I don’t think it would be too far out of line to say the 20th Century Fox’s X-Men: Days of Future Past might be the most ambitious comic book movie ever made, even more than The Avengers. The fact that this movie is an adaption of an actual comic book storyline just makes it that much cooler. It shows that movies can be made directly from comics, without worrying about confusing an audience with the minutiae of comic history. This story has multiple versions of the same characters, played by different actors, time travel (with multiple time lines) and giant robot hunting machines that evolve into the ultimate killing machines. The story brings together the casts from all the previous X-Men movies to save the world.
Without giving too many spoilers, know that are some major differences between the film and the 1981 classic story by Chris Claremont, John Byrne and Terry Austin (Uncanny X-Men #141 and 142). In 2023, The film does a great job of taking all the X-Men related movies that have come before, with their contradicting continuities, and bring them together in a way that (mostly) works. Director Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects, X-Men) left the X-Men franchise to make the underwhelming Superman Returns. He returns and shows off his ability to tell the complex time travel story. The script was adapted from the comics by Simon Kinberg (who wrote the X-Men 3) and Jane Goldman (who wrote X-Men: First Class) and Matthew Vaughn (director of X-Men: First Class). Beginning in the apocalyptic near future (as these things always tend to) small handfuls of mutants are hidden around the world, using their amazing abilities just to stay alive. Both mutants and any human who dares to help them have been hunted to near extinction by the Sentinels. The Sentinels are giant robots with adaptive abilities. They mimic the abilities of the very mutants they hunt, making them more than a match for any X-Men.
The X-Men avoid being caught by using Kitty Pryde’s (Ellen Page) phasing ability. She’s learned to phase through time, like she does through matter. She can send someone, mentally, back in time a few days to their own body. When the Sentinels attack, she’s sends Bishop (Omar Sy) back a few days to warn themselves, and they escape before they are ever attacked. Reunited with Magento (Sir Ian McKellen), Professor X (Sir Patrick Stewart), and Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), a plan is made to go farther back in time, to before the war, before the Sentinels. In 1973, the shape-shifting Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) is captured while killing wealthy defense contractor Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage). Trask’s company has already developed the Sentinels, along with mutant tracking sensors. They use Mystique’s DNA to give their Sentinels unstoppable power, creating the apocalyptic future. Because the process is so damaging, only Wolverine could survive the 50 year time trip. Waking up in the past, he has to reunited the younger Professor X (James McAvoy), and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) to stop Mystique. Sadly the two of them are not in any position to help, as both are imprisoned. Charles (Professor X) is trapped by his own guilt, powerless, and Erik (Magneto) is actually in prison. A prison directly underneath the Pentagon. Wolverine has to find a way to get the two of them back together and stop Mystique. Along the way, he is reunited with old friends (who he saw die in the future), like Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hault), the blue hued Beast, and Peter Maximoff,(Evan Peters) the speedster mutant known in the comics as Quicksilver.
The film’s first act can be confusing to those not used to the turnabout time travel escapes common to shows like Doctor Who, but when the action moves to the 1970’s the audience will become fully engaged in the period action. Peters’ Quicksilver steals the movie, (almost literally) and Lawrence’s Mystique finds new depth never seen when Rebecca Romain wore the blue body paint, all the while looking very groovy in various 70’s guises. X-Men: Days of Future Past is not a perfect movie, but he great ensemble acting and action will keep the more casual fans from thinking too much about the time travel headaches. There is much more to enjoy here than to nit-pick over for comic book fans, some may feel their favorite character might have not been given enough screentime, but there’s only so much time to tell the story.
The finale, that includes some uncanny cameos and ties a nice bow on the entire X-Men franchise, in what will most likely be the last go for many of the original X-Men film cast.
X-Men: Days of Future Past – 8.5 of 10