This was the summer blockbuster I was most nervous about seeing and with good reason. It has the largest ensemble cast ever assembled, which was a contributing factor to the failure of X-Men: The Last Stand. With so many wonderful actors, would they be given enough time to shine? Would this massive cast hurt the plot and character development, which made X-Men: First Class so successful? Also, director Bryan Singer has had a poor track record since directing X2; Valkyrie, Superman Returns, and Jack the Giant Killer were all critical and financial flops. Having Singer take on the most ambitious X film to date was a huge gamble.
Taking place several years after the events of The Wolverine, the world is under the judgment and authority of the Sentinels. Artificial beings created by Bolivar Trask to counter the mutant threat. The few free mutants left pull a Hail Mary play by transferring Logan’s (Wolverine) consciousness into his body in 1973. He is tasked with bringing Erik (Magneto) and Charles (Professor X) together again to stop the events that will trigger the current dystopian future.
The biggest issue with this film, as with the entire X-Men film franchise, is CONTINUITY, CONTINUITY, and, wait for it, CONTINUITY. The filmmakers are notorious for manipulating events/people from the timeline continuity to suit the current film being made. William Stryker has been portrayed by three different actors throughout these films…he’s old in X2, old once again in First Class and then young in Days of Future Past–this makes absolutely no sense! Despite these glaring inconsistencies, X-Men: Days of Future Past is fantastic and arguably the best X film to date.
This is a very dark and dramatic picture. One of the key themes is trying to correct past mistakes and because of this many consequences and losses occur. Bryan Singer does not shy away from these moments or try to soften the emotional blows with cheap jokes. I was pretty much teary-eyed the majority of the film. Now, there is humor throughout at the perfect moments, executed just as well as Matthew Vaughn did in First Class.
Every single actor brings their A-game, no matter how small their role is. Of course, the ones expected to shine (Sir Patrick Stewart, James McAvoy, Sir Ian McKellen, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, and Hugh Jackman) deliver. The intimate moments between Professor X and Magneto in the prequel are not lost in this picture. The biggest surprise is Evan Peters as Quicksilver. The initial portrait released of him looked terrible and everyone was ready to bash him, but, in the final product, he steals every scene he is in. Sadly, Peter Dinklage’s Trask is probably the most under-developed character. Despite this, he works expertly with what little he has.
Despite some plot holes; the story is really strong. This is most likely due to Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman’s help in developing the story before they departed the project. The focus is not on action, but on the characters and their conflicts within themselves and with others. The plot is neither overly convoluted nor bare bones; it gives the performers room to what they do best – emote. It was such a relief that there was such a perfect balance.
John Ottman’s score perfectly accentuated this film at every step. Scenes such as the past and future Charles exchanging words were made even more iconic with his restrained, potent music. Also, costume designer Louise Mingenbach, who worked with Singer on the first two X-Men films, created wonderful outfits for all the characters. Honestly, her black leather costumes were not that great and I was worried she would develop more mediocre designs. Glad to be proven wrong. Beast’s makeup is better this time around, but Mystique’s tone of blue seemed to be a little too dark.
Of course, there are plenty of cameos in this film that fans will love! Make sure to stay until the very last credit because there is a scene that sets up X-Men: Apocalypse. Bryan Singer is set to direct that one as well and he has earned back his stripes with this opus. I’m willing to give him leeway now. There are two films everyone should see currently: Captain America: the Winter Soldier and X-Men: Days of Future Past. I will stress that there is intense violence, no blood though, so look out for the kids.
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