X-Men: Days of Future Past
Dark, enthralling and undeniably exhilarating, this is the X-Men movie for X-Men aficionados.
This is the X-Men movie for X-Men aficionados; a filmic Grange Hermitage, Stradivarius and Cohiba Behike rolled into one. That's not to say newcomers won't enjoy themselves, but X-Men: Days of Future Past is a considered, intricate and devoted film that rewards both the audience's fidelity to, and memory of, its predecessors.
It's set (initially) in the future, where earth's mutants — good and bad — have all but been exterminated via an unstoppable army of adaptive, mutant-seeking robots named 'Sentinels'. With one last throw of the dice available, the survivors send their own indestructible spork, aka Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), back in time to 1974 to attempt to alter the course of history.
Wolverine's principal task is to reunite a young Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) with the man responsible for putting him in a wheelchair — the metal-manipulating champion of mutants known as Magneto (Michael Fassbender). Xavier, however, has become an addict of alcohol and painkillers whilst Magneto has been buried in a cement prison for participating in a tricky little incident in Dallas, 1963. Together, they must all reconcile their grievances and work collectively towards stopping an embittered Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from attacking the inventor of the Sentinels, Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage).
Back in the director's chair is Bryan Singer, whose first two X-Men films were by far the strongest in the franchise. The key to their success was focusing on stories bolstered by special effects, rather than delivering 'special effects movies' for the sake of special effects. They were rip-roaringly fun and exciting pictures that also represented compelling parables on prejudice and discrimination.
One or two space-time continuum hiccups notwithstanding, X-Men: Days of Future Past rediscovers that balance and the result is a complex and comprehensive film that ingeniously marries the old Singer cast with the younger, First Class one. It also introduces some fantastic new mutants, including a Portal-esque character named Blink and the lightning fast Quicksilver (Evan Peters), whose keynote slow-mo scene is the film's undisputed highlight.
X-Men: Days of Future Past is a delightful reboot of a series that was in danger of losing its way. Full of subtle yet instructive allusions to future moments from past films (remember: time travel), it refreshingly keeps things relatively small-scale amid a growing compliment of contemporaries that now deem city-wide devastation par for the course. Dark, enthralling and undeniably exhilarating, it's an elegant and accomplished thrill-ride for both new fans and old.
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