When I did my X-men review, I wanted to go more into Days of Future Past, but I ran out of time. So, here we go.
Honestly, this one was my favorite.
I’m going to jump right in by bringing up the principle theme, split into two different plot lines, of the film.
The theme is Redemption.
First off we learn that in the future mutants are hunted down (so much for the efforts of the X-men in all the previous movies) and so are any humans who side with them or who harbor some early form of the mutant x-gene.
The reason all this happened is not because of Magneto’s heinous acts against humanity, as one might expect, but because of one murder of Mystique’s. Her first ( not her last.)
Mystique was always a pretty rough and seemingly merciless and conscience-less character in the first three films, in the fourth we learn she wasn’t always that way, in the fifth they finally get around to asking “What if she could have been different?”
If they could stop her from murdering the man, Trask, they could stop the war that is killing off all of them.
There are a couple things that come to my mind when I think about the idea of traveling back in time to save people.
There’s my favorite book, Till We Have Faces, in which the main character thinks that the gods can change the past. At first thinking they do so to make us seem guilty, and later realizing they do so by changing us ourselves into different people.
Then there is that verse in the Bible that says we redeem the time because the days are evil.
That certainly fits this movie’s whole premise.
I don’t believe time travel is strictly possible. But if it were, I would think it was like any other gift, meant to be used to help and to heal, but able to be used to do damage.
There’s plenty of fiction that covers the latter, but this film interestingly enough shows how, even with the best of intentions, someone could still make the future worse than ever by going back. There’s a delicate moment when Future Charles warns the team not to wake Logan up, or there will be a worse darkness than there is now. By which he means that thanks to Erik, the mutants will have exterminated humans.
Now if Logan had not gone back and busted Erik out, that could not have happened.
Actually Erik was mostly useless in the film. He didn’t help convince Raven not to shoot the guy, he didn’t try to change the people’s minds about mutants, he almost sealed their fate.
But I guess it was better for him.
Raven was the most intriguing character to me from the beginning, since I had heard she turned good eventually, but I was constantly frustrated by her poor choices.
What I liked about this film was its disdain of the idea that Raven was meant to kill Trask, and that the War was meant to happen. Of course those terrible things weren’t meant to happen.
The movie admits, through Younger Charles, that Raven needs to have a choice, but it never leaves any doubt that there is only one right choice for her to make.
That’s the thing abut knowing the future, it’s pretty hard to argue with it.
The reason Raven refuses to listen at first seems to be pure stubbornness and resentment of Charles’es attempt to control her; but I think it’s also human nature to deny consequences to our bad choices…why else do we make them?
The theme of redeeming the time comes in strongly in another way, through Logan’s wake up call to Charles himself. We know that before Logan came back, Charles wasted a good portion of those years, and was not there for Raven or for other mutants, as Erik spitefully (and unjustly considering his many betrayals) points out.
But Charles changes that, and redeems his own time as well as Raven’s.
Raven always chose Erik before, he was more intriguing, he had a sort of magnetic personality, even Charles felt its pull though he knew better than to listen to him.
What makes Raven in the end choose Charles is a number of factors.
Partly it’s that she realizes a lot sooner that Erik is not loyal to her, and does not care about her in any recognizable way; as she had thought he did. (By the way, trying to kill someone and then flirting with them when it is too late is sick and only seems charismatic in movies.)
Partly it’s that she is told the future depends basically on her actions. (Which is one thing that does not change oddly enough. People are positioned, they don’t get to choose that, they only get to choose how they use that position.)
But the most important thing that changes her mind is Charles’es persistence, and finally his releasing of her to be who she truly is.
And who she was, he believes, was never the person Erik saw her as, Older Erik admits he set her on a dark path; who she was was not even exactly what Charles himself thought, she was more than that.
When released from those negative expectations, Raven realizes what she really wants, and she drops the gun.
That moment was every bit as epic as it was intended to be, because we know how hard they worked for it.
Raven sees an opportunity to be seen as a hero instead of a villain, and she chooses it. And I personally thought the look on her face when she turns to Charles and Hank afterwards was pure relief.
Raven actually saves her own life by doing this, though no one ever actually told her (in the cut version I saw) that she died as a result of shooting Trask.
Much like another fictional character named Raven (Ever After High), she changes the whole course of history in one moment.
And who knows when any one of us might do the same thing?
Until next time–Natasha.