Film Review: X-Men Days of Future Past (USA, 2014)

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X Men: Days of Future Past focuses heavily on the concept of time travel , and in a similar fashion to the penultimate season of Lost, approaches it with a sense of playful irreverence as we are given something much lighter than the previous X Men installment (First Class).

Mystique plays a central role in Days of Future Past, with Wolverine having to warp back in time – via Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) – to stop her from becoming a lab rat after she assassinates the movie’s antagonist, Peter Dinklage’s Dr Bolivar Trask, whose murder caused Mystique to be used as a template for shape-shifting robot soldiers; soldiers who pretty much win every single time they battle the X-Men.

In order to re-write the robots out of the future, Wolverine is transported to the 70’s; a time where Charles Xavier is once again played by James McAvoy, Nicholas Hault gets ample screen time as Beast, and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) is still a pretty elastic, self-righteous bad guy. The result here is a very eery Terminator-esque race to stop something bad happening, while the current timeline still runs in parallel.

Director Bryan Singer stays true to X-Men being one of the most consistently thoughtful, intelligent, and stylish comic-book adaptations, bringing his flair to make for a movie that never fall below the high standard that the franchise is often held to.

Hugh Jackman reiterated his born-to-play-Wolverine status as he hulks between Magneto and Xavier in an attempt to unite the two against the common threat that is Dinklage’s very well-acted, creepily calm doctor.
Most of the fun stems from the best line-up of mutants an X-Men movie has given us in years; everyone from Quicksilver to Cyclops makes an appearance, the latter played by American Horror Story’s Evan Peters who does quite the job as a snarky teenager overly-confident in his ability to move at the speed of light. One of the film’s stand-out sequences comes via Peters and an incredible slow-motion-fast-motion sequence which has him cleverly turning some would-be X-Men murderers into a bundle of clumsy morons thanks to Xavier’s time-freeze ability.

Another mutant who shines here is Mystique, always playing as a wild card in the franchise. Once again portrayed by Jennifer Lawrence, the silky blue shape-shifter drives much of the action in the film, her attempts to assassinate Trask always being the catalyst for our team of Wolverine, Beast, Magneto, and Xavier to fumble over each other in their eventually united cause.

Fassbender is given a lot of to work with her, and he portrays Magneto very well, keeping that deceptive look about him while he takes it upon himself to stop Mystique in his own, pragmatic way. The chemistry between Fassbender and McAvoy was first established in First Class, and continues to shine, making for some very intelligent, plot-driving sequences which fit nicely around all the crowd-pleasing X-Men action.

Occasional glimpses back into the nightmarish, dystopian future – where mutants like Storm and Kitty Pryde are pretty much screwed – home in on the tension and weight of the 1970’s plot, giving the film a nice little technique to spice things up when the film creeps towards the ending.

Days of Future Past continues that spark in quality storytelling, raising the bar even higher than the excellent First Class and reaffirming Bryan Singer as a true champion of the X-Men film adaptations. And with the ominous post-credit look into what could possibly be in store for X Men: Apocalypse in 2016, things are look very bright for this colourful, intelligent, and entertaining franchise.

Review Score: FOUR AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Runtime: 132 Minutes

X-Men: Days of Future Past is currently screening cinemas nation-wide