Is the new X-Men film more of a X2 or an X-Men Origins: Wolverine? Find out now!
X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, Peter Dinklage
Directed by: Bryan Singer
To say that X-Men: Days of Future Past is director Bryan Singer’s apology for leaving the franchise to direct Superman Returns is an understatement. Deftly balancing the cast of the original X-Men trilogy of films and the cast from First Class, X-Men: Days of Future Past is an incredible achievement in the fact that it not only wraps up the past films in a satisfying way, but also sets up some potentially awesome things for X-Men films to come. If you’ll excuse me, I’d like to use this opportunity for one last swipe at Sony’s handling of my beloved Spider-Man: this is how it’s done Sony! PAY ATTENTION!
In the near future, the mutant and human population is bordering near extinction. Thanks to advanced Sentinels that can adapt to the powers used against them, the remaining X-Men are literally fighting for their lives. With no more options, Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellan) must go back in time to prevent Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from assassinating Bolívar Trask (Peter Dinklage), the event that starts the construction of the Sentinels.
Using Kitty Pryde’s (Ellen Page) phasing abilities, the two mutants have discovered a way to transport someone’s brain back into their younger body, effectively sending them back in time. Unfortunately for Prof. X, the procedure is extremely difficult, and could end up killing the person. So, the task falls on Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), to go back to 1973 and prevent the present that they all live in. But, can Wolvie bring Prof X and Magneto’s younger selves (played by James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender) together again, when one is at his lowest point spiritually, and the other in locked up in a high security prison?
From the beginning, Days of Future Past is an absolute blast. The action comes fast and surprisingly brutal. For a PG-13 rated film, there’s an awful lot of extremely violent kills that the future Sentinels perform. We don’t spend much time with the future X-Men though, and fans of the original trilogy should know that Storm (Halle Berry), Colossus (Daniel Cudmore), and Iceman (Shawn Ashmore) are the definition of supporting players. Days of Future Past is primarily a sequel to 2011’s underrated First Class, and a bulk of the story focuses on this cast and time period. Thankfully, seeing Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, and Jennifer Lawrence again is a supreme treat, and the fact that they all get to play off of Hugh Jackman as Wolverine is icing on the cake.
There’s a lot here to unpack, and while I won’t go into extreme SPOILERS, I do want to mention one character that stood out the most to me: Quicksilver. I know, I know. Trust me, I was like all of you, making fun of those god-awful Empire magazine pictures. But Evan Peters is so much fun to watch that I take back everything bad I said about those pictures. Quicksilver’s powers are handled in a fantastic way, and his big action set piece is one of the highlights of the film. Even now I think back to his big moment and smile. He’s not in it for much of the film, but he’s fantastic for the parts that he’s in.
There’s a real sense of epic scope to DOFP that I honestly haven’t felt since Avengers or Captain America: The Winter Soldier. As you can probably tell from the trailers and my summary, there’s a LOT going on in this movie, but amazingly Singer is able to keep it all not only coherent, but entertaining as well. This is a comic book movie that doesn’t shy away from the over the top comic book elements that it’s based on. There’s no over explanation of the premise of time travel. Patrick Stewart explains it early on and you immediately buy it. DOFP is also not afraid to have a little fun too. Like Joss Whedon’s Avengers, DOFP walks that amazing tightrope of “fun” and “serious”, and because of that it’s the most entertaining movie of the summer season so far.
Everything you’ve wanted to see since the first X-Men movie back in 2000 (!) is here. Want to see Magneto really cut loose with his powers? The guy lifts an entire goddamn STADIUM for the final battle. Want to see an army of Sentinels descend on our mutants? Yup, you get that too. Tired of Wolverine hogging the spotlight? Well, he’s still the reason for bringing Xavier and Magneto together in 73, but once Fassbender joins the crew, Logan takes a back seat to Charles and Erik. (in fact, Wolverine isn’t even in the final climatic battle!).
Speaking of McAvoy and Fassbender, the two return to their roles without skipping a beat. McAvoy does an absolutely incredible job as the tortured young Charles Xavier, and of course, Fassbender is still an ultimate badass. The scenes that these two share are absolutely dynamite. The two play off each other beautifully. However, the real show-stopping moment comes when our two Xaviers come face to face. As Patrick Stewart looks into the face of McAvoy and tells him “we need you to hope again”, it’s impossible to not be moved.
So yes, it’s fair to say that I was completely blown away by Days of Future Past. But, it’s not without its problems. We never get a real reason for how Professor X is alive and wheeling around since the events of Last Stand, and no, you don’t find out how the future Wolverine’s claws are adamantium again. The film also directly contradicts events in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but to be honest, it seems like no one counts that film as canon anyways. I also wasn’t a fan of Beast’s ability to “hulk out” and turn into his blue furry self when he gets mad. However, the rest of the film is so good that it’s easy to overlook these problems.
We’re probably never going to see the X-Men cross into the Marvel Studios world, but as long as Fox can churn out films as good as Days of Future Past, I’ll be happy. This is Bryan Singer’s apology for allowing X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine to happen. In fact, those who feel burned by the series after seeing those films should ABSOLUTELY see this one. Much like Marvel’s Avengers, Days of Future Past isn’t just a great comic book film; it’s one of the best films the genre has to offer.
(Oh, make sure you stay until the end…you’ll probably have to explain the awesome end credits scene to your non-comic book reading friends).
-Story is a ton of fun
-Redeems the franchise
-Doesn’t answer every question you’d have
-Beast’s “Hulk out”