Director: Bryan Singer Starring: Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen & Hugh Jackman Synopsis: “The X-Men send Wolverine to the past in a desperate effort to change history and prevent an event that results in doom for both humans and mutants.” Rating: 12A Runtime : 131 minutes
“So many battles waged over the years… and yet, none like this. Are we destined to destroy each other, or can we change each other and unite? Is the future truly set?”
In a way X-Men: Days of Future Past is a reboot of a reboot. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t do away with First Class whatsoever, but it does bring the franchises two big casts together and offers up a clean slate for everyone, and offers a way forward that at one time looked confusing to say the least. Bryan Singer’s return to the franchise is a fast and exciting one and is the best entry in the series since X-Men 2.
The story starts in the future, almost Terminator esque in its appearance, dark skies and ruined cities are the norm in most apocalyptic futures and it’s no different here. Mutants are either enslaved or killed as they are hunted down by human created machines known as Sentinels. These Sentinels were built to be unstoppable, a fact we soon learn as they take out a group of future set X-Men in a slickly done action set piece.
While not many of the original X-Men remain, we are reunited with a few who have, so far, managed to survive the apocalypse. Patrick Stewart returns as Professor X, as does Ian McKellen’s Magneto, along with Wolverine, Iceman, Kitty Pryde, Storm & Colossus. We are also introduced to several new mutants, Bishop (Omar Sy), Blink (Bingbing Fan), Sunspot (Adan Canto) and Warpath (Booboo Stewart).
One of Kitty Pryde’s (Ellen Page) abilities, that wasn’t mentioned in previous movies, is her ability to transport other mutants consciousness into their younger selves, enabling them to predict when the Sentinels will attack next and survive a little longer. It is here that the story switches back to the 70’s, as Wolverine, or his conscious, is sent back in time to stop the future apocalypse from ever happening. To do that, he must stop Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from assassinating the man who created the Sentinels in the first place, Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage).
Having director Bryan Singer return to the franchise he created way back in 2000 with the original X-Men movie was something the series desperately needed. Since he left to go and direct Superman Returns for Warner Bros. the franchise had lost its way. X-Men: The Last Stand was a muddled mess that was by no means awful, but was a genuine let down. Then we had two Wolverine spin-off movies, and despite my enjoyment of the second one of those, they never quite had the reaction the studio were expecting. X-Men: First Class was however, a good movie and had audiences genuinely interested in these characters again.
Singer is clearly enjoying himself here. As he unites and reunites the various characters from two generations worth of X-Men, he is able to connect both casts and all the muddled storylines in between. Time-travel is always a good way to play about with a franchise, and it proves so yet again here.
James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender are just as endearing here as they were in First Class. McAvoy gets to play around with the Xavier role this time round too. He has given up his powers for the ability to walk, all thanks to Hank McCoy’s destabilising serum, and has also turned into a drunk who walks around his mansion in his dressing gown. While Fassbender’s Magneto is incarcerated in a plastic prison deep within the Pentagon, having being arrested for the murder of JFK, he is soon back on the outside causing havoc on the distrusting humans. Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine is as likeable as ever, yet despite having a big part to play, he never intrudes to take centre stage.
Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique has grown as a character, working on her own now, she has upped her game a notch and isn’t beyond killing if the situation calls for it. Nicholas Hoult’s Beast gets a lot more screen time here, and Singer has thankfully corrected the poor CGI the character suffered from in First Class. The other characters from both timelines are either all too briefly seen, or are conveniently written off in events that occur in between the movies.
Havok appears in one scene, and Halle Berry’s Storm suffers a similar fate. Ian McKellen is not used near enough, while Iceman gets a few good scenes but then simply has to look troubled as his girlfriend struggles to keep Wolverine’s conscious stable. This was one of the main problems with First Class too, but as with so many movies like this it is just impossible to give everyone a fair amount of screentime and keep the story moving along at the same time.
The real star of the show though is Evan Peter’s Quicksilver. Despite his look being grumbled at by many beforehand, the character is used so well that the only downside is that he isn’t in the movie for longer. Peter’s clearly enjoys the role of a mutant whose power is to be so quick that everything appears in slow motion to him. The scene where he helps Magneto break out of prison and then take on a team of armed guards singlehandedly is one of the movies finest.
Singer has always been able to direct great action scenes, and those just wanting to see shit get blown up and mutants knocking seven bells out of each won’t leave disappointed. From the opening gambit, to the final moving of an entire sports stadium, Singer really brings the spectacle. Of course he also brings subtlety to the more dramatic scenes, which makes events even more heart wrenching at times.
X-Men: Days of Future Past has brains as well as brawn, mixing action with drama and due to the movies use of time travel means we can now forget that X-Men: The Last Stand or X-Men Origins: Wolverine ever happened.
In summary: A great summer blockbuster with smarts, drama and action that serves to successfully connect two generations of X-Men. Bring on X-Men: Apocalypse.