Director: Bryan Singer. Writer: Simon Kinberg, based on the comic book story by Chris Claremont and John Byrne. Starring: Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, Nicholas Hoult, Peter Dinklage, Ellen Page, Evan Peters, Josh Helman.
In the future, Bolivar Trask’s (Dinklage) unstoppable Sentinel robots are targeting and killing mutants, who are now on the verge of extinction. Professor Xavier (Stewart) and Magneto (McKellen) send Wolverine (Jackman) back in time to 1973 to prevent Mystique (Lawrence) from assassinating Trask, whose death by mutant hands convinced the US government to fund the Sentinel project. Wolverine will, however, also have to cooperate with the younger versions of Xavier (McAvoy) and Magneto (Fassbender), which is in itself no easy task.
As part of the X-Men film franchise, this movie negates the events of X-Men 1 through 3, unless you want to get into branching parallel realities, which you’ll have to just the same in order to explain away the paradoxes inherent in any time travel story: if the horrible future never occurred, then no one was sent back to correct it, which means it occurred anyway, which means the nice future didn’t happen, which means the horrible future happened instead, in which someone was sent back to change it into the nice future where no one was sent back, and so on ad nauseam.
So perhaps we’d better disregard paradox, the parallel worlds and/or the sudden redundancy of the original trilogy, and just look at X-Men: Days of Future Past as a separate effort. Based as it is on one of the comic book’s most classic stories (although much has been changed), it has a great plot to work with, one which the script serves well, giving it just the right level of complexity without skimping on the special effects set pieces. It is a plot based rather than action based movie, and that makes for a nice change from the hollow spectacle of many other blockbuster films. Not everyone may appreciate the scenes of Trask’s political maneuverings, or the attempts by Wolverine and Xavier to reason with Mystique and Magneto, but just like its predecessor X-Men: First Class, this is one picture that feels all the better for being grounded in some narrative solidity.
The other really great thing is the period: the 1970s look and feel brings a different flavour to the movie, and Wolverine’s serious mutton chops fit right in. Dinklage looks great too in his big hair and massive mustache, but it’s more than just hair and clothes – the whole era is just right for corporate intrigue and cloak-and-dagger scheming, and it’s perfect how President Nixon ends up playing an important part in the story. It’s actually a bit reminiscent of the 70s vibe in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, only with the X-Men movie having the advantage of actually taking place in the decade in question.
Action-wise, you’ll get all could reasonably need, but as I’ve said, Days of Future Past is somewhat lighter on fighting and booming than previous installments. To me, the most impressive FX showstopper is the pièce de resistance where Quicksilver (Peters) rearranges an entire contingent of armed guards so that they will take themselves out – one of the most inventive things I’ve seen in a while, and uproariously entertaining. The expected stuff is there too, like Magneto tossing buildings at people and Wolverine messing up people who just won’t understand that every once in a while you come across someone you shouldn’t have fucked with.
On the negative side, there’s too little of Trask, who should perhaps have been emphasized a bit more as he’s the only major villain. Other problems run in a similar vein: once more the screenwriters have desperately come up with a way to neutralize Xavier’s powers to prevent him from solving the whole problem in no time flat, and yet again the story focuses on Wolverine, which as usual leaves fascinating characters like Ice Man, Colossus and Kitty Pryde as little more than walk-on roles. One would think, for the good of the franchise’s future, that it’s in the studio’s interest to shine a spotlight on a few more of the many great characters available in the X-Men universe.
On the whole, a fine superhero film of substance and energy, and a worthy follow-up to the excellent First Class.
Rating: 8 of 10.