Review: X-Men: Days of Future Past (potential SPOILERS)

X-Men: Days of Future Past is an impressive achievement. It’s an epic superhero action film, hits great notes in terms of themes and characters, and it weaves a complex plot and massive cast together with intelligence. Most importantly, it’s a lovely and elegiac last chapter of the beloved franchise while simultaneously welcoming a new era of X-Men films.

The film begins with a nightmare vision of the future in 2023. In a scene paralleling the start of 2000’s X-Men, we see that Magneto’s fears were completely justified. Mutants are slaughtered or imprisoned in concentration camps by Sentinel robots, and the world’s major cities are devastated and ruined.

From there we’re introduced to the X-Men of the future as they fight to survive. Magneto (Ian McKellan), Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart), Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), Storm (Halle Berry), Iceman (Shawn Ashmore), Colossus (Daniel Cudmore) and Kitty Pryde (Ellen Paige) are joined by some new mutants: Blink, Sunspot, Warpath and Bishop.

In a desperate bid to erase the apocalyptic nightmare they live in, a plot is hatched to send Wolverine’s consciousness back in time to his younger self in 1973, in order to stop a pivotal event that triggers the Sentinel takeover: the assassination of Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage).

Wolverine encounters Professor Xavier’s 1973 self (James McAvoy), who has become a heartbroken lay-about. Together with the Beast (Nicholas Hoult) and Peter Evans as “Peter” (better known to X-Men readers as Quicksilver), they struggle to prevent both Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) and young Magneto (Michael Fassbinder) from causing the events that lead to the future of 2023.

The action and special effects were excellent. The battles in 2023 showcasing the powers of the new team members were exciting. There’s an amazing scene with Quicksilver that will have fans clamoring for more of the character, and will put some pressure on the Avengers’ version of Quicksilver to be nearly as cool. The blighted future was reminiscent of others we’ve seen in movies such as Terminator and The Matrix, yet the global scope and the design of the Sentinels were unique touches. The 1973 setting was executed with charm.

Performances were all spot on; James McAvoy perhaps is the one to watch here. Jennifer Lawrence gave nuance to Mystique’s determination and inner conflicts. Jackman’s Wolverine is of course the pivotal character here, and he didn’t disappoint. And McKellan and Stewart are both excellent as they reconciled their opposing moral outlooks and their friendship.

(Possible major spoiler) the results of the time-travel plot may surprise you—it will please some people for sure— and it opens doors to new possibilities.

Above all, Days of Future Past refreshingly shows our heroes seeking alternatives to using their power for destructive acts and pointless fights. While Marvel is always accused of being “darker” and “grittier” than DC, this time around we were presented with an example of the superheroic ideal that was completely lacking in Man of Steel.
Hopefully you don’t need to be told to stay after the end credits, which set up the next X-Men film.

What did you think of Days of Future Past? Did you like the way it ended? Are you looking forward to X-Men: Apocalypse? And, what exactly was John F. Kennedy’s mutant power?
- Nico Lorentzen

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