The future is horrifying. Men, women, children and mutants are hunted to the point of extinction, and the only thing that can save the world is Hugh Jackman and his four billion abs. We saw X-Men: Days Of Future Past, and it’s unlike any superhero movie you’ve seen so far.
Remember how The Avengers flipped the script and blew your goddamn mind by bringing together one of the best ensemble superhero casts together in living memory? Days Of Future Past does the exact same thing, and belts it out of the park, mutant-style.
It’s the story of a far-flung future where mutants and man struggle to survive against the Sentinels: giant mutating robots that can change their abilities at will to defeat any mutant on Earth.
The few surviving X-Men, led by old Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and old Magneto (Ian McKellan), must hold down the fort while Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) uses her now well-developed psychic abilities to zap Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back to the 1970’s to stop Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from killing the head of the weapons company that created the Sentinels. Cue the young band of mutants from X-Men: First Class (James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence) folding themselves perfectly into world history after their adventures in the Cuban Missile Crisis. It’s Wolverine’s task to lead the drunk, degenerate and powerless young Xavier back to the right path and work to save the future and defeat the Sentinels before they’re even a threat.
That sounds mighty complicated to pack into an single sitting, and when you sit down and have the stakes explained to you by the characters, that challenge seems all the more daunting. Two mega-casts with complex characters coming together across two time periods and universes to create a new one? Phew. Tough ask. But not for X-Men visionary Bryan Singer, who hits it for six.
Singer brought the X-Men to the screen way back in 2000, and directed the incredible follow up X2 three years after that. By comparison, the films Singer hasn’t had a hand in (The Last Stand, X-Men Origins: Wolverine and The Wolverine) have all been decidedly average. It wasn’t until X-Men: First Class introduced us to the young Xavier and his band of merry mutants that we had our hope restored. That’s where Singer came back into the fold to direct the sequel, and marry the two brilliant franchises together.
As a film, it so well-balanced. Days Of Future Past is a time-travel film that doesn’t lose its way postulating about branching universe theory; an apocalypse film that doesn’t take too long introducing you to how it happened; a superhero movie without a lot of the glitter and brightness that goes along with so many campy Marvel movies, and an X-Men film without the shit we’ve seen in recent years like X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
There are a few plot holes here and there (I could nerd-out on so many little things, but that would spoil it), and Peter Dinklage’s moustache is a bit much, but otherwise, the film is one of the best superhero romps I have seen in years, and it serves to completely restore faith in the franchise. X-Men is my favourite comic series, and it’s so refreshing to see it treated well again on-screen.
It’s a little long at two hours and 11 minutes (131 minutes), but it’s all killer, no filler.
The effects are unbelievable, and the 3D isn’t wasted. If you can stand 3D showings and you have one going one near you, I definitely recommend it. It adds a true layer of depth without becoming gimmicky.
There are subtle references to X-Men films of the last decade and a half sprinkled throughout the film, so I heartily recommend dusting off your box-set and giving the films another run through before you go to Days Of Future Past on the weekend. You’ll enjoy it so much more that way. Stick to the first three films, however. That’s where all the references are pulled from.
There’s also a post-credits scene at the very end of the rolling names that sets up the X-Men: Apocalypse sequel in 2016. It’s subtle, but the reference is excellent if you know your X-Men villains. I’ll stick a (concealed) comment below describing it.
I can’t recommend X-Men: Days Of Future Past enough for Marvel fans who have been longing for a darker universe to run about in, with a killer cast and a great story.
X-Men: Days Of Future Past hits Australian screens on 22 May.