Too many chefs can spoil the broth, or too many stars can dirty the pool. And with not only the return of Bryan Singer to the director’s chair, but Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen and the never-really-gone Hugh Jackman, this superior gene pool has not been sullied.
Taking place anywhere between 11 and 52 years after X-Men’s retro reboot in X-Men: First Class, Days of Future Past masterfully weaves together the two series of X-Men – albeit with an alternate timeline – and loosely follows the iconic 1981 comicbook story-arc of the same name. In present day, the world is a dystopian nightmare of mutant hunting robots, the Sentinels, and what few remaining mutants the world has left – no signs of humans are in sight. As mutants die one-by-one, the original cast of X-Men appears to explain that they have no future here, and must travel back in time to stop the event that unleashed the Sentinels in the place – an assassination in 1973.
If you think this could get complex and messy, it’s a fair assessment. Between the potentially convoluted plotline and the sheer mass of monolithic personalities – Steward, McKellen, Jackman, but also James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence – Homo Superior could stand to come out as Homo Grandiose. But keeping sight of the X-Men’s underlying themes (persecution, emancipation, cohabitation, understanding, survival) while balancing character has always been the X-Men franchise’s strength (sans X-Men 3). Days of Future Past doesn’t lose sight of anything and one ups the excellent First Class by dispensing with the period piece jokes.
By making a great comic-adaptation with all the requisite action and encouraging us to care about all the characters both good and “evil” (which was always an ambiguous concept in X-Men), some of whom haven’t appeared in the franchise for years, Days of Future Past proves itself the best instalment so far.
X-Men: Days of Future Past | Directed by Bryan Singer (USA 2014) with Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence. Starts May 22