The franchise that launched the modern era comic book movie fourteen years ago is still going strong. While there have been a couple stumbling blocks along the way, for the most part the franchise has remained solid, including 2011’s semi reboot of the series, X-Men First Class. Acting as both a sequel to the previous film and a connector to the original trilogy, Days of Future Past showcases the most impressive X-Men cast and most ambitious story yet.
Taking it’s name and inspiration from the comic book arc of the same name, the film opens as a group of mutants battle for their lives against the evil Sentinels. These are not the clunky robots you might remember from the 90’s cartoon, but lithe, deadly machines that are all but unstoppable in their mission to eradicate mutants from the face of the Earth. Escaping, for the time being, the group rendezvous with some welcome faces.
Rejoining the franchise are old familiars, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, and Halle Berry as Xavier, Magneto, and Storm. Arriving with Hugh Jackman‘s Wolverine – the connecting thread between all seven films – the four of them discuss a plan with the survivors of the recent battle – Warpath, Blink, Colossus, Iceman, Sunspot, Shadowcat/Kitty Pryde, and Bishop. It’s obvious this is a war that can no longer be won, so the only thing to to is stop it from ever beginning. Using Kitty’s newly introduced power to transport a person’s consciousness through time, Wolverine gets set to travel back to the 70’s in order to change the course of history for the better.
The rest of the massive cast includes James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Anna Paquin, Ellen Page, Nicholas Hoult, Kelsey Grammer, Peter Dinklage, Shawn Ashmore, Omar Sy, Daniel Cudmore, Evan Peters, Fan Bingbing, James Marsden, Famke Janssen, and more.
Right off the bat it is obvious that director Bryan Singer is not overly concerned with answering every question about little details like how Professor X is still alive or what happened between The Wolverine and this film. That never bothered me though as Days of Future Past is more concerned with being it’s own thing than forcing a bunch of half-baked answers and connections into the plot. X-Men has never been one to be a stickler for continuity and canon – a fact never more apparent than in this film. Like the comic book world from which it comes, this franchise is constantly reinventing itself. Sometimes that’s not a good thing, but in this case it is.
For the first time in fourteen years we are given an X-Men movie. Yes there have been six other films, some of them quite good, starring X-men characters. But this is the first one that truly feels like an X-Men film and not just a movie with various X-Men in it. Taking the time to flesh out some of the key players, and even some of the minor ones, we get a more fully realized world with some seriously bad-ass mutants. Magneto (Fassbender) has never been so mercilessly terrifying at his worst while being a complex and sympathetic person at his best. We see a startling new side to Xavier that brings his character even more into focus. While I am still not sure of Jennifer Lawrence (as much as I am a fan of hers) as Raven/Mystique, there is no denying that the character is at her most interesting, as well as most intense as she is an acrobatic one woman army.
Hugh Jackman continues to embody the role of Logan/Wolverine as if it is the role he was born to play – despite initial complaints of being too tall and musical way back when. Peter Dinklage with his uncanny booming voice shines as the conniving Boliver Trask. The real stand out here though is Evan Peters as
Pietro Peter Maximoff, aka Quicksilver. Joss Whedon and Aaron Taylor-Johnson have their work cut out for them when bring their competing vision of the speedster to the big screen in Avengers 2 next year. As the playful punk with the powers of super accelerated pep, Peters captures his namesake’s personality perfectly. Showcasing superhuman speed is not something always done successfully on screen, but this is the exception. His creative antics during an escape sequence are done with a clever eye and style, assuring his place as a new favorite, as well as spot in the next film.
Story-wise, the film walks the fine line between being too complicated for it’s own good, and too straightforward for an audience who has seen the same superhero plots too many times. There are undoubtedly plot holes in logic peppered throughout – especially at the end, but until you successfully prove how time travel works, they’re easily ignored. In the same way that The Winter Soldiertranscends the genre, so this is also a film about politics and people first, using the comic book elements of action and super powers as the vehicle for making the story more interesting.
X-Men fans are going to love this film as it injects new life into the franchise, provides a cohesion to the films and even manages to make moot some of the less-liked moments of the past films. It gives a promising path for the future of the characters with a post credits stinger you certainly need to stay for. This is the movie we have been waiting fourteen years for and the future looks bright.
Mrs. Hamster says:
“I definitely liked it more than First Class – it felt more like the shows I watched, more true to X-men. Skip the 3D, though.”
My rating: Five out of five hats
X-Men: Days of Future Past quantum leaps into 3,996 theaters, May 23 in 2D and 3D.