Film Review: Did X-Men: Days of Future Days reignite the franchise? Yes, it did

Friday, 23 May 2014 - 12:00pm IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA Webdesk
Minor spoilers ahead. You've been warned.
  • X-Men-Days-of-Future-Past X-Men: Days of Future Past

Rating: ****

Director - Bryan Singer

Cast - Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Halle Berry, Anna Paquin, Ellen Page, Shawn Ashmore, Nicholas Hoult, Peter Dinklage, Ian McKellen, and Patrick Stewart

Release Date - Friday, May 23

Superhero movies have really stepped up their game this year. The characters are getting more complex, the story-lines actually have some relevance and the writing and direction have improved vastly. Bryan Singer previously helmed two of the original X-Men movies, his ambitious new venture X-Men: Days Of Future Past (DoFP) hoped to breathe new life into the franchise. And the sequel to both X-Men First Class and The Wolverine did just that, and how. The trailers and initial fan reaction to the film has been overwhelmingly positive more so than the previous incarnations of the X-Men.

11 years after the first X-Men film hit the big screen, Singer once again manages to bring in all the elements that made the first film great. The main thing that DoFP had to do was wipe out the blight that was X-Men: The Last Stand, but it did much more than that, it actually showcased the essence behind the X-Men.

The plot of the film is vastly different than the comic book story-line it borrows from, although the main theme of time-travel is still the focal point of the film. The film begins with a powerful voice over in the year 2023 that summarises the need for hope in a world that's been forced to forget what the word means. Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellen) have put aside their differences and are working together against the infamous mutant hunting weapons, the Sentinels. After years of hunting mutants, the Sentinels have turned their attention to humans as well, effectively hunting all kinds of life, forcing people to fight in order to survive.

Read Also: Channing Tatum confirmed to play Gambit in 'X-Men' films

Professor X and Magneto realise that the point when the tide began to shift and the mutants began losing the war was in 1973 when Dr. Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) started the Sentinel programme. Much of the action of the film revolves around Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) as her capture after killing Trask sets off a chain reaction of events and ensures the impending war between humanity and mutants.

After the X-Men realise the point at which their dystopian future could be reversed, Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) works out a way to send Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back in time, to temporarily possess his younger self's mind and convince the 1973 versions of Xavier and Magneto to help him stop Mystique, and in the end alter history. But when Wolverine wakes up in the past, he finds a whole mess of problems including the fact that Magneto was always a megalomaniac, Xavier seems to have given up hope in addition to losing his powers, and Mystique for her own reasons is hellbent on killing Trask.

Firstly, as mentioned before the story-line is very different from the comics, but retains the main fact that the future must be changed at all costs. Matthew Vaughn the director of 'First Class' worked on the story for 'Days of Future Past'. So there are lots of references to the prequel film, but not so much that it distracts from the main plot. In fact, the film picks up elements from almost every X-Men adaptation, and does it well. Look for a lot of in-references to the comics as well, including Magneto's relationship to this version of Quicksilver, Wolverine and Cyclops' rivalry over Jean Grey and more.
 

I was a little skeptical about adding so many X-Men in one movie, but the way that Singer arranged the elements of the film, it worked out perfectly. Some stand out characters were Bobby Drake/Iceman (Shawn Ashmore), an original X-Man in the comics, who takes more of a leadership role in this film; the well underused and fan favourite Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) from the third film; Raven Darkholme/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), who gives a strong performance as the internally conflicted mutant; and Peter Dinklage does a fine job as a worthy adversary.

The lead cast is at the top of their game in the film. It's wonderful to see how well two different actors can play the same character, in the same film. Patrick Stewart gives a stoic and hopeful performance as the older version of Professor X, while James McAvoy gives you a look at how loss can take from us what we had an abundance of - hope. Similarly, Ian McKellen gives you the redemption driven version of Magneto while Michael Fassbender shows us the Magneto most of the world is familiar with, elitist and openly waging a war on humanity.
 

Wolverine (Huge Jackman) is the character that is the most consistent in the film, appearing in both timelines. In his 7th time appearing as the feral mutant, Jackman exceed expectations, showcasing a stronger side to the character as compared to his two-dimensional portrayal in the solo Wolverine films.

A surprisingly fun element in the film is newly introduced character Quicksilver (Evan Peters), the son of Magneto in the comics. This version of the character is at least not openly said to be related to Magneto, but is as quick witted and annoying (in a good way) as his comic book counterpart. Although appearing in a small capacity in the film, Peter's managed to completely dominate the scenes he was in. His acting and the writing of Quicksilver's dialog worked well and was definitely a win.

The action sequences and the choreography, as well as the visual effects are much better than in previous films. Although the 3-D seemed unnecessary, the film would be just as enjoyable in 2-D.

The best part of X-Men: Days of Future Past, as with the first X-Men film is the chemistry of the cast. Jackman, McAvoy and Fassbender share the most screen time and their on-screen chemistry is off the charts. Not to mention the obvious best friend vibe with Stewart and McKellen. Another brilliant element Singer throws in, are the cameos. You really have to watch the film to see how well crafted each character's role is in the grand scheme of things.

The whole point behind the film comes across well, and the undertones of discrimination are well done, exposing humanity as a race that will hate and fear something that they don't understand.

All in all, the film is a great step in the right direction. If the teaser shown in the end credits is any indication, the franchise is far from over but with this film as a base, there's hope for the X-Men yet. The bold move of combining the cast of the original film series with that of First Class seems to have paid of well, making this easily the best X-Men film to date, even better than X-2: X-Men United.

Also Read: Fan made trailer 'Marvel: Ultimate Alliance' brings Spider-Man, Wolverine, Captain America together


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