Some of the very first comic books I read as a kid were from the “Uncanny X-Men” run by Chris Claremont, including such influential story arcs as “The Dark Phoenix Saga” and yes, “Days of Future Past”. So I was pretty excited to see it come alive on the big screen, in a movie that also happens to mark the return to the series of director Bryan Singer, 11 years after “X2: X-Men United”. Plus it was shot in Montreal, which is pretty cool!
“The future. A dark, desolate world…” In the comic book, that dark, desolate future took place in 2013, while in the film, they’ve pushed it back to 2023. They also changed it somewhat from a sci-fi version of Nazi concentration camps to something closer to the post-apocalyptic worlds of “The Terminator” or “The Matrix”. They also switched around the characters quite a bit and while Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) is involved, she’s not the one who’s sent back in time to stop the assassination by Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) that caused the Sentinels (they’re powerful mutant-hunting giant robots, in case you’re not familiar with the comics) to be put into action and eventually nearly wipe out mutantkind.
Indeed, the time-traveler this time around is, in an unsurprising move, the key character of the “X-Men” franchise so far, Wolverine (Hugh Jackman). He remains a fun and badass antihero, but it might actually have been refreshing for Kitty Pryde to be the star this time around. Oh, well… So Logan has his conscience zapped into his 1973 body and he first has to go and try to convince Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart in the future, James McAvoy in the past), who’s then a drunken recluse whose only remaining student is Beast (Nicholas Hoult), of what’s going on and of what needs to be done, namely to stop Mystique from killing Dr. Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage), the inventor of the Sentinels (there’s another change: in the comics, it was a presidential candidate).
But first, they have to break Magneto (Ian McKellen in the future, Michael Fassbender in the past) out of jail – I’ll let you discover the crazy reason why he’s imprisoned! This leads to what might be the best sequence of the movie, thanks to quite a bit of humor and awesome special FX, most of which revolve around the character of Quicksilver (Evan Peters), who’s able to move faster than lightning. The way Singer brings to life this power can best be described as next-gen bullet-time. Did I mention it’s awesome?
The action scenes in general are thrilling throughout “X-Men: Days of Future Past” and while most mutants don’t get a lot of character development, seeing them use their various powers is a treat. The following is just a partial list of the previously unmentionned in this review X-Men who come into play: Iceman (Shawn Ashmore), Bishop (Omar Sy), Colossus (Daniel Cudmore), Blink (Fan Bingbing), Sunspot (Adan Canto), Warpath (Booboo Stewart), Storm (Halle Berry)…
I also enjoyed the 1970s recreation and the way that, like in “X-Men: First Class”, real historical events are involved, notable the Vietnam War and the Paris Peace Accords. There’s even an extended cameo by President Nixon!
One thing that’s a little bothersome is that the continuity is all kinds of screwed up. Often times, it feels like the filmmakers haven’t even seen “X-Men: The Last Stand”!
And even though I mentionned that it was a treat seeing all these mutants in action, I must admit that after half a dozen movies (including the two solo “Wolverine” pictures), the wow factor has somewhat lessened. “X-Men: Days of Future Past” is still well worth seeing, but at this point, I can’t say I’m all that eager to see the upcoming “X-Men: Apocalypse”…