At the beginning of the year everyone at Page to Premiere wrote about the adaptation they were most anticipating for 2014 and mine was X-Men: Days of Future Past. The idea of the old and the new X-Men films’ casts sharing the screen in more than a cameo role blew my mind and on the big screen my mind continued to be blown.
In 2023, Sentinels, mutant terminating and human oppressing robots, rule the earth. A small band of mutants who have joined together for their survival including Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page), Colossus (Daniel Cudmore) and Iceman (Shawn Ashmore), from the early X-Men films , and new mutants Bishop (Omar Sy), Blink (Bingbing Fan), Sunspot (Adam Canto), and Warpath (Booboo Stewart), meet up with Professor X (Patrick Stewart), Magneto (Ian McKellen), Storm (Halle Berry) and Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) in China to develop a plan to change the past. Kitty can transfer consciousness to the past and it is decided Wolverine is strong enough to go back to 1973 and his younger body to stop events that will lead to the Sentinel program’s development.
Once in the past it is a race against time in the future until the Sentinels track down the gathered mutants, as Wolverine seeks out young Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) to help him with the plan. It’s not easy to convince Charles, who’s living alone in his mansion with Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult) to help him stop the pivotal event – Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) assassinating Sentinel creator Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) in Paris, which leads to her capture and the harvesting of her DNA to create unstoppable Sentinels that will destroy their future. Oh, and to do this they need to break Magneto (Michael Fassbender) out of prison.
Welcome to the Days of Future Past.
While the storyline is straight out of the comics, nothing like this has ever been attempted in the cinematic universe where one franchise which essential has been rebooted brings the old cast and the new cast back together on the same film. While Last Stand was disappointing – it wasn’t the way I wanted to see The Phoenix Saga go down – I still loved the characters and actors who portrayed the X-Men the first time around, but I figured their time was done. First Class was a breath of fresh air, with great casting of McAvoy and Fassbender as the younger Charles and Erik, and an awesome script that reenergized my passion for the X-Men.
I couldn’t wait for the next film in the rebooted franchised and going with the Days of Future Past storyline was beyond my expectations. All of the older cast members are showing their age, which is fine since it’s the year 2023, but the characterizations are still there. In the future, Stewart, McKellen, Page, Ashmore, Cudmore and Berry are a sight for sore eyes, but it’s also great to see them fighting along the new mutants too.
In the past, McAvoy continues to thrive as Professor X. Even though the character is going through a rather rough time, McAvoy’s performance continues to give hope even we Charles doesn’t have any left. Fassbender also proves that he was the best choice for Magneto. Emotionally challenged by the rage for past and feared future wrongs, compromised by his care for Charles and other mutants, make his performance charged and masterful to watch.
While I was not a fan of Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique in First Class, I felt like this time around she has grown into the role. Her youth and cuteness were barriers to me accepting her as the deadly and sexy Mystique, but in Days of Future Past she does a much better job owning her persona. She’s still not my ideal actress for the role, but she’s certainly improved.
Hugh Jackman continues to own Wolverine. He gets to the emotional depth of him while still kicking butt across time. He is just as home in the future as he is in the past. He is the hero we needed.
The surprise breakout performance of the film, with one of the most memorable special effects in recent history, is Evan Peters as Peter Maximoff, a.k.a. Quicksilver. As the quirky young mutant, Peters’ steals his few scenes with McAvoy, Jackman, Hoult, and Fassbender. He has thrown down the gauntlet in the battle of the Quicksilvers. For those of you who don’t know, Quicksilver also will be appearing in Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron portrayed by Aaron Taylor-Johnson of Kick-Ass fame. Based on Peters’ performance, he has big shoes to fill.
As important as Trask is to the events of the story, I felt that he wasn’t given much to do. Dinklage’s performance was good, as to be expected, but not one that stood out among the other great performances.
With so many great performances though, I never felt like any one character, even the time traveling Wolverine, dominated the film. Every single one had a role to play and they did so brilliantly.
There’s a lot of bleakness in Days of Future Past, and times when it feels like this could be the path that leads us to a terrible end, but the script is so tight and the performances so good that it kept me on the edge of your seat. At the same time, the film had a lot to live up to and like my first viewing of The Avengers I felt like my overhype expectations weren’t quite met, but, like The Avengers, a week down the line or a second viewing later, I feel that I could hold this movie in even higher esteem. Right now I don’t think it quite reached the stratosphere of First Class, but it came very close and with time, as I think about it more, it could pass First Class as my favorite X-Men film. Regardless, any fan of the X-Men, must see this film.
Skip the 3D – I watched it in 3D and there was nothing special that made it worth the extra money.
X-Men: Days of Future Past opens nationwide today, and, as always with a Marvel film, stay until after the credits (A tip for the credit scene – X-Men: Apocalypse is scheduled for release on May 27, 2016.)