The X-Men have always been a favorite of mine, as I grew up watching their various animated shows and even reading some of their comics. The characters and their mutations are fascinating enough, but the bigger messages that the comics send are what set the X-Men apart. The X-Men were a symbol for civil rights and they pushed for a society that accepts those who are different and that doesn’t see in black and white. A society that didn’t fear, but rather tried to understand and embrace. Many of the characters reflect different aspects of oppression and the pain and suffering they deal with seems unbearable, especially when they’re actively fighting for the preservation of all of humanity. You’ll see these themes and more elaborated on in this film and it’s spectacular.
In the future, mutants and humans who aid the mutants have been hunted down and killed by morphing enemies known as Sentinels. The entire world banded together to eradicate the mutants, seeing them as a threat to humanity. Scientist Boliver Trask (Peter Dinklage) created the sentinels, but his death by the hands of Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) prompted the advancement of the program. Now, only a handful of mutants remain and they have a plan to right the past and create a brighter future. Among the living mutants, Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellen) have joined forces and minds to send Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back to the 70’s to convince their younger selves to stop Mystique. With the use of Kitty Pryde’s (Ellen Page) ability to send people’s consciousness back in time, the remaining mutants, including Storm (Halle Berry) and Iceman (Shawn Ashomre) entrust their fate in Wolverines hands.
When Wolverine wakes up, he’s freaking out as a result of the culture shock. Things look and feel different and he only has his bone claws at this time. Wolverine seeks out a younger Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), but finds the shell of a man whose life has gone to hell. Ever since he lost his ability to walk and the people he cared most for, Charles sulks around his house, accompanied by Beast (Nicholas Hoult). With some forceful persuasion, Charles agrees to help Wolverine, but they’ll also need the help of a younger Erik/Magneto (Michael Fassbender). Unfortunately, getting Erik out from underneath the Pentagon will take an act of god, or the super speed of a younger Quicksilver (Evan Peters). Still indifferent in their goals, Charles and Erik have their own ideas of how to preserve their species and how to handle Mystique, a woman who’s had a great effect on both the men. With the Vietnam war ending and a new enemy need, Trask plans to get his Sentinels in production to defeat the mutants in the world. To defeat this enemy, the X-Men will need to band together to do what’s right and best for civilization, before their future’s are set in stone.
X-Men: Days of Future Past sought to combine the characters and stories from X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men: First Class, and The Wolverine, and it does that with excellence. For all the plot holes that could (and may still exist) exist, this film manages to fill those with dialogue and events that allow for a refreshing of the last films and characters who can have fun with this new time-travelling conundrum. Though this film is not as action-heavy as most would like/expect, Days of Future Past focuses all its time on the characters we know (young and old) and how they unite for a common cause. Their teamwork and mission is incredibly enjoyable to watch and all of the performances and powers leave a big impact.
Much of this film is carried on Hugh Jackman’s shoulders, as he’s the one sent back to warn the others. Watching his reactions to the past and the eventual friends/enemies he’d make is really amusing, but also touching in some ways too. Jackman tones his character down his masculinity in this film, as he’s without his adamantium bone structure and he needs to rely on his emotions to convey how imperative it is that the mutants work together. He’s a character full of pain and suffering and we really get to see that here. Despite Wolverine being the most popular of the X-Men, it was really great to see him back with Halle Berry and Shawn Ashmore, as the two also have great on-screen presences. With Kitty and her new band of powerful misfits, they provide a lot of great action and their combining of powers makes for quite the spectacle.
It’s always lovely watching Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen work together in the X-Men films and seeing their more emotional sides in this film really speaks to the friendship that Professor X and Magneto have. However, it’s McAvoy and Fassbender who are the shining stars of this film, as their past complicated friendship allows for a lot of character building and questions of morality. McAvoy is the more broken (internally and externally) of the two, but Fassbender’s rage and pain are just as commanding. Both play off of their fellow mutants well and their relationships with Lawrence make for some exhilarating sequences. All three have their own agendas and methods of carrying out their plans, but they’re all susceptible to one another and in those fragile moments, you understand these characters and their motivations.
Director Bryan Singer has really outdone himself this time around and he does a masterful job of weaving stories and evoking the best emotion from his cast. His care for the X-Men and everything they stand for just furthers our love for them and he nails the social commentary on the head. The truth that lies within fear and our perception of things that are different have always played a large role in the X-Men comics and their possible extinction reflects society’s outcasting and imprisonment/execution of those who are different or pose a threat. The stakes are high in this film and there was never a time where I felt everyone was safe. We get all sides of the story this time around and it’s amazing how well each perspective resonates with the audience. Singer knows just what to show to have your emotions all over the place and his powerful imagery really makes a lasting impression.
The sound and visuals in this film are top-notch and they play a large role in shaping the tone of the film. The special effects make the mutant powers look the best they’ve ever looked and everything is fluid. Though there aren’t too many large action sequences, every time a mutant’s on-screen, you know something cool is going to happen. As far as the audio goes, every use of power sounds wonderful and the score, composed by John Ottman (who also edited the film), heighten the emotion that the actors have and they further your emotional investment in this film. One of the best moments in the film come from the combination of outstanding visuals involving Quicksilver and the fun music that accompanies his antics. It’s also really cool to see how the X-Men use their powers together to fight their enemies, as they create some cool combinations of moves that look really impressive.
I know that a lot of people aren’t going to share my adoration for X-Men: Days of Future Past, but if you can look at the heart of this film, I hope you can realize that it’s the best X-Men film there’s been. The film doesn’t have to rely on big fights to convey its message and it’s because of that, that this film feels so real. The characters and their emotions are fantastic and I love these characters. This combination of old and new worked much better than anyone could have expected and it’s a joy to watch the cast work together. The X-Men stand for everyone who’s been oppressed and feared for being different and that’s never been more clear than it is in this film. Though there’s a sequel coming soon, this film works on its own as an independent piece that wipes the slate clean and allows for the possibility to do even bigger and better things.
X-Men: Days of Future Past Trailer