Director: Bryan Singer
Running Time: 131 mins
Cast: Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Peter Dinklage
I’m writing this review at midnight, half an hour after seeing X-Men: Days of Future Past. These are my immediate feelings about Bryan Singer’s mutant epic. And my initial thought is: X-Men DOFP is OK. Not great, but OK. The problem with this is that OK is pretty disappointing for an X-Men fan like me. Here’s why:
Days of Future Past has a simple story at its heart. The near future has turned to crap and the X-Men send Wolverine’s consciousness back in time to 1973 to stop an event that directly results in the aforementioned shitty future. It’s your basic time travel plot, the movie is essentially Quantum Leap without the funky theme tune. Disappointingly at no point does Wolverine ever exclaim ‘Oh boy!’.
DOFP wears its influences on its sleeve right from the start. There’s hints of The Matrix, a smidgen of The Terminator, and shades of The Avengers. The plot means we get to see action in the two time periods, with the present day X-Men fighting super Sentinels and their 1970s selves caught up in a murder plot and lots of period injokes. It’s this setup that causes some of the problems that stop the film being great.
Proceedings start off brilliantly with a high tempo, imaginative battle in the future between mutants including Bishop and Blink and the deadly Sentinels. It’s an excellent scene and demonstrates just how dangerous the Sentinels are and why it’s so important that Wolverine succeeds in his task. This leads to the inevitable exposition section, and then Wolvie gets to the 70s. From here there are some fun scenes including Logan kicking asses and an enjoyable prison break.
After this the film loses its way somewhat. Plot holes are abundant and our heroes perform actions that are completely out of character. The writers’ attempts to give everyone a character arc bogs the movie down. Large swathes of time seem to be devoted to the various protagonists convincing each other of the right thing to do. It’s what makes Wolverine so much fun. He behaves consistently, you know where you are with him, and you like spending time with him. When he isn’t onscreen though, the gears start to grind and the entire piece threatens to fall apart.
Positive aspects of the movie include great performances from the main cast, some lovely scenes such as when the two professors meet across time, Blink’s super cool portal power, and a couple of fantastic fight scenes with Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique. However these events are few and that’s just not good enough for an X-Men movie. This series live or dies on its action and script and neither of these are all that memorable in the film. Basically I hold this series to a higher standard than other franchises.
DOFP suffers greatly from bad pacing and poor writing. Structurally it’s all over the place, the action varies greatly in quality, there is no proper antagonist, and the film tries to cram too much into the running time. If X-Men: First Class was two steps forward for the franchise then Days of Future Past is one step back. It has a lot of good stuff in it but if you’re expecting a return to the excellence of X2 then you might be disappointed.
Agree? Think i’m a jaded, joyless loser? Let me know below. An if you’d like a recap of all Wolverine’s adventures then be sure to checkout Screenkicker Live’s two minute animated history of Wolverine.