Review: X-Men: Days Of Future Past

There have been four X-Men films and two spin-offs in the last 14 years. Within that span Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield have been Spider-Man, we’ve had three different Hulks, and a pair of Supermen. Despite this Hugh Jackman has become Wolverine for a generation, along with Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen personifying Charles Xavier and Magneto respectively. X-Men: Days Of Future Past acts as a sequel/reset while reinvigorating this long running series in this new age of comic book films. DOFP is by far the best film in the series and does an exceptional job correcting the course of the franchise after X-Men:The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. This movie builds off the momentum that began with First Class and The Wolverine and brings together casts of First Class and the original trilogy for a great superhero film and sci-fi epic.

DOFP is set in a dystopian future where machines called Sentinels have killed nearly all mutants and humans. The last remaining X-Men have gone underground to hide from these unstoppable foes, and are using Kitty Prides time travel ability to stay alive. When Charles and Magneto meet them they decided to send Logan (Wolverine) back into the 70s to change the course of history and prevent the creation of The Sentinels entirely. Time Travel is my favorite sci-fi trope and the possibilities for plot development can be clever if executed properly. As cool as it can be, it can also presents a ton of contradictions and plot holes in a story. When dealing with a super hero tale of this magnitude, with multiple characters, over the course of several films, with varying casts… It’s a surprise that this story makes any sense. Even bigger of a surprise is how well the movie works as a comic book film, sci-fi thriller and overall incredible movie. Credit to director Bryan Singer for returning to the franchise and creating his best film. Writers Simon Kinsberg, Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldmen make sense of the convoluted plot established so many years ago. Characters mention the mission objective a bit to much, and some of their actions are less nuanced then they should be, but these are criticisms that will go largely unnoticed.

Hugh Jackman has been the star of this franchise since the beginning. Although it has hindered some other mutants from getting their proper screen time, it has allowed Logan to grow over the course of the series and Jackman delivers his best performance here. The anger and frustration is still there, but it’s less yelling and more subtly. We’re used to seeing him as the hot head, but he’s mentoring Charles  for a fun role reversal. Most of the films humor comes from his side comments and he’s as physically impressive as ever despite his age. 

There are a ton of stars in this movie and they all get their proper time to shine. The X-Men of the future consist Bishop, Blink, Sunspot, Warpath, Iceman, Kitty Pride and Colossus. The opening scene is some of the best mutant action in the whole film and the teamwork they display is clever and great to look at. Blink’s use of her powers are probably the best next to Quicksilver (more on him later). They are eventually joined by Charles, Magneto, Wolverine and Storm, but we don’t see much of the future in the movie. The First Class cast are front and center and most deliver great performances. James McAvoy’s arc as a broken Charles is well done and the brief time he interacts with his future-self is satisfying. Michael Fassbender does a fine job as Magneto bringing a great balance of rage and understanding to the complex character. There are some decision his character makes that are a bit dramatic to me, and only seem to move the story forward or provide an excuse for him lift something heavy. Unfortunately, the weakest of the performances has to be Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique. It might just be a person gripe I have with her in the makeup. When she’s using facial expressions to emote it simply doesn’t work for me. Its unfortunate because she is given a very important role in this film. Hank McCoy returns as Beast for a solid performance, but Quicksilver is the surprise of the movie and his short time on screen is executed perfectly. The set piece in the Pentagon kitchen is amazing!

To really enjoy this movie you had to have watched all of the previous X-Men films while also deciding to ignore major developments in those movies. You also have to accept the fact that one act will drastically alter the future while other major events in the past will not, but I was willing to forgive the movie because its executed so well. The action is great, the drama hold weight, there is significant character development and the end left a smile on my face. Despite its flaws the movie exceeded my expectation and will probably be my favorite movie of the summer.