Length: 131 minutes
Writers: Simon Kinberg, Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn
Director: Bryan Singer
I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to see a film and enjoy everything about it. For me, this is an extremely rare occurrence… but then again I’m a deeply jaded and cynical movie-goer at heart so that’s to be expected. But honestly, I struggle to think of any legitimate criticism for X-men: Days of Future Past (apart from the wanton disregard for grammar in the title). It’s really a genuinely good film and I recommend that you go and see it. Multiple times.
I think the thing that most impresses me about DOFP (bad acronym) is the sheer scale of the movie; this was no small undertaking. The film has a relatively complex time-travelling plot featuring two large casts from (ostensibly) different imaginations of the same long running franchise – a cast including Hollywood heavy-hitters like James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Hugh Jackman and Jennifer Lawrence – not to mention BFFs 4eva and knights of the realm Sirs Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan. And as if that wasn’t enough, the movie actively retcons some of the worst films in the franchise (and, arguably, the world) rendering them null and void. What more could you want?!
The dual narrative is impressively handled throughout, switching back and forth between the First Class crew in the 1970s setting and the ‘original’ X-men from the first films in the post-apocalyptic hell hole. There are a lot of plates spinning during the movie and, amazingly, none of them drop during its two hour runtime.
I won’t delve too much into the story here (mostly because it would take far too long) but as a brief summary; humanity has essentially been enslaved by the hyper-advanced Sentinels – robots that were designed to hunt and kill mutants and then turned on humans – with the original X-men doing everything in their powers to stop them. It becomes apparent, however, that the mutants can never win as the Sentinels have the ability to adapt to their powers. They therefore decide to send one of their number back in time (as you do) to reunite younger Xavier with younger Magneto and change the future for the better (which turns out to be easier said than done). Guess who they decide to send back.
Yes, once again Hugh Jackman plays the pivotal role of Wolverine, the character around whom the whole X-men universe and the films narrative is draped like a damp shower curtain. There’s nothing wrong with this incidentally; Wolverine has always been the main character of the film franchise and the majority of it (with the exception of First Class) is pretty much told through his eyes. I have the vague notion that this differs from the comic book story arc, but this decision is a good one; it makes far more sense in the context of the movie to have him in that role.
I think one of the main reasons why this works in DOFP is that Wolverine is actually pretty rubbish throughout, what with his bone claws and all. This is a good thing. Far too often has Wolverine been unstoppable badass action hero; it’s great to see him do something other than (to borrow a phrase) have harrowing visions of his origin and have to talk his way out of trouble. There is one scene that is slightly contrived in so much that they have to think of a reason for him to not kick the crap out of everything (as is his usual thing) but it generally works well.
Acting wise, absolutely everyone is on top form, and considering the size of the cast this is pretty impressive. The film focuses more on McAvoy and Fassbender than anyone else, although everyone generally gets a decent amount of screen time and character development. This is especially true for Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique/Raven whose character arc is, arguably, central to the plot. Peter Dinklage is brilliantly menacing as Bolivar Trask and special mention should be made to the returning cast of both First Class and the original X-men movies who all give decent performances.
One thing that I was worried about is how they were going to portray the character of Quicksilver. When I saw pictures of him in promo material dressed entirely in silver, I confess that I didn’t have high hopes. Thankfully though, my fears were misplaced; Quicksilver just works and gets one stand-out scene in the movie, which may actually be the best sequence in the whole film. Does beg the question of ‘why don’t you take the speedy guy with you? He’s awesome and would probably be really helpful with literally everything you’re trying to do’ but that’s just nit-picking really. There is just enough of him in the film, the character doesn’t overstay his welcome.
It’s reassuring to me that there are studios out there who are willing to take Marvel on at their own game; to take risks and do something new with their material. X-men: DOFP (really bad acronym) was a big risk, but it definitely pays off. I think I enjoyed it more than any Marvel film I’ve seen, and that is saying something.