The younger cast members are the most redeeming quality in this predictable film with characters whose mutant powers are more well written than their moral complexities. However, despite its flaws, X-Men Days of Future Past is still a fun ride that the whole family can enjoy.
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ½
In the latest X-men installment, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellen) send Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back in time to the 1970s to change the past in hope of preventing their impending doom. If Wolverine can convince their younger selves, (James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender respectively) to stop Raven / Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from killing Dr Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) then this will ensure that an army of mutant-detecting robots called Sentinels will not declare war on all mutants and their sympathisers in the future. Raven / Mystique believes that in killing Trask, the creator of the Sentinels, that she will be able to protect her fellow mutants, but instead this single act will allow Trask’s followers to capture her and use her DNA to make the Sentinels capable of taking on mutant abilities, and therefore able to destroy the X-Men. Due to Wolverine’s healing capabilities he is the only one who is able to send his conscious back to his younger self in the 1970s in order to influence these events.
As I mentioned in my Captain America: The Winter Soldier review, I am not exactly a fan of super hero films. I suppose technically the X-Men aren’t really super heroes, they just have super hero-like powers, but nevertheless, I have always categorised the X-Men films alongside that of Iron Man, Spiderman, Batman and various other “man” titled “save the world” type films. The cult following of these films has always baffled me as no matter what situation or circumstances a writer of these films dreams up, we always know how it is going to end; good will defeat evil, and there will perhaps be a hint of evil returning in the future so that a sequel can be made if the film is adequately successful. Considering this; how can people possibly go back to the cinemas over and over again to see the same resolution time after time? Don’t people get bored of this? It bores me just thinking about it. I guess you could argue that it is a love of these characters that gets these people to consistently cough up 20 odd dollars for the same old experience, or maybe it’s the anticipation of being able to see even more impressive action sequences and special effects than seen in the last film? Either way, I just don’t get it.
Now that I have that off my chest, I have to admit that despite my inability to understand the appeal of super hero movies, I found this latest X-Men film to be rather enjoyable. I begrudgingly went into the cinema with a frown on my face and my expectations sitting at below zero, and for the first 15 minutes of the film I was barely paying attention as the over-the-top, apocalyptic action sequence played out. However, once the film diverted to the 1970s and James McAvoy took up the screen, I suddenly found myself sitting up a little higher in my chair. Then in came Evan Peters as Quicksilver, J-Law, Peter Dinklage and Mr Fassbender, and it was as if I was watching an entirely different film. Yes, there were plenty of cheesy moments, particularly one in which James McAvoy and Patrick Stewart have a conversation as the same character at different life stages, and several preposterous ones, including the actions of the young Magneto toward the end of the film, but I still found the film to be very entertaining.
The dialogue may have been a bit cringe-worthy at times, but I thought that the plot was very cleverly constructed. Although the future is altered in this film, and therefore also many of the events that we have previously seen in other X-Men films, this latest film does illustrate how the lives of the mutants have changed as a result of Wolverine going back in time. Everything seems to add up perfectly, perhaps a little too perfectly, but I was impressed by how so many loose ends were tied up because the film contains a ridiculous number of characters with intricately interwoven lives. I felt as though the writers left no stone unturned and made sure that the audience clearly understood the logic of how each character had progressed from the past in the 1970s, to the apocalyptic future and now to the new version of the future. In addition to this, the film also makes a few subtle nods to its predecessors, such as through the appearance of a young Major Stryker who we know will go on to turn Wolverine’s skeleton into adamantium as depicted in X-Men Origins: Wolverine… or will he now…? *dun dun dunnnnnnn*
So, yes, this is a predictable film with characters whose mutant powers are more well written than their moral complexities, but it is a fun ride that the whole family can enjoy. I have heard both positive and negative responses from the followers of the X-Men series and from what they have said it is clear to me that it really comes down to your mindset when you go to view this film. Don’t go in with inflated expectations. Try to remain neutral and just sit back and allow yourself to be entertained.
Images courtesy of 20th Century Fox