Director Bryan Singer returns to the X-Men franchise with X-Men: Days of Future Past; a sort of sequel to Matthew Vaughn‘s refreshing prequel X-Men: First Class. Days of Future Past follows First Class in terms of further explaining the younger lives of Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr before they became two of the most important mutants of all-time, while also taking us into the future, showing us a grim and dark futuristic world that ties into the original series. Days of Future Past is the very definition of a well-balanced action flick that juggles dozens of important characters with a plot that spans over decades.
Days of Future Past follows The Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) as he gets sent back in time to help protect an evil army of mutant destroyers from ever being invented by Dr. Trask (Peter Dinklage). Old Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and Old Magneto (Ian McKellen) team up with the last remaining mutants to send Logan/The Wolverine back in time to meet up with their younger selves to convince them to work together again to stop Dr. Trask before it’s too late.
Director Bryan Singer returns to the series after abandoning ship post-X2. He brought the characters to life with the first X-Men and then mostly sat in the producers chair for the rest of the series’ brief ups (X-Men: First Class, The Wolverine) and all of its horrible downs (X3, X-Men Origins: Wolverine). Now, he’s returned with the original X-Men cast as well as the newcomers from First Class and combining both rosters makes for one tricky and difficult task, yet Singer mostly pulls it off, with the help of X-Men frontrunner Hugh Jackman as the ever so likable Wolverine.
Jackman provides Days of Future Past with a certain level of comfort and charm, which makes the action always bad ass and the comedic relief just right. The film is light enough when the mood calls for a change of pace, yet it tackles the mutant stuff rather seriously and keeps flowing at a constant rate. This is because Jackman has been playing Wolverine long enough to the point where you actually call him Logan and not Hugh Jackman. He’s mastered the character perfectly and gotten him to the point where you’ll watch anything with him in it, despite the quality.
Singer also puts most of the weight on his younger stars, meaning Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy. Together, the two shared a chemistry in X-Men: First Class that was so strong and so deeply connected that it made for the single best X-Men movie ever. And now they continue that brotherhood, only this time swapping emotional roles, with McAvoy’s Charles Xavier slipping down the dark rabbit hole and Fassbender’s Erik playing the much more confident and stable of the two.
Still, both play their good and bad cards much differently, but Days of Future Past definitely keeps things interesting with the role reversal, plus the fusing of the older stars as well.
This is where most thought Singer would drop the ball and drop it hard, because X3 wasn’t just a piss poor film, but it suffered from too many characters thrown into too much mindless action and the result was a confusing mess. Days of Future Past is much more focused on a simple agenda, while also expanding the size of the X-Men universe, by jumping back and forth between time.
Days of Future Past doesn’t work as well as First Class does in terms of character development, but it does succeed in a marvelous fashion as a big budget blockbuster film done right. First Class was the much quieter origins story, while Days of Future Past is the louder and more aggressive popcorn flick that still operates with a big enough brain attached. It gets silly at times, but never stupid and Singer does a splendid job keeping the film moving, despite the constant introduction of new/old characters.
It’s not quite as tightly structured as First Class, but Days of Future Past definitely juggles many more elements in terms of structuring a coherent time-traveling story with so many popular characters. Because of this hefty order, the running time does feel slightly sluggish at times, but director Bryan Singer does a fantastic job keeping everything well-rounded and purposeful, barely leaving in any extra flab as padding. Days of Future Past is as action-packed and story-oriented as it can be without feeling like too much to chew on at once.
There’s plenty to love in Days of Future Past and only very little to dislike. Fans of the series will enjoy this one and welcome more X-Men films from Singer, while those that have stayed away from the franchise might want to check this one out too.
If you liked First Class, then you’re going to enjoy Days of Future Past. I never cared too much for the original trilogy, aside from X2, yet I loved The Wolverine and X-Men: First Class and I thought Days of Future Past did a great job taking what worked from the original series and fusing it with the new batch of characters and actors, creating something fresh and exciting in a cinematic universe that has been around for over a decade.
X-Men: Days of Future Past isn’t the best X-Men film yet, but it’s a tie for second. Director Bryan Singer‘s return to the series is much more polished and sturdy than the flimsier installments that tend to give the overall series a bad name. Days of Future Past isn’t as perfect as First Class, but it comes very close and leaves things open for improvement and fine-tuning.
X-Men: Days of Future Past – 8.5/10