Review: X-Men Days Of Future Past

(This post was originally published on 01/06/2014 on a previous blog.)

The X-Men films were my childhood. At the age of around 8/9 I was allowed to borrow the VHS of the first X-Men film from my local library and the years before that had been spent watching the cartoon from the 90’s on cartoon network at my grandma’s house. So when I found out that the original cast was returning alongside their “First Class” counterparts for an X-Men film based around time travel and the sentinels I was more than excited.

Thankfully Days Of Future Past more than delivers, in fact, this is easily the best film of the series so far.

The plot is a smart premise that explores something that few superhero stories deal with: time travel. This adds an interesting dynamic to an already interesting plot, The dichotomy of a dark dystopian future and the equally bleak past blend together extremely well. Admittedly the pacing starts off a bit too fast, a little more focus on the rich but sinister world of the future would have been nice before the jump to the 70’s. Luckily the past is equally interesting and does very exciting things with a variety of brilliant characters.

The story goes through many interesting twists and turns, which is both a good thing and a bad thing. The characters in both the past and future profit from the twists in the narrative. However at times the story is spinning so many plates, it struggles to focus on the most important aspects of the narrative. But the issue isn’t around for long and for the majority of the film the plot is interesting, tense and smart.

The film is full to the brim with intense action, smart character development and extremely touching moments. All of which are underpinned by a fantastic score, which is big and loud when it needs to be and equally, soft and quiet when it needs to be. The action is a joy to watch and at times very brutal. But it is the soft, emotional moments that are the most engaging, in such a high stakes film, with so many lives at risk, fans of the X-Men franchise will more than likely shed a tear or two as the film reaches its stunning climax.

One of, if not the, best thing about the film is it’s art direction. Every part of the movie has been brought to life in gorgeous detail, whether it is magneto’s minimalist white walled prison, or Trask’s huge, daunting sentinels. Or even smaller details, like the stained glass in the shelter of the future X-Men, that offers a tiny glimpse of colour and hope in a dark, ominous world. The film is visually stunning.

The cast is fantastic and their performances are, mostly, excellent. It’s a joy to watch Patrick Stewart step back in to Xavier’s chair and the chemistry between him and McKellen is stronger and better than ever. It is so good in fact that there are times where their younger counterparts don’t quite manage to fill those boots. McAvoy and Fassbender do a good job for most of the film but perhaps still need another outing or two before they can be compared to their older colleagues. Though McAvoy comes a lot closer during the movies final act.

The most impressive thing about this film is that it has so many threads it’s hard to believe that the plot can actually pull them together in a meaningful way, but it does. In fact the ending of the film is easily the best part of the 2 hours and ten minute running time.  The story closes on such a high note that it serves not only as a resolution for this film, but also for issues brought forward by previous efforts and it sets up a hugely exciting future going forward for the X-Men franchise.

Once again Bryan Singer steps up to the plate and provides X-Men with the highest point of the franchise so far. He proves he understands how to handle escalation, and with so much at risk in this film fans are sure to be on the edge of their seats the entire time. The film is beautiful and whilst it gets a tiny bit muddled in the middle, it is, for the most part, a solid, clever, tense movie with very exciting potential for the future. If you go in as a fan of the original trilogy, Singer knows what you want, and, in many ways, he delivers.

Based on a 100 point scoring system I would give this film: 9.1 / 10

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