Released on May 23, Memorial Day weekend’s biggest film returns Bryan Singer to the world of X-Men. Merging Matthew Vaughn’s well-received, phoenix-like rebirth and Singer’s established universe, “X-Men: Days of Future Past” covers an enormous story spread over two time periods. Surprisingly easy to follow along, one must see the four previous films to fully comprehend the characters’ motivations.
In the future, the mutant and human populations have diminished as robots called Sentinels have waged war on mutants. A small team has managed to stay alive by using Kitty Pryde’s (Ellen Page) powers to send Bishop (Omar Sy) back in time a few days to warn them of approaching danger. Always on the run, the group joins Professor X (Patrick Stewart), Magneto (Ian McKellan), Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), and a few others in order to attempt to change history by sending Wolverine back decades to prevent the creation of the Sentinel program, caused by Mystique’s (Jennifer Lawrence) assassination of the robots’ inventor, Dr. Trask (Peter Dinklage). Sent to the 70s, Wolverine must rally together an unlikely team, starting with Professor X (James McAvoy), who has lost his way. Wolverine attempts to reconcile Magneto (Michael Fassbender), the professor, and Mystique with the help of Beast (Nicholas Hoult), but their varying motivations weaken the team.
Audiences really should see the four previous films (“X-Men,” “X2,” “X-Men: The Last Stand,” and “X-Men: First Class”) to get a full understanding of this universe. Almost every actor returns from the previous films, though some are included only in photos and the presence of others is brief (Halle Berry, Anna Paquin), but flashbacks often work to refresh the audience. Though the audience is aided by these flashbacks and quick dialogue references, the histories of characters are necessary to understand the conflicts of “X-Men: Days of Future Past.” The film excludes some of the plot from “The Last Stand,” acknowledging just how awful Brett Ratner’s film is, but the motivations of Wolverine from the third film are still important to “Days of Future Past.”
Of the five films, “Days of Future Past” feels the most like a comic book. The action scenes are often brief yet engaging while a much larger story plays out. That is, the storytelling is often included in the action, but the lesser related battles are kept short. The sequences involving Blink (Bingbing Fan), Warpath (Booboo Stewart), Colossus (Daniel Cudmore), Iceman (Shawn Ashmore), etc. set in the future are especially engaging while the action set in the 70s includes more plot-propelling events while highlighting Mystique’s talents. Director Singer understands that comic heroes have stories that cause the action rather than the other way around; he impressively utilizes his characters.
Besides the action, though, “Days of Future Past” tells the 70s story like an echo. Meant to question the possibility of changing the future or if the same major events will just unfold in a different way, the storytelling becomes dry and a little boring. The same arguments repeat as characters try to convince Charles/Professor X to find hope and embrace a future. The contrasting viewpoints of Charles, Erik/Magneto, and Raven/Mystique are more interesting and enough to drive the story without questioning the possibility of changing history.
“Days of Future Past” gets to the soul of the dominant characters (Mystique, Magneto, Prof. X, and Wolverine) and includes some fun action and even a little comedy [the best section is the brief inclusion of Quicksilver/Peter], but the story isn’t as strong as some of the previous films; Singer’s two earlier films and Vaughn’s prequel feel like a massive universe whereas “Days of Future Past” is more of a completely contained comic. Yes, doors open for future films, including a window into the future at the end of the credits, but this film feels like closure; it feels like “the end.”
Rating for “X-Men: Days of Future Past:” B
For more information on this film or to view its trailer, go to IMDB
“Days of Future Past” is playing across Columbus, including at Movie Tavern and Gateway. For showtimes, go to www.movietickets.com