After the wildly successful X-men First Class in 2011 Bryan Singer takes up the mantle as director of the second-largest group of Marvel heroes. The general concept of this film is that the timeline needs to be fixed in order to change the future. If anyone remembers the 2011 Star Trek you’ll know that from now on X-men has a carte blanche to rewrite the entire canon in a parallel timeline. In their defence, X-men do this a lot better than Star Trek, retaining the philosophical and moral issues at their core. However, all of that preparation you did of reading the comics and even watching the previous films is now totally useless. Also if you were a fan of the previous Wolverine films good luck to you, very good luck.
Given that there is time travelling we now have two Charles Xaviers and two Magnetos. The older pair played by Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, the younger by James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, reprising their previous roles. Obviously these roles couldn’t have been changed from their established actors but it somehow never becomes believable that James McAvoy grows up into Patrick Stewart and that gets rather distracting at several points. The script continues to linger on the ambiguous bond shared by Xavier, Magneto and Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) creating an emotional thrust for the film far more captivating than the need to save the world. While their older and wiser counterparts are trying to put an end to a massacre, the only weapons they have are their younger selves, filled with angst, love and sexual tension. As such most of the film serves as an experiment in just how much cathartic rage and pain can we watch in two hours? The answer: an awful lot.
Hugh Jackman has the burden of carrying the film here by connecting both timelines. The exposition nearly exclusively comes from him yet he keeps his devil-may-care characterisation, which is a difficult and delicate balance to strike, and one Jackman pulls off with surprising skill throughout. Truthfully the majority of the other characters seem like cameos in Days of Future Past making this film feel very different to the ensemble camaraderie of First Class. The cinematography is a little clumsier here than the previous film and falls back on unnecessary gimmicks and clichés a little too often especially in the big action sequences. By contrast the CGI is handled very well, almost never breaking the suspension of disbelief.
In conclusion Days of Future Past offers exactly what you’d want from an X-men film, the emotions of every character being played out on a global, political and highly destructive stage. And of course some wise warnings against social Darwinism, eugenics and vengeance for it’s own sake.
- Entertainment: 5/5
- Artistic: 3/5
- Intellectual: 3/5