“Just because someone stumbles and loses their path, doesn’t mean they can’t be saved”
The X-Men franchise returns to the screen with a bang with its latest and greatest instalment Days of Future Past, which sees the original director from the first two films Bryan Singer return to the helm. But don’t think for a second this means more of the same, as the cast from the newer X-Men: First Class joins forces with the original cast to create a time-jumping extravaganza that enjoys a great balance of gritty science-fiction and the levity and humour that makes the X-Men films so enjoyable.
This is not to say that you will be blown away by the story as it hardly twists and turns like a good time travel film should, but when dealing with such a problematic time-based plot, its probably always best to keep things simple. A fantastic beginning sequence, superb acting performances (especially a heavily underused Peter Dinklage as the misguided Trask) and some unforgettable sequences involving some new and improved mutant-powers, just about covers up a slightly anticlimactic ending that sums up a story that somehow does not fulfil its full potential. Perhaps it just needed that final ambitious push to reach true super-hero greatness.
The movies begins in a gritty and darkly comic-book dystopian backdrop, set in the days of the future, before it inevitably jumps back to the days of future past (which is a rather heavy-handed way of describing any time whatsoever). On the brink of destruction during the final war between humans and mutants, the X-Men, including Magneto and Professor Xavier (didn’t he die?), send Logan back through time to prevent Mystique from killing the inventor of the sentinels, which are adaptive machines programmed to destroy anything even remotely related to mutants. This whole first scene which sets up the first use of time-travel is pretty spectacular and I was astounded by the special effects and inventiveness with the mutant’s cool powers. Unfortunately, I was just as astounded by the similarity of the whole thing to the Matrix, and even more taken back to the Sentinels’ resemblance to the Asgaardian guardian in Thor. But that is soon forgiven as the viewer is thrown back to the 1970s where humour, political intrigue and most importantly, character development are the name of the game.
When a troubled Professor X is forced to free Magento from prison, we are introduced to easily the best character in Quicksilver, captured effortlessly well by Evan Peters. His ability to move faster than the eye can see, matches perfectly with the young actor’s quick wit and delivery, which is a shame because he is quickly taken out of the picture, for no real reason whatsoever, and the much needed levity is lost. In fact, just like a lot of super-hero movies, the longer running time creates a slight stagnation in the middle of the film that seems such a shame given its intriguing and promising start.
This is not to say X-Men DoFP isn’t enjoyable even when its slow, as the excellent casting means there is not one character that looks uncomfortable. Perhaps a new direction at the half way point, outside of variations of the central plot line, could have spiced things up. But as an instalment within the X-Men franchise, its originality cannot be ignored and it blends so much of the ideas and themes of the whole series so well, it is arguably the best yet.
Shapstik Verdict: When it’s not busy reminding you of other science-fiction movies or cementing over holes and paradoxes on Plot Street, X-Men DoFP is easily one of the best super-hero movies to date and the most ambitious of the X-Men franchise. With its classy production, array of great acting performances and its richly varied depiction of timelines, it has more than enough to offer the viewer (or sometimes a little too much in the case of Jackman’s behind). 8/10