(originally posted June 6th 2014)
I’ll be honest; I’m not a big ‘X-Men’ fan. So, when I agreed to see ‘Days of Future Past,’ I wasn’t entirely sure what I was getting into. I had hopes for a film that would be semi-decent and, surprisingly, it turned out to be more than that.
The film is an adaptation of the comic book story of the same name, and acts as a sequel to both ‘X-Men: The Last Stand’ (the third film in a trilogy and the one that everyone hates) and ‘X-Men: First Class’ (the prequel film which was so much better).
In the not too distant future, mutant kind has more or less been wiped out and the planet overrun with machines called Sentinels, which are designed to hunt and kill mutants. Typical post-apocalypse stuff (and before you ask, no, he’s not in this film). The few remaining members of the X-Men, including former enemy, Magneto, have devised a plan to send Wolverine (reprised by Hugh Jackman) back in time to the 1970’s to prevent certain events from ever happening, with the help of the young versions of Professor X and Magneto (played by James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, who return from ‘First Class,’ respectively).
I don’t know how well the film stands compared to previous ‘X-Men’ movies nor do I know how well it adapts the original story, but based off on its own merits, I’d say it was actually pretty good.
All the actors deliver top-notch jobs, with James McAvoy deserving of much praise as young Xavier. In ‘First Class’ he was very much just Professor X with hair but here, we see a side of the character that’s very unfamiliar: broken and wallowing in despair. McAvoy really gets the pain he’s feeling across and it serves as an interesting comparison with Patrick Stewart’s portrayal. Michael Fassbender is just as on par as well, but midway through the film, he quickly switches from sympathetic to full-blown villain territory, which I guess makes some sense given how ‘First Class’ ended.
Hugh Jackman continues to be brilliant as Wolverine; he’s pretty much become the character by this point, if that wasn’t apparent already. And as bad as ‘The Last Stand’ and ‘Origins’ were, even then I felt he at least gave solid performances. I particularly love his role here, as he ironically acts as a sort of mentor to Xavier, trying to push him into becoming the man we see in the future and helping him through the pain he’s experiencing, due to his whole life falling apart around him. In fact, if you’re worried old Wolvie’s gonna hog the limelight like he did for every other movie (except for ‘First Class,’ though even then, he had the best scene in the movie), he actually takes more of a backseat to events, acting more of an observer. It’s still very much the story of Xavier and Erik (and Mystique, who most of the plot hinges around).
Though the best character in the whole film is easily Quicksilver, played by Evan Peters. When I first saw him on the posters, I couldn’t help but feel that he was going to be that really unlikable douche-bag that they expect you to like ironically, but no; he’s actually really funny and pretty much steals every scene he’s in. Despite having an amazing superpower (super speed), he never comes across as ‘cool;’ if anything, he’s a massive dork. A massive dork in the 70’s. The only downside is that he’s not in the film as much as the marketing would make you think, though it’s most likely because his power was so broken that he could probably have resolved everything before the midpoint.
I can’t help but feel sorry for the actors returning from the original trilogy, though, since their roles are more or less glorified cameos. Shadowcat (Ellen Page) is important since she’s the one who sends Wolverine back in time (despite the fact that’s not one of her superpowers but whatever) but the rest like Halle Berry as Storm and Shawn Ashmore as Iceman are there so as to remind us that those first three films still happened.
Speaking of the other films, without giving too much away, ‘Days of Future Past’s ultimate purpose is to try and link all these films together. Anyone who’s watched all the films thus far will no doubt have noticed glaring continuity errors, and while this film doesn’t sort it all out in the most dignified of ways, I can say that it very much paves the way for more high-quality ‘X-Men’ films.
And I do consider this film high-quality. I was pleasantly surprised with how much I liked ‘First Class’ but it was almost predictable in many respects (though one can argue as a prequel, that’s to be expected). ‘Days of Future Past,’ however, due to its nature of being split across two time periods, kept me on my toes. I’ve mentioned in a previous post that I love being surprised, and this film did it quite a few times. I actually found myself wondering how it would end – usually the answer’s obvious; not so much with this one.
The combination of good writing and fantastic acting has very much led to possibly the best ‘X-Men’ film to date (I haven’t seen ‘X2’ all the way through so don’t kill me for that statement) and I think it’s safe to have high hopes for the next one, which is set to introduce one of the biggest Marvel bad guys. Get hyped, people.