Ryan Dosier – In our efforts to explore how the Marvel film properties are being handled outside of Disney, we’ll be reviewing the latest FOX Marvel film effort, X-Men: Days of Future Past. The sixth installment in the X-Men film franchise unites the casts of the first three X-Men films and the rebooted, younger cast from 2011’s X-Men: First Class in an epic time-traveling adventure. The film takes place in both 1973 and a post-apocalyptic future where mutants have been annihilated by the Sentinels. Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellen) send Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back in time using the powers of Shadowcat (Ellen Page). In the past, Wolverine has to unite young Xavier (James McAvoy) and young Magneto (Michael Fassbender) in order to stop Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from doing something that causes the dystopian future.
The film is jam-packed with high-caliber actors in both timelines, and the cast alone is enough to make Days of Future Past soar. The returning X-Men cast members fall back into their roles extremely well. It was such a treat to see Iceman, Colossus, Shadowcat, and other familiar faces again. Halle Berry’s Storm felt a little slighted on screen time, but she was fantastic with what she was given. Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen are, as always, spectacular. Their friendship shows through and adds another wonderful layer to these storied characters. Their work in the film is flawless. Ellen Page is also awesome and does some great work.
Hugh Jackman probably has the most screen time, and, as always, he proves that he was born to play Wolverine. His wit and skills as both an actor and an action star are sharp as ever. He transcends both timelines extremely well and there’s no better choice of character to be the connection between both worlds. His work with the fantastic James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence is great as well. All three of those actors are dynamic and deliver some of their best performances. There are so many actors in this film that I’m forgetting to mention some great ones… Nicholas Hoult as Hank McCoy/Beast is omnipresent and great, Peter Dinklage is really good as Bolivar Trask, and Quicksilver (Evan Peters) has absolutely the greatest scene in the film.
The storytelling in Days of Future Past is handled incredibly well. With such a complicated story, I was so impressed by how quickly the action moved, how all of the actors had enough to do, and how impeccable the characters were balanced. There was never a dull moment and the plot holes were minimal. Incredibly, everything worked. With a film dealing with time travel head on, that’s truly surprising. The plot exposition was interesting and the explanation of the rules of the world were never confusing. The script was one of Days of Future Past‘s finest elements.
I was also impressed by the effects used in the film. Practical effects like Beast and Mystique’s actual makeup and costuming looked great–much better than they did in First Class. All of the other mutant powers were really, really well done as well. Magneto and Quicksilver especially. But really, all of the effects worked. The Sentinels looked and moved really incredibly and you could tell that most of the stunts were actually performed by actors, not computer generated mutants. Kudos to the effects and stunt teams for their great work. When Magneto lifts an entire baseball stadium across Washington DC, I gasped.
The film also solved many problems caused by the mostly-despised X-Men: The Last Stand. I won’t spoil anything, but the use of time travel explained away some of the character issues that fans had with the third X-Men film. There are some incredible cameos that come about that made the X-Men fan in me freak out. As a fan of both the comic franchise and the films, I was incredibly pleased with how the story played out by the end.
Overall, X-Men: Days of Future Past was dynamic, thrilling, and unafraid to pull any punches. It was fun, brutal, and a very fine film. It was infinitely better than The Amazing Spider-Man 2 but not quite as satisfying as Captain America: The Winter Soldier. FOX handled the X-Men very well with Days of Future Past and I’m extremely excited to see where they go from here. They may just give Disney/Marvel a run for their money.
X-Men: Days of Future Past opens nationwide today. Rated PG-13.