Review: X-Men: Days of Future Past


Director:Bryan Singer

Cast:Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult

Running Time:131.00


Well, they pulled it off. Days of Future Past, one of the darkest and most complicated stories in the Marvel universe, has been successfully translated to the screen. This is no small feat. With its time travel elements, it could have easily been bogged down in exposition. But thanks to tremendous action, editing and acting, it's arguably the best X-Men film ever.

The film begins in the distant future, when nearly all mutants have been executed or imprisoned. A small band of rebels, featuring some familiar faces (Iceman, Colossus) continue to fight against the terrifying Sentinels sent to destroy them. But to end the losing battle, Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellen) have Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) send Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back in time to stop the Sentinels from ever being deployed.

Now obviously it gets a little convoluted here, with timelines folding on top of each other. But there's just enough exposition to explain what's going on (and yes it's tough to hear Jackman simply be a plot summarizer for much of the first half) without derailing the momentum of the film.

Days of Future Past works in part because it manages to strike the perfect balance of action, humor and terror. The movie doesn't shy away from death and destruction. But it's never too grim. Evan Peters is essential comic relief as Quicksilver, who helps break Erik (Michael Fassbender) out of prison in the best scene of the year.

It also helps that the younger characters, including Charles (James McAvoy) and Raven (Jennifer Lawrence), are morally ambiguous. Their motives are above reproach, even when their actions are not. Plus, it's hard not to hate Oliver Trask (Peter Dinklage), who always conveys evil despite his diminutive frame.

Stripping away all the costumes and superpowers and time travel, this is a story about redemption and free will. There's a tremendous scene near the end where Charles has nearly killed himself trying to force Raven to rethink the murder she's about to commit. It's then he realizes that you can't make someone turn from a bad path. All you can do is guide them toward a better one.

If I have a complaint about Days of Future Past, it's that the peripheral characters are completely disposable. They're essentially human shields, which is a little disappointing. I've been dying to see Bishop onscreen since I was a kid, and they've got a great actor in Omar Sy. But to see him do nothing more than fire his gun in anger is a letdown.

But these are minor complaints for a comic book film that gets pretty much everything right. It's dark when it needs to be but never feels like it's trying to hit above its weight. It's definitely not for kids, and it feels like it's been a long time since I could say that about a non-Batman movie. 

X-Men: Days of Future Past makes up for The Last Stand, improves upon First Class and sets up a grand finale (Apocalypse, due in 2016) while standing on its own. It feels like a true event, not just another installment on the way to something else. 


About Kip Mooney

Kip Mooney
Like many film critics born during and after the 1980s, my hero is Roger Ebert. The man was already the best critic in the nation when he won the Pulitzer in 1975, but his indomitable spirit during and after his recent battle with cancer keeps me coming back to read not only his reviews but his insightful commentary on the everyday. But enough about a guy you know a lot about. I knew I was going to be a film critic—some would say a snob—in middle school, when I had to voraciously defend my position that The Royal Tenenbaums was only a million times better than Adam Sandler’s remake of Mr. Deeds. From then on, I would seek out Wes Anderson’s films and avoid Sandler’s like the plague. Still, I like to think of myself as a populist, and I’ll be just as likely to see the next superhero movie as the next Sundance sensation. The thing I most deplore in a movie is laziness. I’d much rather see movies with big ambitions try and fail than movies with no ambitions succeed at simply existing. I’m also a big advocate of fun-bad movies like The Room and most of Nicolas Cage’s work. In the past, I’ve written for The Dallas Morning News and the North Texas Daily, which I edited for a semester. I also contributed to Dallas-based Pegasus News, which in the circle of life, is now part of The Dallas Morning News, where I got my big break in 2007. Eventually, I’d love to write and talk about film full-time, but until that’s a viable career option, I work as an auditor for Wells Fargo. I hope to one day meet my hero, go to the Toronto International Film Festival, and compete on Jeopardy. Until then, I’m excited to share my love of film with you.

Leave a Reply