If you’re anything like us, the X-Men have probably been a big part of your life since primary school and the introduction of the X-Men movie series has built on the comic book and TV cartoon to create even more brilliant viewing. This culminated recently with the release of X-Men: Days Of Future Past and now that we’ve seen it we can safely say that it’s one of the best we’ve seen to-date from the mutated kids at Marvel.
Going on general release on the 22nd May in the UK and the 23rd in the US, it arrived just in time for the bank holiday and Memorial Day weekend, and considering the storyline issues with Godzilla (2014), released a week earlier, you’ve got to say that the spring blockbuster crown goes to X-Men: Days Of Future Past. It’s got an impressive plot and script, amazing special effects, an epic cast and a barrage of action that will keep you completely entranced from the futuristic beginning to the odd Easter egg end.
The story is a little convoluted as it sees the X-Men of the future battling a seemingly unstoppable stream of mutant gene enhanced sentinels, who use a combination of Charles Xavier’s mental powers, Wolverine’s rejuvenating lifeline and Kitty Pride’s phasing ability to send Logan back in time to the 1970s to prevent the timeline from occurring. Causality inaccuracies aside, this makes for an amazing film as you get a cool combination of the futuristic, war torn older generation, combined with the heady, 70s spirit of the younger X-Men with Wolverine bridging the divide.
It also means that the film has the largest body of characters from the series than we’ve ever seen before, bringing together the likes of Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Ellen Page and Halle Berry from the original X-Men movie series with Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence and Nicholas Hoult from the X-Men: First Class cast. Bringing everyone together under one film to unite it all was a pretty big risk for Marvel as fans might have been left feeling like neither was given enough air-time, but the finished film carries it all off superbly.
Simon Kinberg’s script is a great blend of serious dialogue, mind-bendingly impressive action and superp comic timing to create a new X-Men film that’s about as likeable as it could be without losing any of the intensity of the previous films. Having been teased at the end of The Wolverine (2013), there was a lot riding on the construction of the storyline and the dialogue throughout the film to deliver on the promises of the hype surrounding the film, but luckily for Marvel fans they’ve done it with time to spare.
The cast add to the tightly honed script with solid performances from most. Our favourite new addition has got to be Evan Peters, who delivers a sparkling performance as Peter Maximoff/Quicksilver thanks to a combination of great comic timing, a believable embodiment of supersonic speed and some class facial expressions. However, in terms of an acting masterclass the plaudits have got to go to Michael Fassbender once again, who brings the same dedication to authentic delivery to X-Men: Days Of Future Past as he has done previously to films like 12 Years A Slave.
That’s not to say that everything is perfect. The scene featuring Charles and Raven when they were children is clunky at best, and there are the occasional snippets of emotional dialogue that could have probably done with a bit more rigour from director Brian Singer, but in general there’s a whole lot to like about the cast’s performance.
Visuals and action scenes are second to none with slick movement and fight choreography interlaced with the kind of special effects that the term jaw dropping was invented for. Costumes and make-up are equally faultless in the most part and all of this results in the creation of a film about time travelling mutant humoids and men that have the power to pick up entire football stadiums like they’re lifting a blade of grass that seems genuinely plausible.
The only negative for us in terms of the costumes and make-up is that for some reason they still struggle in getting the look of Beast just right, so you kind of always feel like it’s Nicholas Hoult (or Kelsey Grammer) in costume, instead of the living and breathing incarnation of the big blue beast, which is a bit of a shame, because they managed to pull it off with Mystique so well. Maybe hair is their weak point.
We half expected the Sentinels to be a big sticking point for us too, having been so incredibly impacted by the styling of the comic book and TV show version, and while they do look different, it wasn’t as big a deal as we’d first thought. This is principally because the futuristic version of the sentinels are so phenomenally unstoppable that you can’t help but be impressed by them and the original batch from the 1970s is a throwback to how robots were imaged at the time so it all sort of fits. That’s said, we’d love to see an X-Men movie that actually pulls off getting the look of the comic book sentinels just right, along with the improvements to Hank’s azure fluffy side.
As it was shot in 3D it’s actually worth seeing it with the slightly more expensive option. Essentially, there’s only one way to improve on the visuals of Magneto lifting an entire stadium and that’s to throw in a little 3D visuals to the mix. It’s becoming increasingly clear that the 3D investment should only be made if the film was initially filmed in 3D, which wasn’t the case for Godzilla (2014), so it didn’t look quite as good, but thankfully Days Of Future Past doesn’t suffer from the same problem.
Sound is another big part of the success of the film, but it’s not just the quality of the effects that make it so memorable. Placing it in the early 70s means that there’s some pretty cool songs in the soundtrack from that era, picked out by brilliantly by John Ottman, including a stunning resurgence of Roberta Flack’s The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.
All of this comes together in more than 2 hours of action to create another excellent entry into the X-Men movie fold. With the Easter Egg tease at the end, we’re sure there’ll be plenty more films to look forward to, but this one will be tough to beat.
X-Men: Days Of Future Past review: 4.8/5