X-Men: Days of Future Past Movie Review
Two casts, one cup. Bryan Singer returns to the franchise he started to take on several daunting tasks: combine two casts, tackle one of the most celebrated and complex X-Men storylines, and don't completely mess up in the process. He largely succeeds, but don't expect the explosive, action-packed sequel that's been promised.
X-Men: Days of Future Past is perhaps the franchise's best made film... but that doesn't mean it's the best of the series. Well written and superbly acted, the movie makes good use of Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellan, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence, all of whom deliver strong performances (oh, and Tyrion... er, Peter Dinklage).
Performances are especially important with this entry as it is by far the most story-driven of all the X-Men movies. The movie shifts between past and present, blending the various settings and story arcs quite well. Singer dwells longingly on the young Professor Xavier (James McAvoy), who struggles to come to terms with the fact that he has not only lost the use of his legs, but also his friends and everything he held dear. Beast (Nicholas Hoult) for some reason continues to hang out with him, despite him being a complete downer.
The story's focus on character and the decisions one must make (Jennifer Lawrence's Mystique faces major consequences for her actions, while Magneto, played primarily by Michael Fassbender, also must choose his path... again) lend themselves to some relatively weighty performances.
It also comes at the expense of action, of which X-Men: Days of Future Past is surprisingly lacking. While the movie has some memorable sequences--a prison break led by Quicksilver (Evan Peters) is a ton of fun, and Magneto establishes he isn't much of a baseball fan--much of the action takes place in the apocalyptic future, where the Sentinels have driven mutants to the edge of extinction.
Unfortunately, the future is woefully underdeveloped, which means the characters in this future world (including Colossus, Bishop, Blink, Kitty Pryde and Iceman) are woefully underdeveloped, which means their lives and deaths are largely inconsequential, which means this has turned into a run-on sentence. The future world Singer establishes is awesome, but it really needed a movie all to itself; this is one of those rare instances where I would argue that doing a two- or three-part movie series would have played to the story's advantage.
X-Men fans may also be disappointed to learn that with exception to a few moments early on, Wolverine isn't much of a badass; without his adamantium, he's more bark than bite. Or claw.
And finally, the big climax isn't nearly as thrilling as you'd expect.
Despite its lack of action, X-Men: Days of Future Past is a well made, well written movie. It isn't as good as X2: X-Men United, but it successfully blends the original movies with X-Men: First Class and sets the stage for a new wave of mutant goodness for years to come.
Two casts, one cup, no problem.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.