X-Men: Days of Future Past
So this is the movie that tries to unite the old X-Men trilogy with X-Men: First Class (which I always thought was over-rated), establishing that they do exist in the same universe, and raising awkward questions like why Mystique’s relationship with Xavier never came up before, or exactly when the first scene of X-Men: The Last Stand was supposed to take place. But aside from those little problems hiding in the background, Days of Future Past is an awesome film. Out of the three superhero films I’ve watched this year, this one is easily the best.
We open on a dystopian world where Earth has been taken over by the Sentinels, intelligent, adaptable machines specifically designed to hunt and kill mutants of any kind. Facing a war they can’t possibly win, what’s left of the X-Men decide to take the Terminator option and go back in time to prevent the war happening in the first place. Specifically, Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) has his consciousness transferred into his past self in 1973, so he can prevent Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from unintentionally ensuring that the Sentinel project gets the go-ahead – but the only way to do that is to persuade the estranged Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) to work together again. It’s not going to be easy.
Days of Future Past, while certainly nothing ground-breaking, contains all the elements of what I like to see in a superhero movie: a story that makes sense, flows neatly, and takes time to explore the characters and their unique universe; fleshed-out characters that we get invested in and who get to show off their abilities in cool action scenes; and no (or very few) openly stupid moments that distract from better things. Everything just clicks.
Time travel is used well in the story; it might have been interesting to explain a bit more about the original timeline, like how Xavier and Magneto originally got from the difficult positions they were in at the beginning of Wolverine’s Excellent Adventure – but then, that’s probably not really important. Besides trying to prevent the creation of the Sentinels, it’s certainly not predictable how the future’s going to turn out as new events and complications keep piling up. As for the fusion of First Class and the original trilogy, it’s mostly pretty smooth, and more believable than I had imagined by the end of First Class – partly because most of the new mutants from that film are absent here, which I wasn’t sorry for.
With so many characters (such as the new mutants seen fighting the Sentinels at the beginning), it’s naturally going to be difficult to find a balance for all of them, but Bryan Singer does the best he can. It feels like pretty much all the side characters (who don’t need to have lots of time spent on them) get decent opportunities to show off, and I certainly didn’t feel dissatisfied with how much I saw of them. Mind you, considering just how powerful and potentially useful Evan Peters’s Quicksilver is, one wonders why the other heroes don’t keep him around after his single mission; maybe they’re concerned about his attitude. Fortunately, Quicksilver makes the most of what screentime he has, and perhaps it’s because it’s limited that we can best appreciate how cool he is. Peter Dinklage, meanwhile, is as excellent as ever as the creator of the Sentinels.
Perhaps the main problem with DOFP is that while everything is very good, there’s not much that’s truly exceptional in terms of the story, the action, the characters or the acting – which is the only thing that prevents me from giving it a higher rating. It’s a highly enjoyable superhero movie, and definitely recommended. Rating: 4/5.