Director: Bryan Singer
Starring: Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Peter Dinklage, Patrick Stewart, and Ian McKellen
Review Written By: Michael Dalton (Prime Minister)
Time travel stories are accompanied by inherent and inevitable difficulties. Plot holes and a lack of emotional stakes are going to be hard to overcome, and unlike the very best in this genre, Days of Future Past is unable to avoid these issues. Despite the much-publicized cast, it is worth noting how the original X-Men cast has perhaps fifteen minutes of screen-time at an optimistic estimate. The likes of Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen spend most of the movie watching Hugh Jackman. Though I suppose there are many who would see that as a very worthy way of spending two hours. Despite the story having such limitations, it does seem like an almighty waste of such talent. Meanwhile you can’t help but have no emotional investment in anything happening in the future sequences, as you are aware that the sleeping beauty Hugh Jackman is changing them. Whilst the repercussions of his actions affect the X-Men franchise in a way that most are celebrating yet which doesn’t sit as well with me. With it being quite an arrogant and possessive move on the part of Singer, even if it does open interesting and exciting new doors for the series going forward. Also for those who know the original comic storyline, it can’t help but leave a bad taste in the mouth that the actual protagonist of this story, Kitty Pryde, is reduced to giving Wolverine a time-travel head massage.
Going back in time, James McAvoy gives one of his best performances. Following this with Filth he is showing what a great and underrated actor he is. McAvoy is given the most to work with in the film, as we see a depressed and disheveled Charles Xavier who must learn how to hope again. Although I must say the theme of the importance of hope was done much better in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. However the film has a lot of fun with its time travel set-up as they brilliantly play with Wolverine’s character and his knowledge of future events. It is this lightness of touch that greatly helps this movie and is thankfully becoming the norm once again This lightness is most aptly demonstrated by Evan Peters as Quicksilver. In one scene he absolutely steals the show and the film suffers as a result of it, as it can never reach the heights of that sequence. In breaking Magneto (Michael Fassbender) out of an underground Pentagon prison, Singer delivers a set piece that rivals if not surpasses Nightcrawler’s attempted assassination of the President in the White House at the start of X-Men 2.
However aside from that scene and our opening introduction to the future X-Men, the film is rather underwhelming and doesn’t really deliver the spectacle it promises. The stadium lift much shown in the promotional material is an impressive visual effect, however it is idiotic on a story level. The film has many plot holes, which I won’t go into due to spoilers, however the motivations of Magneto are inexplicable. With his actions in the latter half of the film completely contradicting his earlier behaviour. It is this poor development of key characters that greatly lets the film down. Mystique is in many ways the film’s most important character, and they have a great actress with Jennifer Lawrence, yet her motivations are never fully developed or explored. Whilst Peter Dinklage is given little to work with as Bolivar Trask (And that is not a reference to his height) however his casting and performance in this film is groundbreaking. The film never refers to his height and you completely forget about it. Hopefully something that can create new opportunities.
This review makes me sound a lot harsher on the film than I actually am. The performances are solid, particularly once again by James McaVoy and Michael Fassbender. Whilst it is a fun adventure overall, yet one that doesn’t reach its full potential. The Quicksilver sequence alone made me go and see it again, whilst as noted I appreciate the ground being broke with Dinklage’s casting and performance. However the script is the most expository-laden one in a while, a lot of the cast are wasted, crucial characters are underdeveloped and I couldn’t help but be slightly underwhelmed and disappointed.