X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
Director: Bryan Singer
Cast: Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Ellen Page, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, Nicholas Hoult, Peter Dinklage
Plot: The X-Men send Wolverine to the past in a desperate effort to change history and prevent an event that results in doom for both humans and mutants.
Genre: Action / Adventure / Fantasy
Awards: Nom. for 1 Oscar - Best Visual Effects
Rating: PG13 for sequences of intense sci-fi violence and action, some suggestive material, nudity and language.
IN RETROSPECT (Spoilers: NO)
"You took the things that meant the most to me."
"Maybe you should have fought harder for them."
So many mutants, past and future. They come, they fight. Is it for their cause? Can they alter the future by changing the past? That’s essentially what X-Men: Days of Future Past is about, but of course it far exceeds its basic time travel plot line, proving that a strong focus on characters and story can make a fairly excellent blockbuster.
After the solid reboot X-Men: First Class by Matthew Vaughn in 2011, the inevitable sequel is set up nicely with characters we are somewhat familiar with. Director Bryan Singer once again is at the helm, since he started it all with the first two ‘X-Men’ movies in 2000 and 2003. He proves that he has not lost his touch after the rather disappointing studio movie Jack the Giant Slayer (2013).
Singer will direct X-Men: Apocalypse (2016) next, which is perfect news for fans who have faith in a filmmaker who has always struck some sort of gold with the franchise. Other filmmakers like Brett Ratner, James Mangold and Gavin Hood cannot claim the same with ‘lesser’ movies like X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), The Wolverine (2013) and X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) respectively.
Days of Future Past sees another quest for evolutionary supremacy between mutants and humans, the latter particularly a man named Dr. Trask who has created machines called Sentinels to target mutants for extinction.
The future is dark, and only a few mutants remain alive. Wolverine is desperately sent back in time by the last surviving mutants to convince the younger X-Men to prevent the Sentinels from ever coming to fruition.
The action set-pieces are impressive, sometimes flat-out hilarious, notably one involving new character Whiplash, yet in the end we are more intrigued by the characters and their stories than spectacular entertainment. That is the mark of a blockbuster with substance.
You will be convinced that any inherent plot holes that are a staple of movies involving time travel doesn’t quite matter as much in this movie when it is stacked against the high stakes that arise from its conception. The pacing is also just nice for a film that runs more than two hours.
In retrospect, the casting of Michael Fassbender as Magneto and Jennifer Lawrence as Raven/Mystique in First Class was a masterstroke. They weren’t exactly household names then. Now I can only rejoice in anticipation on how Singer can leverage on their (now) red-hot star qualities to take the franchise to greater heights with the third movie. And I haven’t mentioned Hugh, who may never age.
Verdict: The central focus on story and characters here is commendable in this quite excellent addition to the ‘X-Men’ screen universe.
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