I’m going to start with a disclaimer: I really enjoy superhero movies.
They’re my way of having fun for a couple hours, shutting my brain off, and channeling my inner child who loved reading comics back in the 70s and 80s.
What do I look for in a superhero movie? Fun!
If I get more than that, as with films like The Dark Knight, then that’s a bonus, but in general, I don’t put comic book movies in the same league as an Orson Welles or Kubrick or Tarkovsky film.
I ask for distraction.
For my inner child to have some kicks.
Anything else is icing on the cake.
So onto the movie review, and I’ll try my best to avoid spoilers.
Days Of Future Past is indeed fun, so it passed my superhero film text.
That said, the film is a flawed gem.
The scope and ambition of the film are huge. It sets out to combine the casts of the original X-Men movies and the prequel, X-Men First Class; takes place in both a dystopian future as well as 1973; features the return of Bryan Singer as director, along with a mosaic of all your favourite mutants, and in it’s spare time, reboots the X-Men franchise, basically erasing the dreadful third X-Men film.
All in 134 minutes, and therein lies the flaw. The films ambitions are greater than that which it has time to deliver.
Unlike The Avengers for example, where you never really feel shortchanged on any of the characters that make up the ensemble cast of that film, Days Of Future Past leaves you wishing that just about everyone had more screen time, with the exception of Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, and Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique.
Unfortunately, by focusing the film so strongly on Wolverine and Mystique, I was left wanting more of James Mcavoy’s Professor X and Michael Fassbender’s Magneto, not to mention feeling that Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan had little more than elevated cameos. Those four actors playing those two characters in the same film should have been a goldmine of acting chops, engaging characters, moral ambiguity and great chemistry.
Similarly, Halle Berry was in the film playing Storm, but didn’t get any lines that I can recall, and there is a glimpse of Anna Paquin’s Rogue. Unless you turn your head for a second.
I get it. Jennifer Lawrence is enjoying immense popularity these days, and featuring her strongly is a great way to ensure the film will do well at the box office. Similarly, Jackman’s Wolverine is also arguably the most popular character in the franchise, so from a sales point of view, it makes sense giving these two a lot of screen time. Are they the best characters? The coolest mutants? The most accomplished actors in the film? Well, no not really.
BUT … it was still really fun.
Peter Dinklage, perhaps best known for his portrayal of Tyrion Lannister on Game Of Thrones manages to do quite a bit with his character, Bolivar Trask, despite having some pretty wooden dialogue to work with. Mind you, he’s one of those actors who could probably read the phone book and make it sound intriguing.
Patrick Stewart and James Macavoy are excellent as the young and old Charles Xavier, and you really do feel you are looking at a man at the opposite ends of his life. Everyone imagines a moment in their life when they would like to be able to talk to their younger self, and Stewart and Macavoy do a great job of realizing that.
Both Michael Fassbender and Ian McKellan have done excellent jobs in past films, turning the character of Magneto (who could easily become very one dimensional) into a sympathetic anti-hero rather than a villain. They probably would have done that in this film too if they had been given the chance.
The action scenes deliver, but that’s almost expected nowadays, and it’s character that will either make or break a film like this, and there’s just enough character in Days Of Future Past to make that happen.
In conclusion, if you liked the other X-Men films, you will probably enjoy this one.
Was it the truly epic story it could have been? No, not really.
But … was it fun? Heck yes!
Days Of Future Past is a lot of fun, and an enjoyable addition to the X-Men series.