Film Review: ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ (spoiler-free)

Starring:  Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Evan Peters, Peter Dinklage, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen

Directed by:  Bryan Singer / Written by:  Simon Kinberg (story by Jane Goldman, Simon Kinberg & Matthew Vaughan) / 131 minutes

What’s it about?

In a war torn future where mutants are being hunted to extinction by robotic ‘Sentinels’, the surviving X-Men send Wolverine back in time to the year 1973 to change the course of history…

In review

Following the surprise hit of the rather excellent prequel X-Men: First Class, X-Men: Days of Future Past is an assured entry in 20th Century Fox’s X-Men film franchise – bolstered by director Bryan Singer’s return to the series.

Based on the classic Chris Claremont comic book story (itself adapted for the 1990s X-Men animated series), Days of Future Past successfully melds the X-Men cinematic universe into a relatively cohesive whole by neatly combining the casts of the original X-Men trilogy and First Class to provide an ambitious slice of comic book film entertainment with some laudable dramatic weight.

With the narrative set-up by the film’s opening Terminator-esque dystopia, the bulk of DoFP takes place in 1973 with Wolverine (the ever reliable Jackman) on a mission to prevent Raven/Mystique (The Hunger Games’s Lawrence) from assassinating Dr. Bolivar Trask (Dinklage) – creator of the future mutant-slaying Sentinels.  To do so, he must unite a withdrawn and despondent Charles Xavier (a suitably dishevelled McAvoy) with former friend and ally Erik Lensher (Fassbender) – aka Magneto.

With DoFP, Kinberg delivers a much stronger narrative than X-Men: The Last Stand, no doubt assisted by his collaboration on the film’s story with First Class director Matthew Vaughan and screenwriter Jane Goldman.  There’s a lot to take in given the scope of the story and the plethora of characters yet DoFP remains relatively focused and its slow-burn approach allows the viewer to keep up with proceedings.  It’s also notable that just as First Class neatly incorporated Cold War zeitgeist into the comic book universe, DoFP also ties in with real-world events and concerns, at least, as they were in 1973.

The franchise is once again lead confidently by Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine but that’s not to say others are side-lined.  McAvoy and Fassbender continue where they left off in First Class and make use of every opportunity to develop the complexities of their characters’ relationship and Lawrence bring us a more intense version of Raven given the character’s significant role in the story.

The film’s biggest surprise though is Evan Peters who provides a healthy dose of levity and fun via his performance as Peter Maximoff/Quicksilver but unfortunately the excellent Peter Dinklage is hindered by lack of exposure and character development and a missed opportunity to deliver a truly compelling villain.

Although Ellen Page’s role of Kitty Pride isn’t significantly larger than it was in The Last Stand it’s at least functional and as with Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen’s appearance as the elder Xavier and Magneto (respectively), is key to the story.  There are of course many cameos from X-Men past and present (some surprising, some not so much) and to name-check everyone would probably require a post of its own.

Despite the film’s darker themes there’s still a healthy dose of fun and humour, mainly via those sequences where Wolverine, Xavier and Beast (Hoult) team up with Quicksilver to ‘liberate’ an imprisoned Magneto.  There are also numerous pleasing nods and winks to the X-Men universe that will provide fans with endless delight.

The film’s exciting climax is a showdown of epic proportions (and oddly reminiscent of Iron Man 2) that provides dramatic as well as visual punch, wisely saving the best of the film’s action until last.

DoFP is a HUGE film in terms of casting, design and narrative scope and luckily Bryan Singer (already attached to X-Men: Apocalypse, due for release in 2016) once again proves his abilities to handle such a production with skill and precision.  It’s a welcome and triumphant return for the director who seems to have fallen from grace since his decision to exit the franchise in favour of helming the divisive Superman Returns.

So, is DoFP the best X-Men film yet?  Well, no, whilst it may sit comfortably more-or-less on equal footing with First Class, X2 easily still wears that crown.  Those expecting an indisputable rectification of continuity errors between the original X-Men and the Frist Class universes may be disappointed that DoFP raises more questions than it answers but the end result is an effective marriage of dramatic, cerebral storytelling with strong cast performances and epic action set-pieces that points to a bright future for X-Men on the big screen.

The bottom line:  With Days of Future Past, the X-Men film franchise continues to prove its worth amongst the current slew of comic book blockbusters.  It’s a pleasing and bold entry in the series that will raise anticipation for future instalments.

X-Men: Days of Future Past is in cinemas now.

What are your thoughts on X-Men: Days of Future Past?  Leave your spoiler-free comments below!

X-cellent entertainment from 20th Century Fox with 'X-Men: Days of Future Past'.

X-cellent entertainment from 20th Century Fox with ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’.

7 thoughts on “Film Review: ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ (spoiler-free)

  1. Good review. I liked the film, I mean I have some problems from a total comic nerd point of view but yeah its good.

    The visuals and 70’s timeline worked really well and the acting was really good. Quicksilver steals the show.

    This wasnt greatness but Apocalypse might 😀

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