X-Men: Days of Future Past is a film that had a recipe for disaster. A plot involving time-travel, a vast amount of characters to fit in and a director returning to a franchise that he left to pursue another project. From all of the trailers I always thought Days of Future Past was either going to be spectacularly bad or absolutely amazing.
Set ten years on from the events in The Wolverine, Days of Future Past sees mutants facing extinction at the hands of robots known as Sentinels. Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), Magneto (Ian McKellen) and Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) travel to meet fellow mutants who are hiding from the Sentinels. Amongst them is Kitty (Ellen Page), who has the ability to send a person’s consciousness back in time to change future events.
Xavier tells his fellow mutants of the past, where Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) killed the creator of the Sentinels, Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage), leading to mutants being cast out as enemies. Mystique’s actions resulted in her being captured and her DNA being used to make the Sentinels the unstoppable enemy they become in the future.
Using Kitty’s power, Wolverine is sent back to 1973 to unite a young Xavier (James McAvoy) and young Magneto (Michael Fassbender) and stop Mystique to change the fate of their futures.
The major test a film involving time-travel has to pass is whether the story can be told without ending up being scattered all over the place. Days of Future Past passed this test with flying colours.
It was good to see both Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman involved with writing the story after their fantastic contribution towards X-Men: First Class. Along with Simon Kinberg they have put together a story that not only ties up plot lines for the older X-Men cast but will also enable the younger cast to take the franchise through further films.
Kinberg himself wrote the screenplay and it serves as a reminder that not all comic-book films have to be entirely serious. His screenplay is full of wit and humour and the best part is that not all of it is given to Wolverine.
Days of Future Past strangely almost feels like an apology from Bryan Singer after he left the franchise to direct Superman Returns back in 2006. Like us, Singer must have been in disbelief at how bad X-Men: The Last Stand was compared to the high standard he had set with both X-Men and X2.
This is a project that he obviously cares about greatly and it is no coincidence that Singer has been at the helm for some of the better films in the X-Men franchise.
Days of Future Past also sees John Ottman return to provide the film’s soundtrack. Bringing back the theme from the original films and combining it with some nods to the First Class soundtrack give it a real superhero feel.
The mixture of old and new cast in Days of Future Past is one of the biggest attractions to this film and it is pulled off superbly. We know the likes of Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen can deliver great performances however, all eyes were on the younger versions of their characters.
After impressing in First Class, I was more interested in seeing James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender taking their characters to the next level. They both deliver fine performances once again in Days of Future Past, Fassbender’s Magneto wondering between good and bad in his conflicted mind and McAvoy’s Xavier a broken man, intent on never using his powers again.
There is an emotionally charged scene between the old and young Xavier that will make you, if you haven’t already, stand up and take notice of James McAvoy.
Other returning First Class cast members include Jennifer Lawrence and Nicholas Hoult as Beast. Both get more to do here and they do it with the quality that you expect from the pair. Peter Dinklage also manages to bring a touch of class to proceedings in the role of Bolivar Trask.
Then there is Hugh Jackman, who might as well change his name to Logan or Wolverine, as he is that suited for the role. Days of Future Past further backs up my opinion that the character of Wolverine works so much better when in a film with the rest of the X-Men. His two solo outings to date have been pretty poor but when in a film like this, Jackman seems as if he is enjoying himself and not snoozing his way through the film.
Days of Future Past manages to deliver on the action side of things as well. An opening battle with the sinister Sentinels allows Singer to bring us familiars such as Storm (Halle Berry), Iceman (Shawn Ashmore) and Colossus (Daniel Cudmore) as well as introducing us to new mutants; Blink (Fan Bingbing), Sunspot (Adam Canto), Warpath (Booboo Stewart) and Bishop (Omar Sy).
There is one new character who steals the show though and that is Quicksilver, played by Evan Peters. A character who had taken a lot of abuse on the internet before the film was even released will most likely shut those people up. His character is involved in breaking Magneto out of the Pentagon and when he gets his chance to shine it is magnificent.
In a brilliantly executed scene, Quicksilver shows off his powers by whizzing around the room at supersonic speeds, taking out all the guards and taking time to move the path of the bullets fired at Magneto, Xavier and Wolverine. It delivered both on action and humour, getting the biggest laugh from the audience.
We don’t see Quicksilver again but that may just be a good thing because if Singer was to use a similar scene later on in the film, it might just have got a little boring. I do look forward to seeing him pop up again in X-Men: Apocalypse.
There is a scene right after the end credits but if you are like me and don’t have such a great knowledge of the comics, it might leave you scratching your head. All I know is that it does link to the already announced X-Men: Apocalypse in 2016.
X-Men: Days of Future Past managed to blow away all of my doubts and is a triumphant return to the franchise for Bryan Singer. Up there with X-Men: First Class as one of the best in the franchise and arguably the best comic book film of the year, so far.
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