What happens when you take, arguably, the most iconic storyline in the history of X-Men comics, the man who defined the film series, and one of the most impressively assembled casts in recent cinema history? You get Bryan Singer’s triumphant return to the X-Men franchise, X-Men: Days of Future Past, a film of breath-taking ambition, a deceptive blockbuster that illustrates the best of what superhero cinema should be, when it finds that perfect note between darkness and light.

Opening in a future where robotic super Sentinels have hunted mutant kind to the brink of extinction, the remaining X-Men hatch a plan to send the consciousness of a team member back in time to 1973, in order to change a single event that starts the chain leading to this dark and hopeless future. It’s a credit to screenwriter Simon Kinsberg that this dual narrative never descends into the usual pitfalls of time travel tales. Rather than becoming an impossible labyrinth, the film is sharp, empowered with purpose and direction, anchored by the core relationships at the heart of the film.

Visually, the film is an absolute delight to behold. From the very first scenes, Singer displays a level of freedom in his choices, returning to the world he helped define with glee and bravado, taking what could have been a sombre Nolan-esque tone piece without personality (Man of Steel, I’m looking at you), and instead imbuing the film with a sense of energy, buoyed by creativity and a humour that allows fun to flirt with the serious. The ultimate example of this can be seen in the film’s standout sequence, Quicksilver’s raid on the Pentagon. With a confidence reminiscent of Nightcrawler’s assault on the White House in X2, Singer delivers a flamboyant display of creativity and purpose; in a sense, this sequence represents the best of the film – exuberant, wry, suspenseful and dynamic.

Where First Class was dominated by Erik, Days of Future Past is the redemption of Charles Xavier, from his lowest ebb, into the man who inspires and brings hope to all of his kind. As such, McAvoy is the beating heart of the film, and delivers a performance full of contrasting emotions – the bile and venom of a man who has lost his best friends to hatred and seen his dream broken, and an overwhelming love for those dearest to him. In truth, this is an ensemble film that multiple standout players; Fassbender plays the conflict and superiority of Erik with an almost nonchalant cool, Hugh Jackman delivers his finest portrayal of Logan yet, balancing the snarl with a stoic nature befitting his hero status, while Jennifer Lawrence, Peter Dinklage, Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen all bring their substantial talents to reduced, but crucial roles in the overall piece. (In fact, there’s another edit of the film slated for a 2015 release that includes extra footage and plot strands, notably the character of Rogue).In a genre where more often leads to less focus and an over reliance on effect laden battles (Spider-Man 3, I’m also looking at you), Days of Future Past is a compelling, concise example of how to craft an ensemble epic.

X-Men: Days of Future Past is perhaps the most impressive achievement of the series to date. It’s hard to separate between this film and X-2 as to the standout film in the series, but unquestionably its scope, execution and showcase of the X-Men universe mark it as both one of the most eye-catching offerings this year, and one of the most intriguing films in the entire genre.

 

DVD Review - X-Men: Days Of Future Past
A thrilling, and thoughtful, addition to the superhero genre
5.0Overall Score
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About The Author

Matthew Hammond is a full time cinephile, specializing in cult, art house and 1980’s cinema. While film is his overwhelming passion, Matthew has been known to enjoy comic books, Sherlock Holmes stories and a good film related T-shirt. Feel free to email me with any questions or comments: mattpaul61@o2.co.uk