Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Hugh Jackman, Nicholas Hoult, Ellen Page, Peter Dinklage, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen
Directed by: Bryan Singer
Written by: Simon Kinberg
Rating: PG-13 (US) Running Time: 2 hr 11 min
Considering the great track record of this franchise, and the talent involved, I was surprised how underwhelmed I was by X-Men: Days of Future Past. I was also disappointed how much it relied on the viewers knowledge of the series and characters. That if you somehow saw this film without having seen ALL the other X-Men movies, you’d have very little idea who was who and how all these characters were connected.
Granted, this is a sequel so you have to expect most people interested in this film will have seen X-Men: First Class. But I think a sequel needs to be more than just a continuation of the franchise, and while it moves the story forward, it should do so without sacrificing character development. A good sequel, at least in my mind, should be able to stand on its own, and still make some sense to viewers new to the series. Great examples of sequels that do just that would be films like Aliens, X-Men 2 and The Empire Strikes Back.
A good balanced sequel honors the fans, while also looking to make new ones. X-Men: Days of Future Past doesn’t do that in my opinion, and doesn’t even spend the time properly introducing new characters. Which is especially problematic when it comes to one of the movies main villains, Dr Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage). Scientist, killer of mutants and sentinel creator, Trask is a flat two-dimensional character with a single goal and a single motivating force – fear.
Compare that to other villains in the franchise like William Stryker (Brian Cox) in X-Men 2, who has a long history with the mutants, and Wolverine, and has a connection to the mutant phenomena through his son, and a personal grievance with Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart). A much more developed character, and as such a more formidable villain.
X-Men: First Class didn’t have any of these problems because it took the time to introduce its characters properly, and we got to spend some quality time with them. Days of Future Past makes no such attempt, and simply can’t stand on its own in my opinion. It shoe horns in established characters for the sake of franchise continuity, and wastes the time and talent of Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen and Halle Berry.
But let’s not leave this report on a sour note shall we as it’s not like I hated the film after all! I thought X-Men: Days of Future Past had its problems, but it’s certainly not boring and there is still plenty to enjoy. The visual effects are great, and the cast are good despite the limited material they are given. The action is also well staged, and there are some nice moments of humor injected into the proceedings throughout the film.
This movie absolutely requires that you at least watch X-Men: First Class before taking this on. It would also help if you watched all the other X-Men movies as there are a lot of references to those other films. The more aware of the X-Men universe you are, the better!
The visual effects are of course extremely good, but not groundbreaking. I suggest a matinée showing, and a HD showing at home if you wait for the rental. This films impact will be reduced on a smaller laptop, tablet or phone sized screen.
Best Moments: << Spoilers >>
There is one outstanding moment in this movie that got everyone in the theater I was in applauding. The gang have busted Magneto (Michael Fassbender) out of his cell at the Pentagon. As they make their escape, they are stopped by guards in a kitchen. Quicksilver (Evan Peters), who can move at near light speed, takes off, and we watch as he makes his way around re-arranging everything in the room from guards arms, plates, furniture and even the trajectory of bullets – all while we listen to Jim Croce’s Time In A Bottle. It’s a fantastic scene!