UK Release: May 22nd 2014
Unifying both the current day (if yet old) and present day (if yet new) X-Men franchises, ‘X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST’, (based on the 1980’s Marvel Comic of the same name) marks a new beginning for the longest current running, superhero franchise. With Bryan Singer of ‘X-Men’ 1 and 2, back in the director’s chair, there is keen expectation with how they can bring together the team from them films, to the team from Matthew Vaughan’s (originally set to direct, however get’s a scripting credit with regular co-writer Jane Goldman), 2011 ‘First Class’ prequel. Before we begin its good to note that this film not only has the most impressive cast list in this year’s Summer Blockbuster season, but more so in any superhero film. Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry (underused), Anna Paquin (if yet briefly), Ellen Page, Shawn Ashmore and Fan Bingbing (one of the new mutants here which when part of the old X-Men struggle to register on screen as they haven’t been introduced in the original films) make up the original films contingent. Meanwhile the ‘First Class’ group are made up of James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, and Evan Peters.
From the initially glance of the film story, on paper you start to think very much of 2009’s ‘Star Trek’. Rather using parallel time hoping realities you have straight up time travel, which explains how the ‘First Class’ group are drawn into this film (Wolverine is sent back to the 1970’s to stop the rise of the Sentinels, which the original X-Men in the near future are having problems with). Generally speaking this works well, very much like the 2009 ‘Star Trek’ in a way which respects everything in the past without throwing it away as unimportant (in ‘Star Trek’s case it was the TV series’, in this instance it’s the original ‘X-Men’ trilogy) for the rebooting world they wanting to continue the franchise with. Cynics might think what is the point of all this other than to do that and continue the franchise, however the studio behind it Fox clearly believe in what they are doing by making this the second highest budgeted Fox film in history (behind ‘Avatar’). The thing what I noted from all this is how instead of using it as a way of continuing the franchise, I saw it more capitalising on this superhero team-up aspect everybody is doing these days
With this time travel device, the film does attempt to address some of the continuity issues of the franchise so far in attempt to actively ‘’wrap up’’ some plot points which didn’t add up. One of the better ways of combating this is how they ignore ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’, which did cause some issues when the like of ‘X-Men: First Class’ was released and even ‘The Wolverine’. There is also some nice fan fair with Singer opening title sequence and how him and Simon Kinberg used the (having already established as a character which occupies the time/world of ‘First Class’) idea that its Wolverine’s mind/conscious which has been sent back in time to the body of his older self (which does open to a nice ‘Terminator’ gag). There is some plot holes still though, you never get the idea that as to why Stewart’s Professor X returns to his old wheelchair bound body, why Quicksilver (more on him later) doesn’t join them for all of the film (saying that it would make the mission of stopping the assassination a less dramatic affair) and why Wolverine’s bone claws are metal again, even though it establishes that in ‘The Wolverine’ credit sting that ‘Days of Future Past’ present part happens just after the events of that film. And as always the logic of time travel does break down, which is expected. Still though Simon Kinberg does a better in this then what he did with Brett Ratner’s ‘X-Men: The Last Stand’ (however admittedly a lot of the issues with that film was from studio interference).
Kinberg and Singer do bring very much the template with that of ‘X-Men 2’ with the general plotting of this film, and it’s clear Singer is playing very much to his strengths having been co-writer of the first two as well, making a lot of reference to them films. It’s almost as if all you really need to see if you’re a new audience member is the first two films along with ‘First Class’ to follow the action. This template of ‘X-Men 2’ though is very much evident in Evan Peter’s Quicksilver, a controversial character who is unique that the characters film rights allows him to appear both in the ‘X-Men’ and ‘Avengers’ film franchises (the later being Marvel Studios/Disney, and can be seen played by Aaron Johnson in 2015’s ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’). Basically not only just stealing the film, Quicksilver has very much the Nightcrawler role of ‘X-Men 2’. He is the character which has the best action sequence in the film (like Nightcrawler it revolves around infiltration), and considering the bad publicity stills of this version of the character and internet backlash from it, this is very much the films pleasant surprise and someone you will want to see again in a future instalment (yes there is a after credit sequence in this). Also watch out for the line of dialogue from him regarding his ‘’Mother knowing someone who could bend metal once’’ line.
One of the better parts of Singer and Kinberg’s script is that of making Jennifer Lawrence’s Mysterque the vocal point of the film. Her motives act as the catalyst for the story’s drive and actions, it’s also good to note that she is very much the character which stars in her own scenes, on her own without anyone else around her. The central triangle relationship between her, McAvoy’s Xavier of the past and Fassbender’s Magneto of past is picked up from ‘First Class’ in this, however because the film is having to cover a lot of ground with the two timelines and moving at one hell of a pace nothing seems to really ‘’stick’’, one of which is this emotional triangle between the three, which is a shame. If only it could have stopped and gived it room to breathe. The films antagonist of Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage – fantastic here) motives are never fully explored as well, which is unfortunate.
Generally speaking this certainly leaves the franchise in an interesting state going forward. In this day and age with several superhero properties out there by the Studios it’s almost a game of one-up-man -ship to end their films in a defining manner, and following on with 2014’s earlier superhero films of ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ and ‘Amazing Spider-Man 2’, it certainly has a interesting effect going forward with the franchise. I can imagine come the Blu-Ray release there will be a extended cut of some sorts (the ‘’I’m a Princess’’ gag between Wolverine and a young girl used in the marketing material doesn’t appear in the film and Paquin’s Rogue is nothing more than a cameo if anything). As it is ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ is an entertaining closing and new dawn to the longest running superhero franchise in Hollywood. ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ in 2016 here’s to you……..