15th May2014

‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Patrick Stewart, James McAvoy, Ian McKellan, Michael Fassbender, Hugh Jackman, Jennifer Lawrence, Halle Berry, Bingbing Fan, Shawn Ashmore, Ellen Page, Peter Dinklage | Written by Simon Kinberg | Directed by Bryan Singer


It was with trepidation that I approached the gigantic BFI IMAX screen for this week’s screening of X-Men: Days of Future Past. Since X-Men broke the mould of cheesy 90s superhero films with their first modern outing 14 years ago, we’ve seen ground-breaking efforts from the likes of Batman and Spider-Man. With superhero fans now spoilt for choice, expectations are high for the latest outing of Marvel staples, the X-Men.

X-Men: Days of Future Past opens in a futuristic world, where mutants are forced to do battle with relentless machines called sentinels. The sentinels are teutonic robots, constructed by humans to control the mutant population and possess the ability to adopt the characteristics of any enemy almost instantly. We’re introduced to a gaggle of recognisble protaganists; Storm (Halle Berry), Professor X (Patrick Stewart), Blink (Bingbing Fan), Iceman (Shawn Ashmore) and of course, the infamous Wolverine (Hugh Jackman).

The premise of the film is a mixture between the final Matrix outing and Inception. The sentinel machines which plague our infamous superheroes are winning their battle; killing off each mutant through imitation until Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) transports everybody back in time a few days so they can commence battle again. This loop of events cannot continue, so they decide to elect Wolverine to travel back to 1972 and change history and thus the existence of sentinel machines altogether.

The chain of events that this triggers introduces a raft of new characters, portraying numerous X-Men from 50 years before. Luckily, the young Wolverine known as Logan is still played by Jackman and is tasked with uniting the young Professor X and Magneto (known as Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr in the 70s), despite both harbouring a deep hatred for each other. James McAvoy delivers a strong performance as Charles, and his battle with addiction is certainly a stand-out during the film. It soon transpires that Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) is key to stopping the future sentinels from destroying the X-Men, and also provides the source of friction between Charles and Erik.

The scenes featuring Lawrence soon become a highlight, and not for the obvious reasons. The CGI in X-Men: Day of Future Past is astounding and the shape-shifting of Mystique underlines the work that’s gone into bringing the X-Men to life. Her appearances also inevitably lead to the most action-packed sequences as she sets about chasing down Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) who orchestrated the design of the sentinel machines. Sadly, we don’t see Dinklage stretch his acting capabilities to the extent seen on Game of Thrones, but he is well cast in the role.

The film follows something of a roller-coaster plot, jumping between future and past (clue’s in the title) and there have been claims that the film is confusing and disjointed. Personally, I found the story simple enough to follow and felt the jolts between the world of Logan, Charles and Erik and the tense atmosphere building up in the future were not so frequent as to become frustrating. Granted, there are a lot of characters introduced in this particular installment, but the fact that director Bryan Singer decided not to dwell too long on each one means the pacing is tight. The film clocks in at a respectable 131 minutes and I didn’t find myself looking at my watch once.

All in all, the latest X-Men film is an enjoyable peek into the history of Professor X and Magneto. It’s a well paced film that offers cutting-edge action sequences, whilst also not taking itself too seriously. Highly recommended for both X-Men aficionados and casual action fans alike.

X-Men: Day of Future Past  is released across the UK on Thursday May 22nd.


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