Days of Future Past was a bold move by Fox and the people behind the X-Men franchise. When the third movie in the original trilogy, The Last Stand, managed to put an end to a flourishing franchise by killing off half the key cast, they could have very easily rebooted the franchise entirely. Even after First Class, recasting key members for a very good prequel, they could have continued with the new cast and forgotten any links to the original movies at all, rebooting the series without actually branding it as so.
Instead they went with a bold, much better move on the part of the studio and creators behind the series. By bringing the “original” cast and the “new” cast together in the same movie, it established all seven X-Men movies as one solid franchise, sharing just one key character through every one, Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine.
It’s with him that the movie’s story focuses. He is key to the whole premise of the movie, being sent back in time to stop an assassination that will have catastrophic ramifications for the mutants in the future. Those ramifications are demonstrated brilliantly in one of the best openings of any summer blockbuster in a long time. Being introduced and re-acquainted with new and familiar mutants as they battle Sentinels, not only shows how high the stakes and challenges are for the “future” characters but also presents the main thrust of the movie and the key element to how everything works.
In fact, it’s the action sequences that are one of the biggest strengths of DoFP. From a spectacular opening, a brilliant jailbreak and a public showdown, the first flaw with DoFP is that it’s finale never really lives up to how high the standards are set in the first two-thirds of the movie. The final act offers very little that is new and even has shades of First Class rather than anything too unique in itself.
It’s a minor issue in a film full of so many strengths though. The 70s setting is utilised well, from the first moment that Wolverine opens his eyes in his younger self’s body. The use of many new and old mutants is done brilliantly too. The “future mutants” all have their positives and offer exciting new powers, particularly Blink who can open portal for the other mutants to utilise in interesting and creative ways.
The newest and most original use of a pretty average power is Quicksilver. His ability is to run ridiculously fast but when you see things from his perspective, coupled with a brilliant choice of music, the power is demonstrated as anything but average and unoriginal.
It’s with the established mutants that most of the heavy-lifting is done though. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender slip into their respective roles as Professor X and Magneto naturally. The same can be said for Jennifer Lawrence who finds herself at the centre of the key events as Mystique. Hugh Jackman is the most impressive though, still oozing attitude, heroics and a sharp, funny edge as Wolverine. Once he decides to step down as the iconic superhero, I would be tempted to retire Wolverine’s character or shut down the franchise altogether.
This is also one of the new “problems” that the X-Men franchise has established for itself. All seven movies count as one franchise but through a time travel piece of story trickery, old characters are brought back to the forefront. Fox now have a franchise they can continue with either set of characters and if others are like me, I would love to see both groups continue. McAvoy is great as Professor X but I would love to see more Patrick Stewart too.
This is hardly a negative though and what DoFP manages to do is reset the X-Men franchise back on to a positive and potentially Avengers-challenging position. With X-Men: Apocalypse already announced, with a setting of the 80s, it seems the younger versions of the cast are getting a run-out (with or without Jackman’s Wolverine).
Overall, X-Men: Days of Future Past demonstrates how to make a X-Men movie that brings together the positives of all the best of the seven movies in the franchise. It has the best examples of the past and future mutants. It has some of the best set-pieces of the series so far and manages to put the films back on a strong-footing. It suffers from an all too familiar final third that doesn’t match the success of the beginning of the movie but it also leaves you wanting to see much more of the X-Men franchise as a whole.
Rating – 4.5
1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)