entertaining, engrossing superhero movie, with really strong positive messages throughout. Hugh Jackman is particularly good this time out as Wolverine. Even better, the movie has some strong moral elements. In the story, hope, compassion, peace, and faith cast out fear, hatred, violence, and distrust. This positive content, however, is marred by some foul language, brief lewd moments, intense action, scary robots, and some objectionable philosophical, theological, political content. So, DAYS OF FUTURE PAST warrants strong caution.