The expectation levels were astronomical once the news came out that Days of Future Past would include a star cast that comprised of the original X-Men trilogy mutants along with the "young" talent of First Class. With the crème de la crème of the movie world all squeezed together in one of the most anticipated superhero sequels there was a lot riding on the production. To top it all, the story, one of my favorite X-Men arcs, was perfect to bring together this mammoth gathering, yet, when I walked out of the movie, there is just one actor and scene that truly stood out.
Days of Future Past isn't a bad film, but it's not the best either, especially when you compare it to the retro-coolness of First Class. The story follows a few remaining mutants, who have joined forces, in a dystopian Earth, a place where their kind are hunted and mercilessly killed by Sentinels. As a last resort, to stop the production of these mutant destroying "robots", Kitty Pryde is asked to send Wolverine back in time to a specific moment, a decade after the end of First Class, that is solely responsible for the present day devastation.
To begin with, the initial and climatic fight sequences that take place in the present are dark on two completely different levels; on the one end it's difficult not to cringe as the Sentinels kill the mutants in the most heartless fashion which personally was realistic and thus appreciated, but the fact that these very scenes are filmed in a dingy atmosphere making the action hard to follow at times in turn hinders the viewing experience.
The entire X-Men franchise has mostly been about Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), no matter the film he has remained the central character all along, and here too it is him we see go back in time to try and convince a "drugged out" walking Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and locked up Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) to change the path of the future. It's also here that things start to mix up. Hereon and till the very end we have references-a-plenty with regards to each and every previous X-Men movie, some of which will technically happen in the future. Confused yet? The moral of the story being that it will do you a lot of good if you have seen all the X-Men films that have been made, but the catch being that by the end of it all, nothing would really matter as the film finishes in such a fashion that it wipes the entire slate clean.
What’s also unfortunate is that the film steps away from the comic it is based on, on a number of occasions, primarily keeping the main premise similar. Although having Ellen Page’s Kitty Pryde as the main character, who travels back in time according to the comic, would have been a huge gamble for the producers, it would have been not only true to the original story, but also a much more enjoyable and less wolverine-esq film, for let’s face it, with the three previous X-Men films and the two Wolverine films, we have had just about enough of the character.
Nevertheless, it is the back and forth between the present and the past that I love about the story and the fact that the producers were able to get together the entire cast from both the franchises together. While Jackman's Wolverine has remained pretty constant through the entire franchise, it is once again Fassbender and McAvoy who stand out in their respective roles. Jennifer Lawrence might perfect to play the young Raven but I still have my reservations for when she is Mystique, but since both characters go hand-in-hand, there is not much that can be done about it. On the positive side, without a doubt, and as stated above, it is Evan Peters’ Quicksilver who gives us the best, funniest, and most memorable performance in the scene where he helps Erik break-out of jail.
The reason why Days of Future Past wasn't as exciting as I had hoped it to be was that there are just too many X-Men films to compare it with. Moreover, it takes a few liberties along the way that don't always work well. In the end, X-Men: Days of Future Past is entertaining enough to make you still want more from the franchise, but hopefully something a little bit more streamlined and more in tune with Bryan Singer’s earlier attempts be it First Class of the first two films of the original X-Men films which remains my favourite so far.
Do stick around for the end-credit scene which sets up the stage nicely for the next X-Men film, but will most likely leave non comic-book fans a little bewildered, to whom I suggest reading up on X-Men Apocalypse.