Director: Bryan Singer
Starring: Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellan, Halle Berry, Nicholas Hoult, Ellen Page, Peter Dinklage
Written by: (also story) Simon Kinberg, (story) Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn
Running Time: 131 mins
Release date: 22nd May 2014
The X-Men movies have always been more than just another smash ’em up Superhero franchise. They have a lot more depth, emotion and a deep-rooted message about fearing those who are different. Not that they don’t offer the fair share of action and adventure but they don’t just rely on it. So it was great to see that Bryan Singer, returning to the series after an absence of two films, has continued where the other films left off (apart from Brett Ratner’s messy The Last Stand) and has given us an intelligent drama with action and not vice versa.
The future. Mutants are being wiped out by giant robots called Sentinels, creatures that can defend themselves from mutant attacks. Professor X, Magneto, Storm, Wolverine and the last mutants are held up in China, waiting for their doom when an idea springs up in which Wolverine must go back to the past, with the help of clairvoyant Kitty Pride, and with help from past Professor X must stop the designer of the Sentinels from capturing the DNA of Mystique, and getting past Magneto to work with them.
It was always going to be a hard act to follow after Matthew Vaughn’s excellent entry, X-Men: First Class but Singer is so familiar with this world and he did direct the best of the series, X2, that he seemed the right man for the job and he terrific job he has done. He could have given us a non-stop action thrill ride but instead has given us character development, even with well-worn members of the team, like Wolverine. He’s also inter-weaved the world that he created and Vaughn’s new upstarts and it all works brilliantly.
There’s plenty to enjoy here, from the political undertones and satire of the past (references to Cuba, Kennedy and a very neat dig at Nixon) to the strong message of mutant fear and us not being the same, to the connections of the past, present and future as the end of the mutants seem to draw ever closer. Some will criticise the film for its timeline (they always find some fault when playing with time travel) while real fan boys may find section don’t follow the X-Men Universe. If you are just out for a proper blockbuster that doesn’t just rely on blowing things up, then this is for you.
The performances from one of the strongest cast assembled is, as you would expect, superb. Hugh Jackman is becoming more like Clint Eastwood in every X-Men movie and he also seems happier when working with his mutant pals. James McAvoy, with scruffy long hair, has taken Professor X several steps forward from his previous outing, as has Michael Fassbender as Magneto. Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan aren’t given enough to do, neither is Halle Berry, returning as Storm.
The real stars this time are the always excellent Jennifer Lawrence, who is really riding a crest of a wave at the moment and cannot put a foot wrong and Peter Dinklage as the scheming Dr. Bolivar Trask, the man behind the Sentinels. Having made his name in Game Of Thrones, he makes for an appealing villain here, without actually being evil at all.
We also get a bonus mutant who almost steals the film in the form of Evan Peters as Quicksilver. A sequence in which our heroes are under attack by the authorities is not only impressive from an effects angle but a well needed light relief and could go down as the set piece of the picture.
X-Men: Days Of Future Past is a terrific Summer blockbuster and a film that sits very nicely among its peers. At 131 mins, it zips through at a tremendous pace without too much flab and it doesn’t once treat its audience as fools. The effects are excellent and the finale isn’t as drawn out as previous Marvel movies. If you are looking for fun and excitement, then The Avengers Universe seem to offer that. If you want something a little smarter and thought-provoking, then it’s the X-Men every time.
N.B: Don’t forget to hang around till the very end of the credits for an additional scene that is a mouth-watering taster for things to come.