The X-Men series jumps ahead to the future to go back to the past.
X-Men: Days of Future Past presents a long-awaited film adaptation of a beloved comic book storyline where the near future has turned to a shitstorm of global proportions. Mutants are all but extinct. The world appears to be pretty much destroyed. Storm's stylist has fucked up her hair again. The only answer?
Send someone to the past, of course! Because Logan is
|"For Storm's hair this time, let's go with the Kevin Bacon from Footloose."|
All kidding aside, it's a great setup and the opening is awesome, as is always the case with the X-Men films. Right away we see the dynamic use of the future version of the team's powers, including Blink, whose use of teleportation is the highlight of the fights against the super-sentinels. The framed narrative works very well as the tension in the past and the future build throughout the film as Kitty Pride (Ellen Page in an improved performance) struggles to hold up her end of the bargain and her teammates fight to protect her.
Most of the film takes place in the past, however, and the film is strengthened by its reliance upon Hugh Jackman, who by now completely owns the role of Logan. Wolverine has always provided much-needed comic relief in Bryan Singer's X-Men films, and he does so again here, as evidenced when he wakes up in a compromising situation next to a random girl in 1973. Wolverine's interactions with Xavier and Magneto are excellent throughout as Logan is forced into the unlikely role of peacekeeper between the two. Little touches like Logan's reaction after passing through a metal detector without event (he hadn't gotten his adamantium yet in '73) add levity throughout the movie.
|Logan wonders how they did without cell phones, internet and adamantium claws in the 70s.|
Of course, no X-Men film is complete without some great conversations between Xavier and Magneto, and this one doesn't disappoint, particularly in a heated conversation between the two regarding the events of the last film. Both sides present completely relatable arguments, as always, and then Wolverine eases the tension by looking at Magneto and deadpanning, "So you were always an asshole."
Everything pretty much succeeds in this film, from Magneto spectacularly guiding bullets to the addition of Evan Peters' debut as Quicksilver, who steals the show in yet another memorable Magneto prison break. Jennifer Lawrence really solidifies herself as the best Mystique in the franchise's history here, while the narrative allows Singer to brutally kill off several X-Men in the future without repercussions. The gleeful murder of superheroes, only to bring them back to life just minutes later, is about as comic book-y as it gets, right?
If I reach for a criticism here (besides the fact that they cast young Steve Stifler as William Stryker), it's that the end unnecessarily makes Mystique look mentally weak. They could have had the same ending without Professor X intervening in her thoughts to basically tell her what to do, destroying her agency in the process. All it would have cost us is yet another preachy Professor X speech, which the series has had plenty of. Still, this is a new high water mark for the series and the best X-film yet.