Posted May 18, 2014 by editor in Film Reviews
 
 

X-Men: Days Of Future Past Review


xmen

The X-Men are back again in one of the steadier franchises in recent times. It launched back in 2000 with the inaugural edition. Patrick Stewart lead the side of good, Ian McKellen was in charge of the botherhood of bad guys – but both fighting a common cause: That of the rights of mutants. In the middle we were introduced to a character called Logan (AKA Wolverine) played by newcomer and unknown Hugh Jackman. And in that role a star was born, and an iconic character suddenly became a household name.

Over a decade later and a change of focus was decided upon for the fifth film X-Men : First Class. This time round on the origins of the X-Men featuring  James McEvoy and Michael Fassbender as the younger versions of Professor X and Magneto.

We are now 14 years on and the seventh X-Men film is here in Days Of Future Past. The premise – In the future, mutants are hunted by an advanced mechanic design called the Sentinels. Programmed to hunt and kill mutants, the future has become a mist ridden wasteland akin to something from the Matrix.

And right from the get go we get a mutant massacre of characters both old and new. It’s quite the attention grabber to see just how ruthless the sentinels are. At this point we learn that Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) has the ability to send characters back in time through connecting with their minds from the past. It isn’t long before the decision is made to send Wolverine all the way back to the 1970’s to make contact with the younger Charles Xavier (James McEvoy) and Magento (Michael Fassbender) in order to avert an incident at the time  that would set off the chain of events that would lead to this future war.

What is refreshing is how well this all works as an ensemble effort. There was a time where an X-Men film could not survive without Wolverine being placed front and centre. Here, he is more like a guest player to have the plot explained to him, then to explain it to others, serve for a bit of humour and then be on call when the shit goes down!

On hand to levy up the good and the evil are Nicholas Hoult as Beast who is a constant presence and also Michal Fassbender’s Magneto who reminds us that at this stage in his life he is still a man with an embittered purpose. There is also the introduction of a new character Quicksilver who gets to steal the screen early on with his abilities.

The main focus though is on the current state of both Charles (a terrific show stealing McEvoy) and Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence bagging herself some healthy screen time) as well as the relationship between the two. This becomes the key to the story development as friends and foes have to band together against a new enemy (Peter Dinklage’s Trask).

The film does pay short visits to the future. And although its’ great to see the likes of Shawn Ashmore’s Iceman and Daniel Cudmore’s Collosus; There is only so much time to go around. Halle Berry’s Storm perhaps pulls the least amount of screen time out of the survivors here. The four new mutants that are introduced have some interesting skills at their disposal, but they are mere warriors to be on the walls looking out for incoming attacks. We don’t get to know any of them – except that they all kind of look a bit cyberdog-emo.

Since the X-Men franchise came to our screens there has been a variety of continuity questions based around characters, characters ages that do not fit in with the rest of the universe.  Some relating to Charles losing the ability to walk long before previous films suggested it. Here you get more of the same issues being raised.  A young William Stryker appears at an age that is perhaps a little too young compared to his cameo in First Class, or even the age he is at a few years later in X-Men Origins.

Some questions are raised. If the future is so desolate, who is it that is controlling them and where are these people living if everywhere is a wasteland? Also we don’t find out how Wolverine (in the future) managed to get his adamantium claws back (As in the previous film they were taken away from him (Do we assume that Magneto does him the favour?).

All of this is bound to send fan boys into overdrive at conventions. But for the most part it is all largely harmless in context. The film isn’t quite five star perfection, but it’s a contender for it throughout. Thankfully there is very little else to complain about.

Returning director Singer balances all the worlds well and has taken a huge step up in terms of scale.  This should secure his name again as a big budget director, but also as one of the key figures in guiding the X-Men universe on the right path. We’ll see him and the X-men again in two years!

4 Stars

 

 

Steven Hurst


editor