"Captain America: The Winter Soldier" started the 2014 Marvel movie season with a refreshing kick in the pants. Sadly, the soaring buzz from the good ole Cap’n was shot down with the tangled and surprisingly mediocre "Amazing Spider-Man 2."
Rest easy everyone, "X-Men: Days of Future Past" is here to clean the cobwebs out of your brain.
(Note: from here on, the title will be shortened to "DoFP," because that’s cooler.)
If you’re new to the series, you’ll need to catch up to get the full magnitude and emotion brought to the table in "DoFP." Schedule a binge-watching session of the first four X-Men movies and, yes, even the two "Wolverine" flicks. You’ll thank yourself later.
- TRAILER: X-Men: Days of Future Past
There’s almost no expository dialogue or origin story here. Aside from a few nanosecond flashbacks, this is probably the most efficient use of screen time in any of the X-Men films.
And that’s awesome.
"DoFP" immediately drops the audience in to the lives of “future” X-Men, living on a destroyed post-apocalyptic Earth, fighting merely to survive. There’s a handful of brand new mutant X-peeps, but fans of the first three movies will soon reunite with many of their favorite original characters.
Professor X, Magneto, Wolverine, Storm and others are hiding in the mountains of China. Elsewhere, sky-patrolling robots known as Sentinels have enslaved the planet’s humans and mutants alike. Thankfully, our X-friends are staying one step ahead of the bots with a clever time-warping trick via Kitty Pride (Ellen Page).
It’s questionable if our heroes can stay safe for long.
The group concocts a scheme to fix their nightmarish world and track down the past “fork in the road” that sent Earth into the hell it has become. Without giving away the process, "DoFP" finds a fantastic way to use the original X-Men cast with their younger versions from "X-Men: First Class" in order to solve the world’s crisis.
This huge combination of characters is made more impressive with the huge number of top-notch actors being very “top-notch.” The acting is wonderful.
Hugh Jackman (Logan / Wolverine), James McAvoy (Charler Xavier / Prof. X), Michael Fassbender (Erik Lehnsherr / Magneto) and Jennifer Lawence (Raven / Mystique) eventually settle into the heart of the plot; all providing convincing emotion and struggle that elevates "DoFP" above almost everything else derived from a comic book.
Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Halle Berry and many others reprise their roles as the original X-Men and provide the bookends and supporting framework of the story. They are the warm hug of familiarity that fans will appreciate.
Adding bad to all the X-Men good, Peter Dinklage is super creepy (looking?) as Dr. Bolivar Trask, creator of the Earth-ending Sentinel robots. His mysterious quest for deception, profit and power is almost as big as his giant 1970s mustache.
Worth pointing out, Evan Peters’ Quicksilver, the only character that will cross over into the next "Avengers" movie (from rival studio Disney), provides one of the most stunning sequences in the film. It’s so good, it’s justification to pay extra to see it in 3D.
Despite the massive cast, exquisite special effects and punchy action, "DoFP" feels intimate and packed with emotion. The characters never stray too far from each other and the dialogue is clever and personal to each. In a weird way, this X-Men feels like a stage play with awesome, but troubled, mutant superheroes … and explosions.
The X-Men are a complicated group battling inward struggles, robot struggles, bad-guy struggles and struggles amongst their own group. On paper, it’s a lot to grasp. Thankfully, director Bryan Singer keeps everything tight, efficient and thrilling. The acting makes "DoFP" something special.
Audiences that have remained through the years of X-Men film highs and lows, will find "X-Men: Days of Future Past" exceptionally satisfying and thought-provoking. There’s not only resolution and meaning, there’s the promise that the future of the franchise is going to be incredible (there’s a hint of what’s to come following the movie’s credits). It also sets the bar at a stratospheric height for every comic-book movie to follow. That’s awesome.