May 22, 2014 by Paul Curtin
While X-Men: Days of Future Past may not technically be another Wolverine film, it might as well be with Hugh Jackman clocking in the most screen time throughout the film and once again owning the role of franchise’s troubled loner/leader, Logan.
Days of Future Past starts off strong by not feeling like a typical X-Men movie that we’ve seen before. Similar to The Matrix or Terminator franchises, the characters are now involved in a near-future war they cannot win against man-made machines. It’s up to Wolverine, with the help of Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) and the rest of the X-Men’s powers, to travel back in time and prevent the events that lead to Dr. Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) creating the Sentinels, machines that hunt down and kill mutants in the future.
Bryan Singer, who directed the first two amazing X-Men films over a decade ago, has come back to keep the series on the right track after 2011’s superb X-Men: First Class. Right from the start of the film, it’s clear that Singer understands what it takes to make a great X-Men film and delivers on the action and drama. The visual effects are spectacular, and while the 3D isn’t jaw-dropping, seeing the film in best quality possible is highly recommended.
Wolverine, Professor X (James McAvoy / Patrick Steward), Magneto (Michael Fassbender / Ian McKellen), and Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) might all be the stars of the film who deliver great performances, but it’s two of the lesser-known superheroes who steal the show with their stunning powers. Bingbing Fan, who plays Blink, has two great scenes involving the use of portals, which can teleport objects, allies, and enemies. Her scenes alone demand multiple viewings just to be able to comprehend – especially for those who are fans of the video game Portal.
While I don’t agree with Fox’s choice of wardrobe for Quicksilver, without question, Singer has produced one of the most amazing visual effects scenes of all time involving the new superhero’s super speed. Quicksilver’s standout scene is reminiscent of The Matrix’s popular lobby shootout or Singer’s own previous work with Nightcrawler in X2. Even with his limited screen time and ridiculous outfit, Evan Peters owns the role of Quicksilver and makes for plenty of great moments playing off the stiffer and more serious adult characters. It’s going to be interesting if Marvel can top the Quicksilver scene in Avengers: Age of Ultron with Peter’s Kick-Ass co-star, Aaron Taylor Johnson.
But with so much going on between the two different timelines and characters fighting in both the future and past, Singer’s balancing act at times comes close to all falling down. There’s so many awesome X-Men in the film that a lot of talent is wasted. Certain characters like Halle Berry’s Storm or Bishop, Iceman, Rogue, and others serve no real purpose but to add to epicness of the fight scenes, and Ellen Page’s similar role was pulled off much better in Inception than it is here where there’s no real build-up.
Other actors who have been rising in the ranks recently such as Laurence, Fassbender, McAvoy, and Dinklage all do great jobs in their roles with the time they’re allotted, but it’s Dinklage who could have used a little more screen time to flex his big acting muscles. Unlike last week’s box office blockbuster, Godzilla, where TV star Bryan Cranston was able to go full Heisenberg and easily steal the film, Dinklage isn’t able to come close to matching his best performances in Game of Thrones… Hopefully they may be saving an even bigger role for him in the next film with an even bigger villain.
The lack of a true villain and predictable ending keep the film from being flawless, but Days of Future Past by itself still easily ranks up there alongside Singer’s other amazing X-Men films and is the best Wolverine film yet. Singer has given X-Men fans what they want with this film, and that’s more X-Men. The massive balancing act of characters that Singer has pulled off here is something that many other directors have not been able to do with star-studded superhero casts and deserves praise.
Days of Future Past could have just been a mediocre middle film in a trilogy that sets up a much bigger finale in 2016’s X-Men: Apocalypse (as the scene after the credits hints), but Singer has made it into one of the most memorable and best X-Men films yet. X-Men: Days of Future Past gets 4 out of 5 stars (Great).