As we are getting closer and closer to the release of Logan, we are taking a look at every X-Men feature film to date! Today, it’s time for Days of Future Past, the fifth entry in the main franchise, which plays with alternate timelines and mix the mutants we’ve loved in previous flicks with their younger selves, those from the recently-reviewed First Class. Sounds rather interesting, doesn’t it? Let’s get started!
Days of Future Past is the return of Bryan Singer to directing the X-Men franchise after eleven years away from that task. Taking into account my favourite movies in the franchise so far have been those directed by Singer, I was eagerly looking forward to watching this one. He surely knows how to properly direct gigantic projects, and that really shows in this film. He has created a very rich experience, full of interesting story-telling and enjoyable action sequences that will delight fans of the franchise and newbies alike. But we’ll talk about that later, let’s discuss the plot now.
The first time Mystique (Jenniffer Lawrence) killed, in 1973, she was captured, and her DNA was used to analyse how her mutations worked. That investigation led to the creation of machines designed to kill mutants 50 years later, which started a war against them, a war that would end up destroying mankind itself. To avoid that, the X-Men, led by Professor Xavier and Magneto (Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen) send Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) to the past, where he will meet the young versions of his friends and try to stop Mystique.
It sounds way more complicated that what it really is, as the story is told very clearly thanks to a sharp script that avoids exposition-heavy scenes throughout. It is a very compelling screenplay, too: every line has something to be interesting, it seems there are no dull lines! The characters are incredibly written, and the conflicts among them kept me on the edge of my seat, there are some very intense moments in Days of Future Past. The overall pacing is great too, as there isn’t a single empty moments, but every beat comes at the right time, without feeling rushed. Add the humour splashes it has here and there, which work wonderfully, and you end up with the best X-Men script to date. Okay, maybe that doesn’t say all that much, but trust me, it is truly great.
The cast, oh, what a cast! Every actor does such a great job at portraying their characters, it seems they were written just for them. The majority of the film happens during the 1970s, so we don’t really have a chance to see Stewart or McKellen for a long time, unfortunately. However, the little time they are on screen their performances are on point. Man, I can’t wait to see Stewart in Logan! The same thing happens with Ellen Page, whose portrayal of Kitty Pryde is fantastic albeit her few short appearances. No surprises with Jackman this time around either, he is the Wolverine we know and love, being as awesome as he always is.
The younger versions of these mutants are taken to a new level with Singer’s directing work. Lawrence’s Mystique has more depth and is more believable than ever, McAvoy does an amazing job as a young Professor Xavier dealing with drugs and moral difficulties… the highlight could be Michael Fassbender’s Magneto, though, as his performance is even better than the one he gave in First Class. Intense and full of subtleties that make him a relatable and understandable person despite his questionable morals. I love how he isn’t just a super-villain with crazy plans. Peter Dinklage joins the cast as the villain in the movie, and his work is pretty good, even if his character doesn’t let him shine the way he can. Finally, let’s talk about Quicksilver. Portrayed by Evan Peters, this mutant was a pleasant addition to the cinematic universe of X-Men, as it is a hilarious character. His slow-motion sequence is absolutely amusing! I really hope this character gets more depth and a more important role in future flicks.
It’s quite surprising how well Days of Future Past works as an introduction piece for those young mutants, which makes me wonder why they decided to make the prequel first, instead of starting with this story to then tell others. It solves some of the problems I had with that film too, as the location of the movie (or rather, the point in time in which the events happen) are conveyed through the scenery, script and, more importantly, through the beautiful cinematography it boasts.
I found it quite disappointing the step backwards it takes from The Wolverine in terms of the action, however. Yes, the action looks terrific. Yes, the special effects are unbelievable and CGI looks great. Yes, it is crazy entertaining. But it has lost the beauty, the stylised look that fights had in The Wolverine. Shots are back to being quite short (I wouldn’t say the cuts are too quick, though), and even if some new and refreshing ideas are thrown in, such as tiny fractions of slow-motion during one of the first fights, it doesn’t look as beautiful as the previous X-Men flick.
All in all, Days of Future past is a terrific entry in the X-Men saga, which can be really entertaining for those who have never watched a mutant movie before. But more importantly, it’s a film packed with references and jokes that the most seasoned viewers will love. It seems that the new timeline it creates is going to be very prolific, and I can’t wait to know more about it. 8/10