31 May 2014

X-Men: Days of Future Past - Film Review

In the future, the war is no longer between mutants and other mutants, or between human and mutants. The war is between the mutants and their human allies and the sentinels; machines developed specifically to combat mutants, able to identify the mutant-X gene and given the power to change themselves so that they do not succumb to mutant powers. The mutants are losing the war, and only a few remain. With no more time and their luck running out, they have one last hope; Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) must send Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back to the 1970s to prevent Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from assassinating the scientist who created the sentinels.

Rewind to the 1970s, 10 years after the events in X-Men: First Class, and Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) is a powerless, alcoholic mess, hiding away with Beast (Nicholas Hoult) in his home. Mystique is already set on her mission to destroy Dr. Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage), the man who has already experimented and killed many of her mutant friends in his attempt to fight them. Eric Lensherr/ Magneto (Michael Fassbender) is being kept in a high security prison at the heart of the pentagon after executing a high-profile assassination. Wolverine must bring all these people together and convince them that Trask must be saved in order for the sentinels to never exist.

The film is all-action, hardly pausing for breath. The initial scene is an epic fight sequence between the remaining X-Men and the sentinels, culminating in a confusing shift where it all seems never to have happened. In fact, the whole plot could get really confusing, but the film makers have done an excellent job of making it obvious what has happened; where time shifts have occurred and how the powers work. The explanations are in no way long-winded, meaning that they don't infringe on the plot and the pacing. Expect a lot of visual effects and awesome fight scenes, as well as some cool new characters.

Speaking of characters, this film has a massive cast. The addition of new mutants, such as the comic relief Quicksilver (Evan Peters) actually makes this film a lot more interesting, but it is fair to say that Quicksilver should have had more of a role because his involvement was pure brilliance. Also, for any comic-fans out there, there's a certain line that is sure to amuse you when he meets Magneto. I am afraid to say that Quicksilver's involvement in Marvel's Avengers 2 may fall short due to this depiction of the character. 

Fans of all the films will love the way that the old school and new school cast have been combined in this film to make both sets of films more cohesive. Well.. ish. However, quite a few will be thinking 'but didn't Professor X die in The Last Stand?', and the answer is yes, he did. But he managed to save his consciousness by going into the mind of a patient at a hospital. This in no way makes up for the fact that he still has his own body in Days of Future Past. As of yet, I haven't found an explanation for that obvious goof and have to conclude that this is meant to be in a separate Marvel Universe. Anyway, the awesomeness of seeing both versions of several characters, as well as cameos from Rogue, Jean Grey, Scott Summers and appearances from Colossus, Iceman, Storm and Stryker really make this film a fans dream.

So anyway, the acting was fairly good, with the most convincing portrayals by James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence and Hugh Jackman. However, McAvoy stand out as the clear winner of the acting trophy, as he plays a character that is struggling to deal with the loss of his childhood friend, the deaths of his newer friends and the loss of his legs. 

I had an issue though. I just couldn't find it in my heart to see Bolivar Trask as a villain. Maybe that was the point, and maybe it is also due to the fact that as Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones, Peter Dinklage could never be a villain. Instead, I saw Trask as a Doctor who was trying to save his species, while all the while having serious issues with his dwarfism, making him prone to overdoing it. 

Ultimately, the film is brilliant for anyone who loves action and superheroes. It completely reboots the franchise, almost making up for the anomalies and mistakes in the previous films while paving the way for some new material. I don't think we will be seeing the older generation of X-Men again, but it was nice having them around. This film gets a 9 out of 10.