X-Men is currently one of Marvel’s longest going movie franchises, and I haven’t ran the numbers but if I was to guess, I’d probably suggest that it has more movies than any other (Spiderman is likely closest) when you consider the Wolverine spin offs. The fact is, people love the franchise, and it’s rich abundance of cool and well developed characters make it a real cash cow for Marvel. So how does their latest movie, X-Men Days of Future Past stack up?
Set a few years into the future, the robotic ‘Sentinels’ have been used to start a war against mutants, but have ended up bringing the world into darkness. As the end nears, the remaining X-Men seize an opportunity to send Wolverine back in time to try and alter a key event that led to the fall of humanity at the hands of the Sentinels. However, bringing together a young Magneto and Professor X after the events of ‘X-Men: First Class’ will be no easy task.
What a great start to the year it’s been for Marvel Studios. Starting it off with the fantastic Captain America: The Winter Solider and the pretty good (but highly successful) The Amazing Spiderman 2 is quite a feat. So X Men Days of Future Past had a lot to live up to, and I won’t waste any time telling you that they didn’t disappoint.
As soon as I read some early plot details about the film, I was excited. The plot is one that is demanding on a filmmaker, in a high risk, high reward type of way. Time travel is complex, easy to criticize and difficult to get right. That’s exactly why I was glad to see the franchise try and spice it up by doing just that. Then you have to believe that it was a sneaky little way to let them get the casts of both eras of X Men movies into one film. Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy were so fantastic in X Men First Class, that it was just the clear way to go.
Having this incredible cast certainly paid dividends, as the acting is fantastic and brings a lot of credibility to a comic book movie, which is exactly what Marvel has done so well for some time in their more popular franchises. The standout for me is Fassbender, but McAvoy, Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Jennifer Lawrence, Ian McKellen (etc etc etc) are all brilliant in their time on screen. Fassbender makes such a ridiculously good Magneto that it’s tough to come unglued from the screen, particularly in the latter third of the film.
The biggest star of the film however, is the plot. I thought it was fantastic. Time travel has been done before, but it just didn’t seem dull or boring at all here. There was a lot on the line, and the dynamic between the least dynamic character of all, Wolverine, having to play diplomat between the two most influential X Men who happen to hate each other, was just great. Then there were so many little details, many of which presented fantastic twists on real life events. A great example of these ‘alternate histories’ is a play on the Kennedy assassination that was a big pre release campaign for the film. These are really interesting, and another sense of credibility to the X Men legend, and some gravitas to the proceedings.
That being said, when you go to see an X Men movie you go to see some action. X Men packs some of the good stuff into it’s 130 minute run time. It starts off with a pretty impressive action bonanza, before slowing down a little. But there is the perfect amount of action, and what’s really interesting is that they present it with great variety. Some of the action is high stakes suspense and spectacle, such as an incredible sports stadium related scene, while others are more humorous and uniquely presented like a great little scene involving ‘Quicksilver’ and his super fast moving abilities. A good way to describe it, is that the action is plenty but never overdone and rarely just for action’s sake. The last half an hour of this movie is one of the most suspenseful superhero movies I’ve seen, and leaves you on the edge of your seat, really not knowing what is going to happen. Hat’s off to the filmmakers for that.
Perhaps the only complaints I have with the film are they the beginning felt pretty rushed, and I would have liked a little more background into the war, in order to make the need for time travel a little more credible. Then of course there are going to be a few small continuity errors and some rather large questions, and there were. Some of which I have a little difficulty reconciling, but the fact is the movie was so good that I’m letting them slide.
Overall, X Men Days of Future Past sits right up there with The Winter Soldier as Marvel’s best in a good while, and quite frankly one of the best films of the year. It is funny, complex, full of great acting and characters without feeling diluted, and at times is just incredibly suspenseful. It is rare that a movie about comic book superheroes can connect so well throughout real history to the point that it feels genuinely credible. There are some things that might not hold up under a microscope, but why would anyone have a microscope when the film is so fantastic through some 3D glasses! The big question the movie leaves me with, is simply, what’s next?