Back in 2000 Stan Lee’s X-Men made the leap from comics to the big screen in Bryan Singer’s blockbuster. Following a successful sequel, Brett Ratner took the reins of the disastrous X-Men: The Last Stand. It took Matthew Vaughn’s 2011 prequel, that saw fresh young talent take the lead, to raise the franchise from the ashes.
Sadly this year’s X-Men: Apocalypse failed the delight viewers, with a disappointing box office run and scathing reviews. But its time-bending processor, Days of Future Past, faired differently. With Bryan Singer back in the driver’s seat together with its all-star cast, it became the franchise’s most successful film to date.
In an apocalyptic future (that throws back memories of The Terminator) the human race has created super machines whose sole purpose is to destroy all mutants. Possessing the ability to steal any mutant power, they are unstoppable, forcing the few survivors to fall to desperate measures. The plan is to send Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back to the 1970s and prevent Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) assassinating Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage), an act which ultimately leads to the creation of the killing machines. This concept alone establishes a pretty glaring plot hole as Ellen Page’s Kitty Pryde, the girl who can walk through walls, is suddenly able to send people back in time. For things like this its best to relay on the old ”it’s only a movie” logic – you are watching a film about superheroes and time travel after all.
Wolverine wakes in 1973 tasked with bringing a depressed (and powerless) Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) back from the brink before they can change the future. It’s clear the filmmakers had a lot of fun re-creating the vintage setting. From the green lava lamp that welcomes Wolverine as he arrives in the past, to the golden oldie playing softly on the radio. This is what gives the film its charm, but it cannot prevent the plot from getting messy.
The confusing plot twists (just wait until the end) are enough to give anyone a headache and it’s tragic we learn so little about Trask, particularly when he’s played by an actor as talented as Peter Dinklage. Meanwhile Mystique’s relentless determination, that causes her to reject warnings from the time-travelling Wolverine, makes you rapidly lose sympathy for her. And yet for every disappointment there’s something to make amends such as that unforgettable prison break or the meeting between the young, despairing Xavier and his older self (Patrick Stewart).
James McAvoy gives a stand-out performance in a multi-talented cast, and who can forget Evan Peters’ scene-stealing role as a teenage Quicksilver that gives the film some of its most fun and memorable moments. Days of Future Past might be far from perfect but there’s enough action, humour and suspense to make you forget its failings.