When news was released more than a year ago that Bryan Singer would be taking to the director’s chair once more to work on a new X-Men film that would link the characters from X-Men: First Class, younger versions of the mutants we know and love, and characters from X-Men: The Last Stand, there was a lot of buzz about the possibilities. A film that would mingle the younger and older versions of the X-Men, on screen at the same time, intrigued many people, and as a fan of both the comic books and the movies, I was very excited to see what Singer would bring us with “Days of Future Past”.
Now, I will say that while there are many people who didn’t care for “The Last Stand”, and that may be putting it politely, I didn’t mind it. It wasn’t in the same league as X-Men (2000) and X2 (2003) and “First Class” (2011) was a lot better, but I still enjoyed plenty of what “The Last Stand” offered. Moving on, I was over the moon about the opportunity to see the likes of Patrick Stewart, James McAvoy, Ian McKellen, Michael Fassbender, Hugh Jackman and Jennifer Lawrence, among others, share the screen and interact in a variety of ways. The potential was sky high, and I, among many other fans, couldn’t help but be concerned that perhaps the potential wouldn’t quite be lived up to. Now, after finally seeing the film, let’s look at whether or not my concern was warranted.
The plot of “Days of Future Past” is an interesting one. We are introduced to robots called Sentinels, killing machines created for the pure purpose of extinguishing the mutant race as well as any humans who aided mutants. After current-day X-Men, led by Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellen), are unable to stop the Sentinels in their aggressive mission to rid the World of the gifted, a plan is drawn up. We find that Sentinels were created using the mutant DNA of Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) who is able to adapt to any other mutant’s powers. Mystique was caught and used in the creation of the Sentinels in the 70’s. Professor Xavier and Magneto construct a plan to go back in time, using the powers of Kitty Pride (Ellen Page), in order to stop Mystique from inadvertently bringing about the creation of the Sentinels, and the destruction of all mutants. Only one X-Men is able to withstand the time travel experience though, due to the fact that he can heal as fast as he is injured, that mutant is of course Wolverine (Jackman). We follow Wolverine as he goes back to 1973 to find the younger version of Charles Xavier as well as Eric “Magneto” Lehnsherr to help him find Raven/Mystique and stop the brutal future events from ever occurring.
The story is great and the use of young and older versions of the X-Men is incredibly fun to watch. There is a large mix of mutants too, some of whom haven’t appeared in previous X-Men films which is nice and offers some diversity to what we are used to. The score, booming and majestic throughout, is excellent and feels truly epic at times where it should. The look of the film is amazing with so many breath-taking visuals from the opening scene right until the final one. The switch between future and past works wonderfully and the 70’s feels authentic and realistic, especially with the use in some scenes of dated-looking news camera footage. The contrast between future and past is spot on and gives us an idea of how important the task at hand really is.
The whole cast did a tremendous job and I can’t really complain about any of the performances. McAvoy, as Charles Xavier and Jennifer Lawrence, as Raven/Mystique, were standouts though, and really took the film to a level it hasn’t reached since X-2, eleven years ago. Jackman’s Wolverine brings about his usual great mix of sarcasm, anger, violence and humour and his interactions with the past mutants who are, at that time, unfamiliar with him, are very funny. I really enjoyed the Evan Peters’ performance as Quicksilver too, and the scenes he was involved with were some of the most enjoyable and memorable of the whole movie. Peters will apparently reprise this role in the next X-Men film that is slated for a 2016 release (X-Men Apocalypse) which is great, I thought he brought a lot of energy and fun to the character. Fassbender, as Eric, was also very good. He has a good on screen chemistry with McAvoy. McKellen and Stewart, though limited in their screen time in comparison to their past counterparts, brought some sturdiness to the film and I really enjoyed the interactions that the two men shared in a couple of scenes. Peter Dinklage, as Dr Trask, is enjoyable and it’s nice to see Dinklage, a talented actor, in a larger role in a mainstream film.
I would have perhaps liked to have seen a little bit more of a scene that occurs at the very end of the film, but I can’t go into that without giving too much away, so I won’t. I also feel like there could have been much more done with the interactions between past and future characters but I understand that there is only so much time. It is subjective, and didn’t do anything to spoil my enjoyment of the film. Oh yes, my enjoyment. I loved it. I would go as far as to say it is my favourite X-Men film to date, possibly surpassing even the brilliant X-2. Many will disagree, but I got exactly what I wanted in this film to the point where my only real criticisms regarded me wanting to see more of the characters. Singer did a magnificent job and the visuals and sound were immense and grand and brilliant.
An impressive cast, great story, beautiful visuals and thoroughly pleasing conclusion, X-Men: Days of Future Past was a big tick in the box marked “Did it exceed expectations?” I would be very surprised to hear that someone didn’t enjoy this film, because at the end of the day, underneath all the trimmings and intricacies, it is really just a ton of bloody great fun.