D: Bryan Singer. DP: Newton Thomas Sigel. W: Simon Kinberg. Starring: Hugh Jackman/James McAvoy/Michael Fassbender/Jennifer Lawrence/Patrick Stewart/Ian McKellan/Peter Dinklage/Nicholas Hoult/Halle Berry/Shawn Ashmore/Ellen Page/Evan Peters/Omar Sy/Bingbing Fan.
One could spend countless afternoons debating the chronology of the last decade of Marvel movies. I myself jump into that wormhole on occasion and must soon climb out of those conversations for fear I will become too determined to sit down and watch all those movies again. This most recent film plays on our very ideas of time and may even crumble that chronology knowledge once and for all.
X-Men: Days of Future Past is a perfect example of a plot conceit that succeeds and simultaneously gives fans exactly what they want. Bridging the older actors with their younger ones transfers the figurative X-Men torch while also continuing the evolution of characters already established in their older years. The film picks up in one block where X-Men: First Class left off, but it exists more as the subplot or B plot to the overarching threat in the mutant apocalyptic story-line. The time traveling, or sense memory traveling really, that happens not only allows both generations of actors to play the same role, but the origin story conceit to be inter-textual and malleable. Patrick Stewart’s Professor X not only changes the course of his own personal evolution through Jackman’s Wolverine, but also reveals the knowledge that potentially exists in other X-Men films.
This interplay of current past and changeable future is well constructed. Simon Kinberg, the writer of X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), the weakest of the three older films, has a much better grasp of construction, pacing, and the time traveling element here. Bryan Singer, who stepped out of directing X-Men: The Last Stand to direct Superman Returns, redeems himself here. McAvoy’s Professor and Fassbender’s Magneto are given just enough breathing room to create their own versions of these characters and add more dimensions to their layered friendship. Jennifer Lawrence is given even more screen time in this film as her Mystique comes between the two men. Lawrence’s physicality is excellent here, looking more like the Mystique she will become. However, the emotional elements felt too black and white and still lacked a bit of fire.
One of the more memorable sequences belongs to Evan Peters and his performance as Quicksilver. Although due to legalities the character will be played by Aaron Taylor Johnson in the next Avengers film, Peters is all a twinkle as the fast moving mutant with ton of flare. Ultimately, a lot of the movie rests on Jackman’s shoulders as he bridges the two timelines. His Logan is consistently entertaining, angry and complex and still has not fallen into gimmicks. Here’s hoping this standard continues and big budget comic book films push their own genre and world into new territory.