I review the sixth film in the X-Men franchise, Days of Future Past - starring Hugh Jackman, Jennifer Lawrence, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Peter Dinklage, Nicholas Hoult and more – directed by Bryan Singer, this sequel to X-Men: First Class is quite possibly one of the best superhero movies yet. Hit the break to see why.
There were a lot of things that looked set to go wrong with this latest prequel-sequel-reboot of the X-Men series – from the outset, the large cast meant that it had the potential to backfire the way The Last Stand did - and already people were complaining about not just different costume designs, of characters (most notably Quicksilver) but also how Wolverine would replace Kitty as the person who went back in time – with Kitty going back in the comic that this film was adapted from. However, X-Men: Days of Future Past turned out to be a success – and in my view, not just the best X-Men movie yet, it’s one of the best Marvel movies yet, ranking up there easily with Captain America: The Winter Soldier and easily outclassing The Avengers.
We open in the future. The Sentinels, created by Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage), who was killed by Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) in the 1970s – and now working for the Government, have hunted mutantkind to the brink of extinction. All that remains are a small faction of mutants, lead by Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Erik Lensherr (Ian McKellen) – who, whilst in hiding from the Sentinel onslaught, have come up with a plan to stop Mystique from killing Trask and change the future – meaning that the Sentinels never persecuted mutants to the extent that they did. To do this however, the only person who Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) can send back into their younger body is Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) because he is exactly the same age then as he is now. Once Wolverine is sent back in time however, he has to deal with the impossible task of getting a broken, younger Charles (James McAvoy) who has lost everything, including the trading of his powers for the ability to walk – united with a younger Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender), who is held in captive beneath the Pentagon - to stop Mystique from unwittingly leading mutantkind to extinction.
The film is epic in every sense of the word. Whilst yes, Wolverine is sent back instead of Kitty – Singer manages to make it work, placing Logan at the centre of the action and having him adapt to the 1970s well. Despite the vast cast, the main focus is on Mystique, the younger Charles and Erik, Wolverine and Beast (Nicholas Hoult) – with the rest of the mutants getting smaller roles and showing up in certain places. For example, early on in the film, Logan recruits Pietro Maximoff (Evan Peters), a mutant with the power to use supersonic speed – to rescue Erik from captivity. The sequence that follows is one of the best in the whole film, providing a great comic relief moment that really works. Whilst Quicksilver is then largely absent for the rest of the film, he makes his presence felt - and Joss Whedon is going to have some work to do to make sure that his version beats Singer’s.
Fans of the X-Men who were annoyed at the ending of The Last Stand (aka pretty much everyone) will be greatly pleased by this instalment as it practically erases everything that happened in that movie much to the delight of myself in particular. You’ll have to wait to the very end to see the full effects of Logan’s journey back in time to have an effect – but they really do pay off, with a welcome return by fan favourite characters. It’s a scene that’s pulled off incredibly well, with the whole final act being one of the strongest comic book movie endings that have been pulled off. It also gives a lot more confidence for fans going forward – as now that they know their old favourites are back and it should be interesting to see them hopefully crop up again in the future.
Visually distinct, Days of Future Past looks amazing. I saw it in 2D rather than 3D and would say that it works very well – there’s a scene where Magneto lifts a sports stadium into the sky that is handled nicely in the movie’s final act, and is by far the most ambitious film in the franchise yet, with the numerous cast alone screaming that it has a lot on its plate.
The performances from multiple actors here are superb – James McAvoy is at his best, delivering a haunted and broken Xavier very well – and like before, Fassbender impresses as Erik. Peters also puts in a good performance as Quicksilver, and on the villainous side, Peter Dinklage delivers a strong performance in his role as Trask.
It can be argued that the film’s cast don’t get enough time to show off, and there are a few scenes that try to add to the tension but just feel like extra padding for the film. But despite these minor problems, Days of Future Past is a success, and one of the finest superhero movies to date. It’s certainly in my Top 5, and this is a film that you’ll really want to check out. Utterly superb.