X-Men: Days of Future Past
Score: 8 out of 10
After more than ten years away from the helm, X-Men 1 and 2 director Bryan Singer has returned to the superhero franchise he helped build with X-Men: Days of Future Past, a near flawless example of everything a good summer action movie should be. It easily lives up to the quality of Singer’s genre-defining first two films, complete with a massive cast that unites the old and young versions of all the characters thanks to the magic of time travel.
Days of Future Past begins in a dark and dystopian future when a race of deadly robots called the Sentinels have hunted down and exterminated all but a handful of the heroic mutants, along with most of us regular humans too. Professor Xavier, Magneto, and the rest of the survivors hatch a plan to send Wolverine back in time to 1973 to warn their younger selves and stop their impending doom. There’s plenty of fatalistic drama involving the nature of the characters and whether or not we can change who we’re meant to be, and it all plays out exceptionally well. You can tell that Bryan Singer has the same kind of admiration for the X-Men series that Peter Jackson has for the works of Tolkien. His love for this universe and these characters can be plainly seen on the screen, and it’s nice to know that a filmmaker is enjoying the ride as much as you.
As for the action, Singer and his team manage to come up with some very inventive and memorable set pieces. There’s a very cool sequence involving a stadium, and several big scenes staged around some real historical events. The best new addition to the mutant roster is Quicksilver, a fast running hero who also has the ability to slow down his perception of time. His unique powers make for some truly awesome scenes, including the best one in the film. Evan Peters plays him this time around, and it’s worth pointing out that a different version of the same character will be portrayed by Aaron Taylor-Johnson in next year’s Avengers: Age of Ultron. It remains to be seen if Joss Whedon’s interpretation will be any better, but the ball is squarely in his court.
I don’t want to sound like I’m gushing too much, because Days of Future Past is not a perfect film. There are a few noticeable problems, most notably, how the film works, or rather doesn’t work, with some of the events established in the previous X-Men films. Singer and his writers apparently disregarded some, but not all, of the events in X-Men 3. That might be okay given how terrible that film is, but it’s confusing because they never really explain what is being ignored or why. How is Old Professor X still alive? Why does Old Magneto still have his powers? I’ve asked half a dozen people what their explanations are, and have received half a dozen unique solutions. The fact that it’s never clarified in the film, or even touched upon, is a major distraction that should have been cleared up. Another issue with Days of Future Past is that you must be at least acquainted with the previous X-Men films if you want to know what’s going on. If you go into this cold, you will be lost. Don’t take Grandma, unless Grandma is an X-Men fan.
I’ve heard a few people complain about how this film violates the sacred rules of how time travel works. I’m glad they know what happens in real life when you go backwards and forwards through time, because I’ve never done it myself and neither has anyone else. Until someone does, movies are allowed to make up their own rules because it’s all just make believe anyway.
Make sure you wait through the end credits, because there’s a short sting for X-Men: Apocalypse, due out in 2016.
-Review written by Blake Siefken, follow me on Twitter!