My interest in the X-Men was rejuvenated with the fantastically entertaining ‘First Class’ as Bryan Singer returned to patch up the lacklustre movies that were X3 and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Thankfully, Days of Future Past manages to sustain and increase my interest in the series.
In the future, businessman Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) creates super-powered robots known as sentinels (aka the big thing at the end of Thor) which can pretty much wipe out all the mutants because they absorb the mutants’ powers. To stop this from happening, Patrick Stewart Xavier and Ian McKellan Magneto send Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) to go back in time to unite James McAvoy Xavier and Michael Fassbender Magneto together to stop Mystique performing a deadly action which will seal the disastrous fate waiting for mutant-kind.
Okay so the cast. You’d think it’d all get very complicated with the whole Stewart/McAvoy, McKellan/Fassbender thing but it, surprisingly, doesn’t. It actually works really well and makes for a tremendously entertaining cross cutting movie where your feelings are genuinely pitted for the youngsters and their older selves. It also visually shows how far they’ve come, with Fassbender’s Magneto still proving problematic for his older self who now, somewhat, has realised the errors of his past. All the actors are great, it was nice seeing many originals such as Halle Berry as Storm and well… I won’t spoil anymore. It all feels very nostalgic. McAvoy and Fassbender expand their performances from First Class, Jackman is as good as ever, Nicholas Hault makes a fine Beast and Jennifer Lawrence nails her tragic story arc as Mystique, not to mention a solid performance from Dinklage as the villain Trask.
It’s worth mentioning the film is extremely emotionally heavily, especially if you are actually invested in the series. There are a lot of deaths, but not to worry because the film is crammed with scientific jargon and multi-verses and when one thing happens, you can bet its effects will be ultimately erased. Still, seeing such chaos and tragedy on screen, especially with a fantastically emotional score from John Ottman reminiscent of John Murphy’s in ‘Sunshine’ proves almost tearful. As ever with the X-Men movies, the emotional weight of conflict and discrimination is shown strongly, more prevalent in Days of Future Past than ever.
The effects are great, the Sentinels are menacing (though again, a direct copy of the baddy in Thor) and the people/mutants are, refreshingly, human. The story is morally ambiguous, Magneto, Mystique and Trask all have perfectly sound reasons for their actions and for this reason the movie is particularly shocking and relevant towards the real world. Whilst embracing comic book story telling, Days of Future Past definitely is a film for our times.
The bad? Some things are left unexplained, for example why Xavier is alive in his own body after the events of X3 and a particularly confusing final scene involving mystique and William Stryker. This is redeemed though, for a change this time travel thriller isn’t overly complicated or crammed with stuff to convolute the plot. The 2 hour running time is over in a blink with a briskly told story that remains entertaining through out. Good stuff, Singer.
Fast, entertaining and emotionally weighted, Days of Future Past is a big thumbs up and a welcome entry to the series. Xcellent.