The X-Men send Wolverine to the past in a desperate effort to change history and prevent an event that results in doom for both humans and mutants.
The decision to make ‘First Class’ was a welcome shot in the arm for the X-Men franchise, which had becoming increasingly tired, and the success of that film led to ‘Days of Future Past’, a sequel of sorts to both the old and new X-Men films with the younger members of ‘First Class’ teaming up with the older versions of their characters. This premise had the potential to be outstanding or a complete disaster, and thankfully director Bryan Singer has veered it closer to the former than the latter. The plot is complicated, but smart direction and a strong handle on when to show what’s happening or when to use exposition keep the audience up to speed with everything occurring in both timelines. The large cast can appear a little cluttered at times, with the sheer volume of characters making it difficult to spend as much time as we’d like with some of the supporting members of the ensemble (Halle Berry’s ‘Storm’ and Omar Sy’s new introduction ‘Bishop’ are two that suffer in this regard), but the wise decision to focus on the key characters manages to largely avoid this.
This is where one of the main strengths of the franchise comes to the fore, with it’s cast full of terrific award nominated actors who elevate fairly standard superhero fare to the next level (I read somewhere that the 6 lead actors and 4 lead actresses are all Golden Globe or Oscar nominees/winners which is mightily impressive*). To different extents all of these actors play their parts well, with the lead trio from ‘First Class’, McAvoy, Fassbender and Lawrence all excellent again, and the superb Hugh Jackman doing the heavy lifting holding both casts together. Out of the support, Evan Peters is the standout as the charismatic new addition ‘Quicksilver’.
The basic premise of the film is that Wolverine (Jackman) is sent back in time to prevent the introduction of Sentinels, a series of anti-mutant robots that (in the future) have wiped out many mutants and many humans in a massive war. The premise delivers because of the opportunities it presents for the flawed protagonists to argue and determine the best way to approach the problem, with the final showdown both a vindication of the need for the sentinels, and a strong argument against their use. The plot moves too fast to linger too long on the morality arguments, but it makes for some interesting subtext. In conclusion, ‘Days of Future Past’ is another fine film in the X-Men canon, and suggests that the series has a more than healthy future.
*For the record, I believe these are considered to be Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Peter Dinklage, Hugh Jackman, Jennifer Lawrence, Halle Berry, Ellen Page and Anna Paquin
Directed By: Bryan Singer
Starring: Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Peter Dinklage, Hugh Jackman, Jennifer Lawrence, Halle Berry, Ellen Page, Nicholas Hoult, Shawn Ashmore, Omar Sy, Evan Peters, Josh Helman and Anna Paquin