Bryan Singer’s “X-MEN” movies will always get a certain amount of credit for being good enough. When that first film hit, we were still in post-“BATMAN & ROBIN” fallout and Raimi’s “SPIDER-MAN” was still a year away. So despite Singer being at best a modestly competent stylist who can’t really direct action, the first one gets to be remembered as pretty-good while the sequel (also pretty-good) coasts by on the residual “whoa!” of seeing that Phoenix tease just before the credits rolled. Plus, the third one was so spectacularly terrible it made everything else look that much better until “ORIGINS: WOLVERINE” came out.
But none of that changes what an oddly underwhelming series this is, overall, and I imagine the consensus on it would be worse still if Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart hadn’t continued to be such beloved movie-nerd icons today. “FIRST CLASS” is still the only entry in the franchise that’s legitimately great, and unsurprisingly it was 99.9% free of any connection to the rest of the series and the only entry to have been helmed by a truly great filmmaker in Matthew Vaughn. Everything wrong with the whole series can be summed-up by the cheezy new poster (on the right,) wherein everything else is just a tiny detail within a sooooo serious brooding Wolverine, while Jennifer Lawrence stares blankly as though she’d rather be doing anything else.
BUT! Credit where do, even though I’m still pretty certain that Singer coming back is a step backwards… the new trailer for “DAYS OF FUTURE PAST” looks pretty damn great. It’s still hurt by the lingering presence of everything still being carried-over from the inferior earlier movies (all the damn black rubber, Singer’s dreary po-faced gloom, Halle Berry) but yeah – it looks big-scale and cool and the Sentinels look great and it looks like Iceman gets to do his surfing thing so that’ll be fun to see; and it looks like Mystique has an appropriately big role… which is interesting, since it’s kind of an open-secret that she, Fassbender and others from “FIRST CLASS” had basically had to be contract-bullied into doing another one of these (Fassbender is apparently looking for “ASSASSIN’S CREED” to be his franchise ticket, not this.)
There’s supposedly a lot still being held back from this or deliberately edited-around by the trailers. If you look close, it feels like everything involving the “future” is from one or two scenes in the same basic setting, which would jibe with the pre-production word that the majority of the film is a 70s-set deal with the “FIRST CLASS” crew. What I’d really like to see is for the “change the future” part of this plot leading to a near-complete reboot: Use the “changed timeline” as an excuse to re-cast the “A-list” X-Men and re-start for the “present” carrying-over the best stuff from the FC timeline but abandoning any pretense of lining-up with the “Look, this is the best we were able to manage at the time” original Singer-timeline.