Movie Review – X-Men Days of Future Past (2014)

Director: Bryan Singer

Stars: Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Peter DInklage, Ellen Page, Shawn Ashmore, Halle Berre, Daniel Cudmore, Evan Peters, Josh Helmen, Omar Sy, Bingbing Fan, and Patrick Stewart & Ian McKellen.

Wow that’s a lot of names.

Wow this is a good movie.

X-Men: Days of Future Past begins in a dystopian future where mutants are hunted by machines called Sentinels. Only a handful of the X-Men are left, and their extinction seems to be inevitable. Professor X unveils a plan to send one person’s consciousness back in time so they can prevent the war before it ever gets started. The only person who can travel back safely is Wolverine, and his task is to unite a younger Professor X and Magneto to stop Mystique before she sets of the chain of events that leads to the horrible future.

There’s a lot to talk about with this film. First of all it’s great that the two casts are brought together like this. I think everyone, no matter how small their part, did a great job (with the possible exception of Jennifer Lawrence, as she just seemed to play, well, Jennifer Lawrence).

I loved seeing the different time periods. The future was really cool with a very dark and grim aesthetic. You could tell just from the visuals that this was a bad place, and honestly it could have been a movie all on its own. It was great to see returning faces, along with some new ones. Blink’s powers looked phenomenal on the big screen and led to some great fight scenes. The Sentinels were brutal and relentless, and this led to some moments where I winced.

The story is set in motion quickly though, and soon we’re back in the 70s where things quickly went bad after X-Men: First Class. I liked seeing Wolverine have to try and convince Charles and Erik to work together after all that happened, and Fassbender and McAvoy once again nail their characters. Fassbender in particular stands out, and while Magneto didn’t have that much to do in the future, he was essential in the past. Quicksilver was a great addition and, as has been reported already, his role will be bigger in the next film. I loved seeing his powers in action and in a film that had such a serious threat he provided moments of levity, and it was nice to see someone actually enjoy their powers for once, as too many heroes now are brooding and don’t seem to actually take joy in what they can do.

There are plenty of revelations as the story progresses and while the plot is complex it never feels overwhelming. The tension ramps up at the climax and leaves you on the edge of your seat. I loved the contrast between the past and the future. At one point Magneto is being heroic in one time and villainous in the other, and to see both sides of the character made for great drama.

This serves as a rewarding film for people who have followed the X-Men franchise since the first film but also provides a springboard for future movies. There are so many cameos, and some are very surprising so I won’t spoil any of them. I think Singer struck a good balance with the cast, as he knew which characters to focus on and which ones to leave as a small appearance, and despite the fact they are a large amount of characters the film doesn’t feel overcrowded.

The only weak link in the cast I feel is Jennifer Lawrence. She gets a lot of plaudits and awards, and I do enjoy her but I never feel that she loses herself in a role. Even with the body suit and make-up I still never saw Mystique, I just saw Jennifer Lawrence. I actually thought Mystique was best when she was impersonating other people. The rest of the cast was great though, especially Fassbender. He has such gravitas as Magneto and I hope he plays the character for a long time. He and McAvoy really do shine, and it’s testament to their ability and the writing that they manage to command the screen when Stewart and McKellan play the same characters in the same film.

There’s so much good stuff in here that I feel like I could gush all day about it, so instead I will talk about a couple of things that didn’t quite work.

One of them is something my friend pointed out. These next paragraph may be considered a soft spoiler to some, so if you don’t want to know anything about the film then skip the next few paragraphs.

Consider yourself warned.

So the key to the Sentinels being able to adapt to mutant powers in the future is said to come from Mystique’s DNA, but this doesn’t really make sense as she only has the power to transform her appearance. I suppose they found a way to adapt her DNA and make it so that the Sentinels could find the perfect way to defeat whatever mutant they were facing, but I would have loved it if Rogue played a part somehow. I’m not sure how it would have worked exactly, but given that Rogue had a big part to play in the first trilogy it would have been fitting had she been an important part in this one too. Perhaps they could have mentioned that Mystique was the first key and Rogue finished it off, because it makes more sense that her powers could be adapted. Saying that, it could have been mentioned that Trask somehow got his hands on Darwin’s DNA.

Speaking of Rogue, they had the perfect opportunity to show her with her usual powers of flight and super-strength in the future, yet that didn’t happen! I was disappointed with that, and it seems that we’ll never get that version of Rogue.

The other thing that didn’t quite make sense is at the end there’s a voice-over talking about the ripples through time. And from what I gathered the sentiment is that you can make ripples, but the actual end result will be the same, a theory espoused by Beast earlier in the film. So I got the feeling that although they had averted the major crisis some things were basically destined to happen, and this was showing Stryker finding Wolverine. However, it’s then revealed that it’s actually Mystique, so I don’t really know where they were going with it because it seems that that part of history is also changing.

Spoilers over.

And finally there’s the end credits scene, which was awesome. My criticism here is with the marketing people though. The title of the next film has already been announced, so when I saw the end credits scene it didn’t have the same impact as it otherwise would have. I wish they had kept the title a secret until this film had been released for a few weeks, as my mind would have been blown. I imagine a lot of moviegoers will have similar feelings to the post-credits scene in Avengers, but people who know more about the X-Men will be excited.

That’s X-Men: Days of Future Past. I loved it and I’m going to try and see it again. I thought the balance between the past and future was right. I only have minor criticisms of the movie. There are so many cool things and little touches for fans to spot. One of my favourite little easter eggs is an episode of Star Trek being played on television, as a Trekkie this made me happy, and I’m sure I won’t be the only one who manages to work out which episode it is from just a few seconds of footage. But the action was great, the scope and scale is epic. It continues the social commentary that is at the heart of X-Men and provides a film that has pretty much everything you could want.

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