10 Things Parents Should Know About X-Men: Days of Future Past (Spoiler-Free)


(Note: There are no spoilers – beyond anything that’s already in the trailers, that is – for X-Men: Days of Future Past in this article. I do mention several things that could be considered spoilers for one or more of the previous X-Men movies, however, so be aware of that.)

1. Will I like it?

Yes! X-Men: Days of Future Past isn’t just a great superhero film; it’s a great action film (and a bit of a political thriller) that has superheroes in it. There’s a genuine, involving story, and multidimensional characters the viewer actually cares about. Someone needs to sit Michael Bay down and make him watch this film, because it has a lesson for directors like him: there are a ton of special effects in it, of course, but they serve the story instead of the other way around. It’s truly the best of the X-Men movies so far, and that’s really saying something.

2. Will my kids like it?

There are some pretty intense scenes, but if your kids can handle them they will love the movie. Some of the plot may be a little tough for littler kids to follow, and they’re much less likely to get a lot of the 1970s and various comic book-related references, but those are just decorations on the cake’s icing.

3. It’s rated PG-13 and you mentioned intense scenes; should I take my kids to see it?

I won’t lie to you: there are scenes in X-Men: DoFP that are harder to handle than those in any of the previous X-Men movies. The dystopian future in which the movie opens includes several shots of piles of corpses in various states of decay (though the camera doesn’t linger on them). Bad things happen to characters the audience is meant to like, several times. There is also a shot of Hugh Jackman’s naked rear end, and of course Mystique is nearly naked (and blue) in a great deal of the film.

So, how to tell if your kid can handle it? If they could handle Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and don’t get too freaked out by seeing dead bodies in a movie, they’ll probably be fine. Both my 13-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter enjoyed the film tremendously and didn’t have any trouble dealing with what they saw.

4. Do I need to have seen all the previous X-Men movies to understand what’s going on?

No, although having seen them will help you understand some of the movie sooner than if you haven’t, and I particularly recommend seeing at least the first film and X-Men: First Class. If you only have time to catch up on one, make it the latter. But don’t worry if you haven’t seen any of them: you’ll still enjoy the film plenty, even if a few references here and there will likely sneak past you.

And, of course, I would never recommend to anyone that they see X-Men: The Last Stand or either of the Wolverine movies.

5. When’s the best time for a restroom break?

There’s an extended scene with several of the characters on an airplane on their way to China (really not a spoiler, trust me). While the scene is excellent, its resolution is pretty much what you would expect it to be, so you won’t miss crucial plot points if you miss it. Whatever you do, try not to miss any of the scenes with the teenager with very light-colored hair – they’re some of the best parts of the movie (and that’s saying something).

If you need a break later in the movie (as it’s fairly long), there are no great times to go, honestly. You could go when you see Magneto pay a visit to a ballpark, as while it’s an important and excellent scene it’s also fairly long, and you’ll easily pick up what you missed when you return.

6. Is it worth paying more for 3D?

No. It wasn’t filmed in 3D – it was converted later – which usually means it’s not worth it, and this is no exception. I saw it in 2D, and didn’t wish even for a second that it looked any different from the way it did. Don’t waste your money paying extra for something that’s just going to detract from the experience, if it has any effect at all.

7. Do I need to sit through the end credits for a bonus scene at the end?

Yes! There’s a scene at the end that will not surprise anyone who is familiar with the comic books and/or who knows the title of the next X-Men movie. Anyone who isn’t and doesn’t will likely be a bit perplexed, but will still enjoy it – and can surely figure out what it means with a little post-movie Googling.

8. I love Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones. How is he in this movie?

He’s excellent, as you’d expect; just don’t expect him to be anything like Tyrion, because the character looks and acts very different. He does a terrific job giving his character, Bolivar Trask, more depth than many other actors would have. Trask is definitely a villain, in that you don’t want his plans to succeed, but he’s not exactly a conventional one. I would have liked to see Dinklage get a bit more time on-screen than he does, but the movie is already 2 hours and 14 minutes as it is, so I understand the need for some economy on that score.

9. What about the other well-known actors in it?

Ellen Page does a good job as Kitty Pryde, a role which doesn’t give her many lines even though she’s integral to the plot. Ian McKellen is wonderful when he’s there, of course, but is in my opinion underused. Patrick Stewart has much more to do, and is, naturally, great as well. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender are as good in DoFP as they were in First Class – which is to say excellent – even though the characters have changed in the 11 years since the events of that film. Jennifer Lawrence is terrific as Mystique, who is absolutely crucial to the entire plot, showing that it is possible to act even when nearly naked and blue. And of course Hugh Jackman carries the film, and does so with a lot more range than he usually demonstrates as Wolverine (even if he’s demonstrated it plenty of times in other films as other characters). There are others, of course, but they’re the standouts.

What’s particularly nice to see in this film is that, while a lot of fairly minor mutant characters make appearances or are mentioned, it’s never in a way that’s extraneous. That’s a truly rare thing in any movie built on comic books.

10. Will I want to see it again?

If you’re at all like me, you will. I know there are references here and there that I missed, and even if that wasn’t the case, I’d want to see it again just because it’s a really good movie. Go see this movie, now! You won’t regret it.

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