X-Men: Days of Future Past, directed by Bryan Singer. Starring Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Halle Berry, Ellen Page, Nicholas Hoult.
A couple of nights ago I caught a midnight screening of this week’s big blockbuster release, X-Men: Days of Future Past. It’s been long-awaited, heavily advertised, appealed to our heartstrings with sombre trailer music and brilliantly edited, drawn out slo-mo conflicts between the mutants of the past and future.
So the question is, does it live up?
A basic rundown of the plot: Wolverine goes back in time to warn Xavier, Magneto, and the rest of the mutants we met in First Class, of the terrible future that awaits them should they let events take their course. We watch as he struggles to get the team together again in the aftermath of the events of X-Men: First Class, and meanwhile watch in horror as the Sentinels of the future are closing in on our aging heroes who are giving their all in their one last battle to save the future from itself.
In a convoluted and occasionally emotionally manipulative way, the crisis is averted.
Sort of. Let’s say it is.
To be honest I’m not sure what was achieved with this movie. I feel, in many ways, cheated as an X-Men fan.
Overall it’s worth a watch, mostly for fans of the original trilogy who will appreciate all the various nods to the films, including cameos of beloved characters, several flashbacks lifted straight from the old films (you know, in case you’ve forgotten what happened), riffs of the original trilogy soundtrack woven into the music for this film as well as into the 20th Century Fox jingle, and the general sense of doomed nostalgia that permeates the whole thing.
Now, as far as how well this meshes with First Class, the answer is: not very.
First Class did that reboot thing where they created an alternate timeline without upsetting the canon, yet we’re meant to believe that the actions of First Class are somehow linked to the first trilogy, which would make no sense at all, story-wise or character-wise. There’s several moments where the script feels as if written by college freshmen doing Intro to Screenwriting, and several headbutt moments where we are called to ignore plotholes and glaring unanswered questions for the sake of SCIENCE!
Here’s the thing though: this isn’t the 60s anymore; our scientific knowledge has expanded. For a premise that bases itself so heavily on genetics and biology, there is about 0% of plausible science in this film, which in my opinion is a terrible flaw. I will not believe for a second that some sort of serum treatment that looks and feels for all intents and purposes like regular heroin, is actually responsible for the aleviation of… certain symptoms (no spoilers!) but also the inhibition of powers, through some sort of weird DNA magic.
That is not how DNA works. Your average twelve-year-old could tell you that much. Get a high school textbook or something and make your story work without resorting to cheap tricks like that. Maybe learn a thing or two from the Avengers franchise, which has extracted concepts and premises from the comic books and infused them with real science, so that even the comically outrageous origin stories of Iron Man and Captain America can co-exist in a world very grounded in reality.
Performance-wise everyone delivers absolutely great stuff, including Peter Dinklage as Bolivar Trask, and the returning cast of First Class – James McAvoy as Professor Xavier, Michael Fassbender as Magneto, Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique and Nicholas Hoult as Beast – as well as the X-Men of the future whom we know from the original films – Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Ellen Page, Shawn Ashmore, Halle Berry and of course Hugh Jackman – do a great job with what they’re given.
(I do find it a bit funny that Anna Paquin’s two second cameo earns her higher billing than Ellen Page, who’s in at least half of the film. But I digress.)
One great addition to the cast is Evan Peters as Quicksilver, whose role in getting Magneto and Xavier back together is paramount, endearing, and absolutely hilarious. There’s a little quip in there about his mom knowing a guy with metal-bending powers, alluding to the fact he is actually Magneto’s son. There is no tear-filled family reunion, though it’s likely they’re saving that for the upcoming sequel. Personally, I can’t wait for more banter.
Lawrence’s Mystique strangely becomes the epicenter of the time-travel adventure, but the reasoning behind that changes halfway
through the film and never recovers its original momentum. No spoilers here, but if Wolverine is sent back to prevent one catastrophe, surely it should remain the focus instead of turn into yet another moral duel between Xavier and Magneto.
That being said, those two sure know how to duel: the chessboard makes a comeback; there’s meaningful looks and angry yelling; and in the future, the older versions of themselves finally hold hands as danger draws near.
I’m not even making this up. You couldn’t hide the homo if you tried.
In conclusion: it’s not all bad, so do give it a watch, but don’t hold your breath. In my personal opinion First Class was a much better constructed film than all three previous films put together (we shall strike the Wolverine films from the X-Men canon altogether and never speak of them again as they were both abysmal). This film, sadly, does not match up to its predecessor.
Oh, and do stay for the credits as there’s a ten second scene at the end that teases X-Men: Apocalypse, the next installment for
the franchise planned for 2016.
X-Men: Days of Future Past is out in cinemas today.