Cary, NC — Since its beginning 14 years ago, the X-Men film franchise has had seven films released, including this most recent movie. Remarkably, there have been more good entries than bad, but the bad ones really hurt and came close to destroying any and all goodwill the franchise had earned.
But with X-Men: First Class, which introduced us to a young Professor Xavier, played by James McAvoy (Atonement, The Chronicles of Narnia) and Magneto, played by recent Oscar nominee Michael Fassbender ( 12 Years A Slave, Prometheus) and last year’s great The Wolverine, the franchise found a second wind that culminates with X-Men: Days of Future Past. It’s an exciting time-jumping epic, that combines the best of both timelines to great effect.
Time Travel Element Dealt With Swiftly and Simply
As you can gather from the title, X-Men: Days of Future Past involves some time traveling.
The film opens about 15 or so years in the future, and the war on mutants has had a devastating effect on the planet as a whole, with both mutants and any humans who helped them, imprisoned on our own soil. The X-Men themselves are quietly waging war against the sentinels, giant robots that are programmed to take out any and all mutants.
In a last desperate bid, Professor Xavier and Magneto, reprised by Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen respectively, decide to send Wolverine’s consciousness back 50 years to 1973, so he can try to convince young Xavier and Magneto to put aside their differences and prevent this horrible future from happening.
That seems overly complicated right? Director Bryan Singer and company present all of this information within the first 15 minutes in such a confident and easy way that all you have to know is that things are bad in the future and they are going to change the past to try and fix it.
One thing that makes Days of Future Past so successful is that the stakes feel real.
Despite the fact that this is a superhero movie and generally speaking the good guys always win, this movie genuinely makes it feel like anything can happen, good or bad. Because of the time travel element, we actually see a few characters die onscreen, which only elevates that feeling. Of course, the idea is that Wolverine can successfully change the past so that those characters don’t have to die, but it still adds an element of danger that makes the film all the more exciting.
McAvoy And Fassbender Steal The Show
Hugh Jackman is the only actor to appear in all 7 films in some way, shape or form, and he was usually one of the best things about each film, even the bad ones.
This time, I think he has been up-staged. Don’t get me wrong, he brings his all and then some as the character. But this movie is all about James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, and Jennifer Lawrence as young Xavier, Magneto and Mystique.
McAvoy and Fassbender in particular do great work as the friends turned adversaries. Both treat the material seriously and with great respect, which in turn adds weight to any scene they share. In fact, the movie as a whole was a little more emotional than I was expecting. Not a drama by any means, but the film uses the history of these characters on screen in a way that makes the need to save them all the more impactful.
Should See Previous Installments
Having said that, I do think a viewer is going to get the most out of X-Men: Days of Future Past if they have seen the previous entries in the franchise. Let’s be honest, 7 films in, you know by now if you like these films or not. That’s not to say you have be a hardcore fan, but if you have even generally liked any of the films in this series then I believe there is plenty of enjoyment to get out of this installment.
My one true complaint is that the villain isn’t particularly menacing. The character Bolivar Trask, played by Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones), is the one who initially starts the hunt for all mutants by creating the robotic sentinels I mentioned earlier. However, we never get any real motivation behind the character. It’s a shame, because Dinklage is an enormously talented actor, who simply isn’t given much to do.
It should be noted, that the sentinels are beautifully realized on screen, and they are a big reason why the movie is able to convey such a big feeling of danger over who lives and who dies.
Worth A Trip!
Overall, X-Men: Days of Future Past is a refreshing and exciting entry in the superhero genre thanks to a great cast and an intriguing plot that kept me on edge to the very end. Well worth the price of admission!
Jordan Hunt covers the movies for CaryCitizen. Read more Movie Reviews.