Published on May 22nd, 2014 | by Tim Cooper
X-Men: Days Of Future Past (3D) – Film Review
Reviewed by Tim Cooper on May 19th, 2014
Fox presents a film by Bryan Singer
Produced by Lauren Shuler Donner, Todd Hallowell, Stan Lee, Josh McLaglen, Bryan Singer
Written by Simon Kinberg
Starring: Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence and Patrick Stewart
Music by John Ottman
Cinematography: Newton Thomas Sigel
Editing: John Ottman
Running Time: 131mins
Release Date: May 22nd, 2014
The X-Men comic characters have been a winning film franchise since slashing through theatres in 2000. It has also been an adored comic book series for Marvel since the sixties. Director Bryan Singer took a more realistic and sleek approach to the colourful comic characters and it proved to be a hit. X-Men: Days of Future Past is his latest foray into the mutant world and this time he has some new recruits, well technically their old recruits, meeting new recruits from the future. Yes, time travel is a big part of X-Men: Days of Future Past and that might have a few people squirming in their seats. Let’s try and be honest with each other here though. When you have an indestructible man with claws fighting next to a furry blue mutant you should probably throw most common sense out the door. This is the best and probably only way to enjoy this film for non comic book film fans. For fans of the films there’s a lot here to enjoy and you may even be pleasantly surprised.
When Singer (currently under incredible scrutiny for reasons best left to the news and tabloids) handed over the reins of X-Men: The Last Stand to Brett Ratner, fans were left with the final and worst addition to a fairly competent trilogy. Killing off leads and emphasising stories suited to mere subplots drove the third film and the franchise into the ground. The franchise then had new life with X-Men: First Class (2011). Directed by Mathew Vaughn it brought a new cast of mutants and a few familiar faces from the earlier days of the swinging sixties. Supported by grounded performances and the strong presence of James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence the film breathed new life into the franchise.
Days of Future Past starts out after Last Stand and things have gotten grim. It is a dark future ruled by mutant power absorbing Sentinels. Targeting both mutants and humans alike, Sentinels are unstoppable Terminator-esque killing machines. Future (or current depending on how you want to look at it) Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellen) combine forces to send Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back to the sixties change the course of history by stopping the creation of the original sentinel by the hands of Doctor Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklange). It’s a bit over the top but all part of a day’s work for the Uncanny X-Men. If fact it’s a vintage X-Men styled plot. Does anyone remember in the X-Men: Animated Series when Professor X and Magneto travelled back in time to the Jurassic era? This is almost as ludicrous. With their latest outing your X-Mates also bring plenty more pals along for the ride. It is a welcome sight to see more super heroes fighting alongside your favourites, though many are not featured as much as fans would want.
Finally we see Iceman (Shawn Ashmore) unleash a little more than an Icey Pole. Blink (Bingbing Fan) makes a vital appearance by maximising her powers to send Wolverine back in time. It’s strange that Bishop (Omar Sky) who has the ability to time travel isn’t the mutant to do this and this may have some fan boys/girls up in arms. Colossus (Daniel Cudmore) is back to crack metal fists on human heads. Beast, Magneto, Storm, Mystique and more are also jammed into this power packed mutant movie. Anna Paquin’s role is so miniscule she shouldn’t even be on the bill. In previous X-Men films Wolverine and Mystique have remained the most entertaining characters but Days of Future Past offers up some great scene stealing scenes from Quicksilver (Evan Peters). One brilliantly constructed action scene almost steals the films and it’s hilarious to boot. It is during scenes like this the element 3D shines. Not so effectively that it will convert strict 2D viewers. Mutant powers and debris look very lively in the third dimension but the action sequences will be just as interesting without the extra price tag and silly looking glasses.
The production design of the film is polished but accurate. Perhaps missing a little dirt and grit in favour of studio perfection the scenes in the sixties look fantastic and are lit at times with a bizarrely Kubrick type black and white palette. Despite a fast paced action sequence at the beginning of the film, the future set scenes remain lifeless with a seen-it-all-before design approach. Reminiscent of James Cameron’s multiple science fiction epics, these future timeline scenes fail to really impress on the grand scale they should.
The acting from the main cast is sufficient and broody (we are looking at you James McAvoy and Hugh Jackman) but the supporting cast falls right into the background. Despite their dazzling powers their on screen presence does not spark as much excitement. Brian Singer keeps this incredibly over the top film reasonably under control and doesn’t cut too much between the two casts. Thankfully so because the sixties set action is where the entertainment and more involving characters are. Music of the era is used to great effect and the action is genuinely thrilling and exciting to watch. At times action is blended with an almost Zapruda film like quality in a risky and slightly obvious style choice that fortunately pays off. The comedic moments, mostly involving Wolverine adapting back to the sixties, are handled very well and his confrontation with Beast (Nicholas Hoult) is one for the fans. It is at the end Days of Future Past crumbles in pace and audience interest. Getting too grandiose for its own good and unfortunately mimicking the terrible Last Stand in dangerous ways, the film is victim to its own extreme nature. While not ruining the blockbuster fun by any means it is a disappointment that studios still believe the bigger the bang the better the film. As with The Amazing Spider-Man 2 a more subtle ending would have really helped the film really elevate above its ever growing comic book peers.
X-Men: Days of Future Past is not the mess a lot of people are saying it is but it’s not a game changer for the comic book film genre either. The film does continue on the more refreshed scale of First Class and succeeds in combining the two casts together for the most part. Days of Future Past will please fans of the X-Men: Animated Series and of the previous films but not so much the die-hard comic book fans. The latest film in this Marvel franchise is polished and entertaining but the big finish formula degrades the film in many more ways than one.
Summary: The latest film in this Marvel franchise is polished and entertaining.