Review: X-Men: Days of Future Past
Back in 2000, Bryan Singer paired with Fox Studios to release a new superhero film named X-Men. At the time, it was coming off of the release of Batman vs Robin which made the public believe that comic book films were coming to an end. Singer's work on X-Men not only made comic book films a big thing, but he did so in making the larger then life characters sympathetic and kept them grounded in reality. It would be incredibly difficult for an audience to buy into characters running around in colorful spandex fighting the fights that we cannot, it would come across tacky. Singer paved the way for other films that followed but now when we think of X-Men we think of what great potential it has and how the studio has failed to delivery on that potential. Ever since Singer left the franchise to do his passion project in Superman Returns, X-Men has been in a steady downfall but since the release of X-Men: First Class in 2011, it seemed to be getting on the right track again. Now, with the inevitable sequel to First Class and with audiences being generally more accepting of a wider cinematic universe thanks to the success of The Avengers, Singer returned to his directing chair to right the wrongs of the franchise while also creating quite possibly the most compelling and entertaining X-Men film to date.
The plot picks up in the future where we see a much different world then the world we live in now. The government had created robotic monsters known as Sentinels tasked with the job to eradicate the mutants. Only a few survive and their last option is to use Kitty Pryde's (Ellen Page) ability to phase shift Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back into his younger self to stop this future from every happening. In the 70's, Wolverine must become a mentor with a distraught Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) in a race against time to stop Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from killing the creator of the Sentinels, Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage). In the meantime, in order to stop the future from taking place, Charles will also have to put aside his differences with his old friend Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender).
As I previously stated, I believe this to be the most compelling and entertaining X-Men film to date. It is a hard thing to do considering it is such a bold film that features time traveling and a meeting of the original trilogy and the new. The future timeline manages to give the closure that it very much needed due to the failures of X-Men: The Last Stand, while the past timeline manages to move the characters along at a faster pace into what they are supposed to become. Most would say First Class was the origin film for Magneto, and this is definitely the origin film for Professor X. The script and direction of this film is masterful, and it has to be considering how much it is juggling around. There is so much character development between Charles overcoming his demons, and even Mystique becoming the villain we remember her to be instead of the little girl who didn't know her path. Aside from that, the fact that First Class and now this film is also set in real American history also lends to add credibility to the film, and not just credibility but an increased amount of tension as the stakes seem higher and higher.
The film also benefits from terrific performances from everyone. Michael Fassbender as Magneto, as we all learned from First Class, is truly the perfect casting choice for the part. He manages to be someone that you can oddly find yourself rooting for even when he is the most intimidating and the most violent person on screen. James McAvoy also portrays the more broken Charles Xavier very well. It is a bit jarring to see him in a completely different place as in the previously film, he got off on his abilities a bit. He enjoyed what he could do but ultimately he wanted to help people. However, when he lost everything, he lost his ability to care and that loss of hope is where McAvoy shines through. It is a bit heartbreaking due to emotional weight that his performance carries. The chemistry between Fassbender and McAvoy also lend themselves to having some of the best scenes in the entire film. Hugh Jackman, as always, he is Wolverine. However, this time instead of being the one breaking down doors and being a bit of a brute, he has to act with a bit of finesse to help guide Charles into the person he is supposed to be. Thus, it is interesting to see Jackman portray another different side of his character. The other star of the show would be that of Jennifer Lawrence. We all know her to be a gifted actress, but we rarely saw that skilled assassin villain side of her in First Class and this time around it was on full display. She truly has great range as this marks the first time she plays someone who isn't a good person and yet she adds so many different layers to the character due to her ability as an actress. The surprise of the film comes in the form of the most ridiculed character leading up to the film in Quicksilver. Quicksilver is written and portrayed perfectly by Evan Peters and the few scenes he is in are rather memorable. All in all, thus far I'd say this is easily the best film of the summer and up there with Captain America: The Winter Soldier as the best film of the year.