Charles and Eric’s X-cellent Adventure
[pullquote cite=”” type=”left, right”][amazon text=Amazon&template=carousel&chan=That Film Guy&asin=B00KF8F6PG][/pullquote] Loosely based on the beloved comic book series of the same name, Days of Future Past introduces the elements of time travel into the already convoluted timeline of the X-Men. Cleverly uniting the cast of the original trilogy with those depicted in X-Men: First Class, the film boasts one of the biggest and most impressive casts around. While almost everyone gets at least something to do, the main focus falls upon Jackman’s Wolverine, Lawrence’s Mystique and Fassbender and McAvoy’s Magneto and Professor X.
In a future timeline mutants and humans alike are hunted by huge robots called sentinels. As members of the X-Men team are killed off, old foes Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellen) unite in a plan to send Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back in time to convince their younger selves (James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender) to put aside their differences and unite to stop the construction of the sentinels by Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) and his assassination at the hands of Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) before it’s too late.
For fans of the comic book and the 90s cartoon, Days of Future Past is the first installment in the franchise that really feels like a proper X-Men film. From the outset the vision of the future timeline is suitably dark and terrible. Recognisable characters appear in brief glimpses before being wiped out, brought back, eradicated and forgotten. It starts a trend of throwing out Easter egg appearances throughout the film that will make fans squeal with delight.
The shifting timeline moves into the 70s and the First Class generation. Aside from the fashions and notable politicians, this is a decade that is far more technologically advanced than in reality. Aside from the anachronistic foibles, the film cleverly brings the audience up to speed with the missing decade in the lives of the X-Men through newspaper snippets, news casts and general conversation.
Wolverine’s mission forms the basis of the narrative thrust, but there is a sense that this is just as importantly an exercise in rewriting the convoluted timelines from the franchise. We’re looking at you here Brett Rattner. In a move that will likely bring the X-Men fans who were lost after the end of that debacle, we finally seem to have one coherent timeline.
Strangely the weakest elements revolve around the need for such ludicrous suspension of disbelief. Not in the facts that there are super-powered mutants, or giant robots in the 1970s, but rather the motivation for major characters to do the things they do. So unbalanced are the characters of Mystique and Magneto that it becomes almost unbearable to watch what they choose to do next. For two such apparently smart characters they really do make some very stupid choices.
Fortunately Fassbender, Lawrence, McAvoy and Jackman are such a charismatic leading foursome that you can forgive them these moments of seeming insanity. Jackman especially hasn’t been this good as Logan for years and appears to have regained the rage and comedy that underpinned his first two performances as the legendary character.
But these moments can easily be forgiven because you know you’re only minutes away from the awesome newcomer Blink (Bingbing Fan) throwing up a purple portal or Quicksilver (Evan Peters) zipping in and out of shot. He really proves his detractors absolutely wrong by being the most entertaining new character. In fact his quick-slow-motion takedown of a group of guards not only equals Nightcrawler’s White House assault from X2, but leaves it in his dust.
On this evidence Bryan Singer’s break from the franchise has done him wonders and his direction does for Days of Future Past what Whedon did for The Avengers. It’s not quite on a par with that exemplary comic book film, but it’s not as far away as you might expect. The wait for X-Men: Apocalypse begins now. Frankly it can’t come soon enough.