X-Men: Days of Future Past
I’ve been waiting for this adaptation for a while, and there was always a risk that getting so excited for a film could lead to crushing disappointment. Hell, it wouldn’t be the first time that I’ve been looking forward to a film only to have it leave me feeling empty and broken hearted.. Prometheus, I’m looking squarely at you. Fortunately, Days of Future past does not disappoint. Any worries that this adaptation of a favourite story might get it all wrong are very quickly put to rest. It grabs you from the start, knows exactly how to balance action and character building, and tells one hell of a story.
We start in a bleak future where mutants are rounded up and executed en masse by the Sentinels, robots designed by Boliver Trask. Having identified a key date in the history of the Sentinel war, Prof X and Magneto gather, with the handful of surviving mutants, and enact a plan for Kitty Pryde to send Wolverine’s consciousness back in time to the 70’s to try and stop Mystique setting this future in motion.
In the 70’s we find that time has not been kind to a now reclusive Charles Xavier. His school closed and run down, and he is a man tortured by his choices, and who takes some convincing to get back in the chair; so to speak.
It is interesting here that Wolverine becomes the voice of reason, while Charles is the more reactionary and angry character, full of doubt and struggling to find his way. It is a nice mirror of the established relationship we know from the original X-Men films, and one that they riff on nicely. See kids, you can have superb character development in a superhero movie.
There really is so much to love about this film. The fact that it shares enough in common with the comic is one. It shows a level of respect for the source that I appreciate seeing, it’s only the names that have really changed. (Wolverine goes back in time rather than Kitty Pryde, Trask is the target of the assassination that triggers the Sentinel program rather than Senator Kelly)
The cast are brilliant, and this is Fox handling a big ensemble cast film almost as well as Marvel did with the Avengers. Peter Dinklage is great as Trask, and once again James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender are brilliant as friends with significant idealogical clashes. Then there’s Jennifer Lawrence, who brilliantly brings a level to Mystique that we haven’t seen before; a scene where she finds Trask’s files on his mutant experimentation is really quite moving.
But if anyone is going to end up stealing the show, then I rather feel that it will be Evan Peters as Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor Johnson, the bar has been set. High). He plays it with a cocky charm, and plays it well. The Magneto jailbreak set piece is one of the most glorious extended sequences I’ve seen. Truly, truly wonderful. Also, there’s a glib comment made to Magneto that probably pushes the Marvel/Fox licensing agreements on the character as far as they can without breaking it. Cheeky, but fucking wonderful.
In order to put some balance on the review I should probably say that I wasn’t massively keen with the ending. Singer does a good job flipping back and forth between the 70’s and the Future, seeing cause and effect in action and tying them together. The problem is that all the peril is happening in the future but we have spent most of the movie with the characters from First Class, meaning the attachment needed to really drive drama isn’t there. Which is a real shame because characters like Blink, Warpath, Sunspot and Bishop deserve more.
There’s closure for some characters in the post-showdown, altered future; one that redresses the awful decisions made in X3. It’s a little schmaltzy in places, and I hope it’s just there to close the book on the original trilogy, and give the cast a good send off.
There’s also no explanation as to how future Wolverine has his adamantium claws back, it’s like Singer just had the final 20 minutes of “The Wolverine” wiped from his memory. Lucky bastard.
It doesn’t feel quite as fulfilling as Avengers Assemble did, but it does at least feel like a film made by someone who “gets” the X-Men, and it really is a very, very good film. I would happily pay to see it again at the cinema, and given how much that costs nowadays that’s a pretty big deal.
8.5/10 (ignore the star rating below on this one, it doesn't do half stars...)
P.S. Obviously there is an end credit teaser, so stick around for it.