Wednesday, 12 November 2014

X-Men: Days of Future Past

I've always loved the X-Men. When other kids were all over Batman and Superman back in the day, the X-Men were my go-to superheroes. Though I read a few of the comics, my general source of all things X-Men related was the 1992 cartoon. You know the one, right? I used to get up early every Saturday to watch it. Complete with its awesome theme song and great animation, it's still the first thing I think about when I hear the name “X-Men”. Then I got into the film series that was started in 2000. It spawned sequels and spin-offs, and while I did enjoy them, as the series went on it dished out some real clunkers like X-Men: The Last Stand and the abysmal X-Men Origins: Wolverine. That said, a semi-reboot of the franchise occurred with the excellent X-Men: First Class in 2011. It told the origin story of how the X-Men came about, featuring both younger versions of Magneto and Xavier. However, with 20th Century Fox seemingly unable to work out which era of the X-Men that want to focus on, this latest addition to the franchise aims to merge both eras together. While it's pretty much the best film in the series thus far, it also manages to further muddy up the overarching time-line in the series. But that's OK, as all that goes out of the window next to a good story.

Directed by Bryan Singer and out now on Blu-Ray and DVD comes X-Men: Days of Future Past, a return to form for the series, and a film that has me dying to see the next entry in the X-Men universe- and I haven't said that since 2003! Days of Future Past opens up in the future, and it's a future in which both humans and mutants alike are being exterminated by robots known as Sentinels. Our heroes are clearly fighting a losing battle here, but there's one last ditch attempt to save the day- time travel. The Sentinels were created by Bolivar Trask back in 1973, and after he was assassinated by Mistique her DNA was taken and used to upgrade the Sentinels, leading to the virtually unstoppable robots of the future. But Days of Future Past doesn't rely on classic time travel, as rather than physically sending someone back in time, our heroes merely send back the consciousness of Wolverine to 1973. Remember, as Wolverine can't die or technically grow old, he was alive and well back in the 70's. Once sent back, Wolverine needs to convince a young Charles Xavier to help. However, that's easier said than done, as in the wake of X-Men: First Class the X-Men no longer exist.

First off, after going back to the roots of the X-Men, the decision to adapt the comic book storyline Days of Future Past is a stroke of genius. This ties together both the original cast (Hugh Jackman, Patrick Strewart and Ian McKellen) and the new cast (James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence and Michael Fassbender), and it makes for one of the best superhero films to date. Performances are superb throughout, especially that of Jackman, McAvoy and Fassbender, who make for an incredible trio on screen. From the initial meeting Wolverine has with Xavier in which Xavier drunkenly tells him to “Fuck off!”, Xavier's resentment of Magneto for taking Mistique away from him, and Magneto's escape from his prison cell beneath the Pentagon, any scene these characters share is highly watchable. Also, though most of the action takes place in 1973 during Mistique's attempt to assassinate Trask, the action regularly cuts to the future in which our heroes are being hunted down by Sentinels. With nowhere to run to and protecting Wolverine's body (while his mind is in 1973) being their number one priority, the mutants we all know and love have their very own last stand. It's compelling, moving, action packed and, if you've been with them on this journey since 2000, is genuinely emotional. The stakes are so incredible high, and not everyone is going to make it.

As much as the film tries and correct certain inconsistencies prevalent in the series, it only confuses the time-line even more. I'm not picking solely on this film though, as the entire series is a complete clusterf*ck of inconsistencies. But while watching Days of Future Past don't expect any reason as to why Kitty Pride (aka that chick from Juno-who can run through walls) can send people back in time, why Wolverine suddenly has his Adamantium claws back, how Xavier is alive in the future or why there is a new actor playing Bolivar Trask. Days of Future Past creates as many plot-holes as it mends, but that has been a problem with the franchise as a whole. And you know what? I don't care. I don't care that it can be picked apart in the continuity department, as at the end of the day it's all meaningless compared to the story, characters and the journey this series has taken me on. Days of Future Past is the pinnacle of this journey.

Overall X-Men: Days of Future Past is neck and neck with X2 as the best of the series. It's jam packed full of tremendous action set pieces, superb banter between certain key characters, emotional moments that outshine any other Marvel film, and a jail break scene involving Quicksilver that is truly a jaw-dropping spectacle. Days of Future Past brings together two eras of X-Men in an imperfect way that's full of plot-holes, but it's still one of the best superhero films to date. Bloody brilliant stuff!

X-Men: Days of Future Past corrects the history of bad X-Men films and gets a 5/5.


Denis Murphy

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