By: Bryan Montgomery
Rating: 9 out of 10
After X-Men: The Last Stand dropped the ball in 2006, the X-Men franchise was held in a state of limbo until director Matthew Vaughn reset the system with X-Men: First Class in 2010, bringing in a grouping of talented, young actors to re-set the timeline and re-establish the X-Men vernacular with a fresh take on the outdated material. With the foundation of X-Men now firmly re-established, Bryan Singer, the director of the first two immensely popular entries into the franchise, returns to his roots to present perhaps the best entry in the X-Men franchise. X-Men: Days of Future Past (DOFP) re-energizes the franchise by injecting what made the first two films and First Class so successful, creating a globe-trotting, action-packed epic lifted by incredible action, a gripping story and an outstanding cast.
In the future, the mutant race stands on the edge of extinction after mutant-hunting Sentinels, robots with the ability to adapt and pursue mutants with lethal results, hunt and execute the remaining mutants. Led by Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellen), Logan (Hugh Jackman) is sent back into the past to stop Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage), who was responsible for the creation of the robots. Logan is tasked with pursuing Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), enlisting the help of a young Xavier (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) in order to accomplish his objective.
Much like First Class, the basis for DOFP success is derived from another outstanding set of performances from the primary cast members, but no more so than Lawrence’s turn as Raven for the second time. By far the best iteration of Mystique yet to be seen on screen, Lawrence dominates the role, channeling her inner Rebecca Romijn as a lethal and electric fighter while at the same time fighting for a cause that resonates with fans of the franchise, making Raven a de-facto Anti-Hero throughout the film.
Supplanting Raven is the return of Fassbender as Magneto, as he once again delivers in the role in exuberant fashion. Having McKellen join in the film only allows the viewer to realize how well this cast is the second time around. Surprisingly, the only individual who does not perform to the top of his ability is McAvoy, as the character seen in DOFP is one of a broken Charles Xavier, not one that is allowed to be the intellectual that was prevalent throughout the previous installment.
One of the best roles in the film comes courtesy of a newcomer, as Evan Peters enters the franchise as Quicksilver, a speed demon who injects a high degree of much-needed humor in the movie while totally dominating the small amount of time that he is on screen. Dinklage also does well as the subsidiary antagonist of the film, serving more as a catalyst rather than a character, but as the creator of the sentinels, Trask does just enough to vindicate the audience to the point of exasperation.
From the onset of this film, the primary selling point was the return of Stewart and McKellen, who return to positive results. Teased in The Wolverine last summer, the two classical actors return to great results, although the focus is clearly on the interactions in the 1970s, which is a proper way for the franchise to go. It was also fresh to see the faces of Shawn Ashmore, Ellen Page and Halle Berry as Iceman, Kitty and Storm, respectively, but to have them in a supporting role was even better as these two outstanding franchises were brought together in DOFP to outstanding results.
Adding to the excitement of the original cast is an immensely strong cast of newcomers, led by Peters. Fans will be ecstatic to see Bishop, as most of the new characters, including Blink, Sunspot and Warpath, each have their moment to shine throughout the movie as the group battles the deadly sentinels.
However, as has been the case since the beginning of the X-Men franchise, the entire movie balanced upon the performance by Jackman. Serving more as a bystander to the action rather than the Wolverine-centric plot that the fans of the series have been accustomed to see over the last few years. The addition of Wolverine into the DOFP storyline rather than the inclusion of Kitty Pride from the comic books ultimately helps the film, as Wolverine is able to bring his trademark humor and intensity to the primary plotline.
The action in the film is absolutely incredible, assisted by the inclusion of amazing special effects, specifically those that include the sentinels. The opening and closing battles are exactly what you would want from a battle between X-Men and Sentinels, as the film’s final scene involving Washington, D.C., Magneto and RFK Stadium will simply make your jaw drop, as the movie continues to ramp up the abilities of Magneto in each film, allowing the character to demonstrate his abilities on a larger scale in each progressive film.
X-Men: Days of Future Past is another knockout installment in the X-Men cinematic universe and immediately vaults into the conversation of the top three installments in this 14-year old franchise. On par with X-Men First Class and X-Men 2: X-Men United, Days of Future Past finds a way to make sure that all cylinders are firing, and Singer is able to do that without driving the ship into the ground, which could have easily happened with such a large-scale epic. An incredible sequel to X-Men: First Class, a perfect wrap of the original trilogy that rectifies the mistakes of The Last Stand that also sets up X-Men: Apocalypse, a 2016 upcoming fill that will have immensely lofty expectations, Days of Future Past is a must-see superhero film that continues to establish X-Men as a bar-raising franchise that ranks among the best in modern film.