X-Men: Days Of Future Past - Cinema Review

'draws heavily on the J. J. Abrams Star Trek example for inspiration, simply but relatively ingeniously creating a narrative that accepts dual timelines, massaging a new story into place, whilst an old one remains undamaged'

'How do we combine Hugh Jackman as Wolverine and the entire cast of X-Men: First Class?', you can almost hear some clever marketing bod saying as the exposition of X-Men: Days Of Future Past kicks into gear. Whilst there is attractive nostalgia from seeing Patrick Stuart and Ian McKellen in their Professor X and Magneto roles, there's little doubt that the red hot Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy are much more audience friendly names to focus on. How then do you wangle a plot for a new X-Men film that manages to pair those two up again whilst drawing in the box office of the still-perfectly cast Jackman, and further still leveraging the fan base and aforementioned nostalgia which Stuart and McKellen did much to establish?

The solution draws heavily on the J. J. Abrams Star Trek example for inspiration, simply but relatively ingeniously creating a narrative that accepts dual timelines, massaging a new story into place, whilst an old one remains undamaged. Jackman gets to run about with the young guns whilst Stuart and McKellen - and the less popular likes of Halle Berry - still get something to do in support. Days Of Future Past pulls off the same sequel/reboot trick that Star Trek managed, only with even more of a knowing nod at, and development of, the existing lore.

That fact though is frankly secondary to the amount of fun written into place once Wolverine makes it back to the 1970s and director Bryan Singer gets to pair the best character with the best cast. With a delightful reversal of roles, Wolverine becomes sage adviser (albeit maintaining a temper and a one-liner), with Charles (McAvoy) and Erik (Fassbender) cast as hot-headed youngsters and/or broken, sceptical teachers. The central three-way, with support from Nicholas Hoult's Beast, anchor the film with each superb in their place, even if Erik does perhaps go through one or two too many changes of heart.

Central story developed, Singer threads the rest of the tale with things that matter rather than superfluous cameos, something this franchise has always struggled with. Quicksilver (Evan Peters) may be a fairly useless character in terms of how much he features in the plot, but the director ensures he at least has something to do, giving him the best piece of action, which ends up being a field-leading candidate for scene of the year. Mystique now has the bonus of being played by Jennifer Lawrence but it always felt as though there was more to her than the original films were willing to admit. Here she becomes emblematic of the dialogue between peaceful Charles and violent Erik, a gauge for the audience of how much each star's point of view is worthwhile and an attractive rebel in her own right.

There's also real threat here, something superhero films as a whole are still struggling to create, even after over a decade in power as the box office genre of choice. The murderous opening, in a glum dystopia, signals that everything is at stake with a level of expertise Singer has shown only rarely recently. By the end the series as a whole has worked hard enough now to keep you guessing about character's fates, whilst this film individually may provide just a handful of answers too many. At least it is willing to have fun whilst doing so.





By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

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