What sets X-Men movies apart from their peers is how rooted in reality they are. The concept of mutation and deeming people as classless abominations is nothing new, but each of the films focus on real peoples’ actions. Iron Man is a CGI heavy supersuit; Hulk is a computer-generated tyrant in easily destructible environments. Magneto, Charles Xavier, and their ilk are more familiar; approachable. Their blockbuster franchise may not elevate the action above others of the superhero genre, but the human elements are what keep the audience engaged. For “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” franchise veterans commingled with cast members of “X-Men: First Class” for an all-star entry to the world of mutants.
We begin our story in the distant future. A robotic army targeting mutants called sentinels patrol the world. All mutants and sympathizers are arrested or killed. Realizing the dire nature of their species, Magneto and Professor Xavier (Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart) send Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back to 1973, days before history began creating and utilizing the mutant-hunting killers. Once there, Wolverine must locate the younger versions of the mutant leaders and enlist help in rewriting such a dark future for them.
Like its predecessor, “X-Men: Days of Future Past” plays with history. The John F. Kennedy assassination has ties to mutants; the ending of the Vietnam War is a coming together of resources to start a new war; and of course revisiting a moment in the cold war when tensions were high. The period piece nature of the film elevates the story and removes much of the excess gadgetry we have today. They must rely on each other to prevent another mutant-marked assassination that would have them hiding to survive.
Returning director Bryan Singer deftly blends characters from the reboot and the established trilogy, executing a story that feels both epic and human. We revisit characters in darker times, and learn of new ones as we follow Wolverine on his journey. Hugh Jackman finally has the opportunity to expand on the character that made him a star, something the two spinoff films failed to do. Backed by one of the most well-known stories in the X-Men universe, we are treated to a film that unites all mutants to better the world in which both humans and they exist.
Despite the occasional franchise continuity issue, the film is a welcome return to form. “Days of Future Past” recalls the sublime second film in the series, but constantly references elements and details of each previous entry. For those who enjoyed the higher points of the X-Men universe will be pleasantly satisfied. 4 out of 5 stars.
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