X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST Movie Review
The shackles have been broken on the cinematic X-Men universe and not only is X-Men: Days Of Future Past the best X-Men movie that Bryan Singer has directed, it’s his best movie since The Usual Suspects. We live in a world now where box office success has shown that studios don’t have to be skeptical or cynical to deliver comic book movies that connect with audiences and thanks to the excellent X-Men: First Class, we were given an X-Men outing that embraced it’s fantastic elements and proved what a colorful and exciting world these mutants could live in.
The one obstacle that stood in the way of moving this franchise forward, instead of starting over from scratch was how to resolve all of the restrained baggage that’s been hanging over the franchise like a dark cloud and connect it with the style and enthusiasm of First Class. What better way to rewrite history than with time travel? Days Of Future Past isn’t the first time this franchise has gone to the well of comic book writer Chris Claremont, X2 drew inspiration from God Loves, Man Kills to uninspired results and Brett Ratner’s outing butchered The Dark Phoenix Saga into an unrecognizable catastrophe. I don’t want filmmakers to be slaves to the source material. I appreciate unique visions that embrace the spirit of their inspirations without being ashamed of what they’re portraying, and in that sense, Days Of Future Past delivers in spades.
The film opens in a dystopian future that resembles the cold visual palette seen in Singer’s previous X-Men films, mutants are shown on the verge of termination from advanced sentient robots known as Sentinels. Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) inherits the responsibility to send Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back to 1973 and hopefully restore balance by preventing Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from committing a crime that has altered their fate with disastrous consequences. When the film gets settled in this alternate history setting, Singer gets really enthusiastic about playing in this world that First Class established and since the majority of Future Past takes place there, the narrative refreshingly doesn’t waste time trying to connect all of the confusing pieces that previous installments left behind, the quantum physics of alternate universes and string theory relieves the narrative of having to explain any of it. Dozens of characters make appearances throughout this story and none of them really get much time to develope, yet Singer really impresses with these characters in action, the dynamic that is shown between fellow mutants in battle are the closest we’ve come to the X-Men leaping off the panels.
The most exciting sequence in the film, surprisingly revolves around Quicksilver (Evan Peters), who bares no resemblance to his comic book counterpart but is an entertaining character that works great in the context of this scene. The defiant speedster is tasked with breaking out Magneto (Michael Fassbender) from a prison cell beneath the Pentagon and it is visually remarkable, the inspired choice of Time in a Bottle by Jim Croce gives it an extra layer of cinematic surrealism. Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) as the antagonist is unfortunately a big missed opportunity, Dinklage gives him as much weight as the script allows but his internal conflict and motivations are mostly left to speculate. It’s obvious that there is a self-loathing beneath his surface and history has shown what that can do to those that come into power. There are many interesting ideas that could be explored with his character, but the ambitions in the narrative are so grand that some characters have to suffer from a development perspective.
The tensions expanded between Xavier (James McAvoy), Mystique and Magneto really raise the emotional stakes and the potential threat that their indifferences cause to Wolverine’s mission, captured my concern and caused every consequence to matter. Not that the time travel concept doesn’t let some consequences off the hook, but the implications that resonate through the characters are what matter the most. The balance between the darker dramatic elements and fun spirited energy is the foundation of what makes so much of this movie work. Much like in First Class with the missiles in Cuba, there are alternate history theories that are played with in inventive ways, for instance the “Magic Bullet” Theory.
X-Men: Days Of Future Past proves that there are many exciting stories left to tell in this franchise and much of that thanks is owed to Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn for laying out so many great ideas for Simon Kinberg’s screenplay to expand upon. What I enjoyed most about Days Of Future Past, is that this movie works as a pretty good X-Men movie and a really fun time travel movie. This movie can stand in the company of The Terminator, Back To The Future and Looper, in the way it plays with the concept. The momentum of cinematic X-Men adventures continues to rise, thanks to Singer’s redemption, leaving possibiities that look endless and exciting.