The X-men movie franchise has now been going 14 years. We’ve seen some of our favourite mutants, and the favourite mutant, go from one movie in 2000 through two more to make it into a trilogy, then back to make a Wolverine Origins movie, then back again for the X-Men First Class, leap all the way forward for Wolverine and now, Days of Future Past, which is in all places at once.
The timelines make sense. A cynical person could say it’s because the franchise began before the superhero movie became fashionable, so it wasn’t really planned (evidenced by the amount of character recasting and redesigns). A fan, such as myself, would say that it actually reflects the comic books where anything is a given, timelines change all the time and at some point they even end up in space (where, apparently, all superheroes end up at some point).
Directed by the original X-Men director, Bryan Singer, Days of Future Past stars our favourite mutants from throughout the franchise. We start in the future, where sentinels, programmed to kill mutants and humans who have the mutant gene, have all but destroyed civilisation. There are only a few mutants left. Thankfully they include Logan/Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), Charles Xavier/Professor X (Patrick Stewart), Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto (Ian McKellen), Storm (Halle Berry) and Kitty Pryde/Shadowcat (Ellen Page), as well as some other memorable faces. Kitty has also discovered her talent for time travel, although rather than sending herself back as in the comics, it seems she can only send others back. Which is lucky for us.
Xavier and Magneto have pinpointed the incident that started the world down the path of the sentinels, and so Logan, being the only one who can heal as fast as time travel will break him, is sent back to the ‘70s to prevent that incident from happening. There, he must convince a broken Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and criminal Erik (Michael Fassbender), along with Hank/Beast (Nicholas Hoult), to help him stop Raven/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), everyone’s favourite morphing mutant, from killing scientist and sentinel creator Dr Trask (Peter Dinklage), thereby giving her DNA to the scientists, making the sentinels basically indestructible.
And he must do it before the sentinels find and kill everyone in the future.
Phew! Still with me?
As you can imagine, Days of Future Past is a little bit complex, but it works. It’s actually very clever, the way the film flips from past to future in an easy to follow and emotive way. Not only have the writers managed to make all of this easily understandable, but they even manage to further develop our favourite characters. A lot has happened since we last saw young Charles, Erik and Raven, and these story arcs fit in beautifully. Another important fact is that you don’t have to have seen the previous X-Men films to understand it, although it might help to know the characters. Everything is explained.
While all of the acting is brilliant, certain characters naturally come to the forefront. It is wonderful that Raven/Mystique is given so much more credit and manoeuvrability than she was in previous X-Men films when played by Rebecca Romijn. In the comics, Mystique is a force to be reckoned with. One of the most powerful mutants because of her ability to change appearance and mimic anyone, as well as her fierce intelligence. She was never given much freedom before, not until First Class, and in Days of Future Past she comes into her own. Lawrence plays her beautifully and you can see the formidable woman that she will become.
That’s not the say that there weren’t some disappointments. The film felt a little long at one point, although I can’t say why. There isn’t necessarily ever a dull moment, but for some reason it lost my interest for just long enough.
The ending is wonderful for any fans and made me grin rather embarrassingly. However the closing scene left me a little deflated and confused. What does this mean for Logan’s timeline? And why it is still considered shocking that someone should appear with Mystique’s eyes?
Peter Dinklage (our beloved Tyrion, from Game of Thrones) is among those amazing actors I mentioned, however his character felt a little flat. There is only one scene where we are given a glimpse into his mind and backstory, but that is quickly snatched away. You are left not feeling much for him, which is a great shame. He’s certainly not the villain, that is and always will be Magneto, but he is supposed to be the antagonist. Not enough was given on his motivations or what he had at stake, which is a great shame.
On the other hand, we were introduced to a new mutant, Peter Maximoff/Quicksilver (Evan Peters). Peter stole the show, or at least wrestled with Raven to steal the show. This incarnation of the comic book’s arrogant, speedy son of Magneto is an arrogant, teenage, punky, kleptomaniac. There are some nice moments for the fans (such as when Peter tells Eric that his mother told him his father could manipulate metal – funny that), while still bringing new life and originality to the character.
This did bring up a problem for me, however. Quicksilver completely stole my attention, I was riveted by him. It may interest you, if you don’t already know, that the character is also due to appear in The Avengers 2: Age of Ultron. Despite living in the same Marvel universe, The Avengers and X-Men franchises are owned by different production companies, and while the news of Quicksilver appearing in both films sparked wonderful suggestions that we would finally get a cross over, this isn’t to be. Quicksilver in the Avengers sequel will be played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson and images of his Quicksilver have since been released online.
It seems the Avengers’ Quicksilver will be quite different to X-Men’s, which could cause concern in anyone who is a fan of both franchises (me), especially if they happen to be rather fascinated with the X-Men’s Quicksilver (me). Still, Age of Ultron is once again being written and directed by demi-god Joss Whedon and in Whedon we trust.
Whatever happens with the Avengers next year, I want more of Peters’ Quicksilver, and it seems I will get it. A sequel is already in the works as X-Men: Apocalypse, due in 2016 (stay to the end of the credits to get a glimpse – it seems 20th Century Fox is learning from the Avengers franchise).
Fresh from watching Days of Future Past, which is a brilliant film, one of the best X-Men films despite missing something I just can’t put my finger on, I would like to request to Mr Singer, who is once again directing, that we have more of Page’s Kitty and Peters’ Quicksilver, not to mention Lawrence, McAvoy, Fassbender, Stewart, McKellen, Jackman (obviously)…oh hell, just bring them all back!
Jump on over to my business blog to check out Captain America and the real super soldiers (I tried very hard not to talk all about Bucky Barnes, despite being rather in love, but a few pictures crept in…)