X-Men: Days of Future Past – Has Bryan Singer Learned Anything?

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One of the main problems surrounding the X-Men film series has always been the lack of equilibrium and development in many of the mutants, instead choosing to over-market the readily known ones. Especially Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine. As much acclaim as Jackman, Patrick Stewart, and Ian McKellen actually deserve, the other (well-talented) cast members had been pushed to the background. Full well knowing the mistakes of the past, Bryan Singer returns to the franchise he helped birth. Has he learned anything?

In the future, Mutants are on the brink of extinction in a war against the mutant-hunting sentinels. With little recourse, Kitty Pryde sends the consciousness of Wolverine to inhabit his 1973 body in order to repair the future. It is a race not only against time, but also against old friends such as Magneto and Mystique.

This was clearly an ambitious undertaking, as it merges together two different casts, and two distinct tones that have been previously established. I greatly admired how well everything blended together. It sets out to clean up the mess that Brett Ratner made in 2006, while also continuing the pristine saga Matthew Vaughn rebooted.

There are elements from both series that mix well, and others that don’t, but for the most part, the end result is a fully cohesive, action-packed thrill ride that treats the majority of the ensemble with the attention they need. It answers some lingering questions that one may have in a manner better than characters asking “Why?” thus making a smooth expositional transition. It looks and feels fantastic, and it never relinquishes focus.

To debit, we also find some third act problems that don’t work out cleanly. There’s a great deal of convoluted-ness in the antagonistic intentions. You never fully understand what it is exactly that the villains are trying to do, and that results in having no idea which one is the major threat.

In addition, we find some more of the trademark overshadowing, and extraneous characters with very interesting stories, powers, and concepts are yet AGAIN set aside to make room for the centrals. In fairness, it doesn’t feel like “The Wolverine Show” again, but very significant actors really have no purpose here other than to act as fan-service.

Acting wise, we find the regular troupe of actors such as Jackman, Stewart, McKellen who don’t really contribute anything better than their previous work, and thus their performances don’t really warrant discussion.

James McAvoy gets to stretch some different muscle than his previous portrayal. Rather than the smooth Brit who holds all the answers, we find a wounded ne’er do well who is disillusioned with the world and is suffering from his past and struggling to accept the future. The inner rage that McAvoy conveys makes him that much more interesting.

Similarly, we find Michael Fassbender working with his new meat, making strides as a man who is conflicted in acceptance as well. Ditto to Jennifer Lawrence who is also showcasing naturally how she would adapt to her new circumstances.

Finally, we come to what I like to call “Andrew’s Standout” of the movie. This time, it is the wonderful Peter Dinklage. We are lead to believe that his character is an outright mutant hating villain, but the complexities and charm in which he accomplishes his tasks and circumvents revealing his true agendas show why his Tyrion Lannister is all the rage on Game of Thrones.

X-Men: Days of Future Past is a great movie with intriguing themes and ideas, but it simply doesn’t live up to the hype and maintains the issues of previous films. Still check it out.

Andrew’s Grade: B

Author: Andrew Woltman