Why X-Men: Days of Future Past is Kinda Awesome

Not as mind blowing as I'd hoped, but still pretty damn good.”

2014 is a year that has come with no less than four major offerings of Marvel superhero films; the first was Captain America The Winter Soldier, which has undeniably raised the bar for solo Marvel films and probably superhero films in general. It recently surpassed $700 million, and it honestly deserves to break the enviable $1 billion, but it's early release date meant that that was never likely to happen. Next came Sony's offering, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which was fantastic right up until the dreadful ending. The final offering, which hits cinemas on July 31st, will be Marvel Studios ambitious Guardians of the Galaxy – the recently released second trailer looks awesome.

But we're not here to talk about the other three offerings, are we? No, right now, we're taking a look at FOX's offering, X-Men: Days of Future Past, which reconciles the older films with the new prequel universe set up by X-Men: First Class. There's been a lot of big buzz about the film, what with it's epic scope and diverse cast, but is the buzz justified?

Sort of.

The future has a mixture of old and new faces

DOFP opens in a post apocalyptic world, where the familiar faces of Patrick Stewart's Professor Xavier, Ian McKellan's Magneto, Wolverine, Kitty Pride, Iceman and Colossus are joined by newcomers Blink, Bishop, Sunspot and Warpath in an apocalyptic world that has been all but wiped out by Sentinels; their chances of winning are practically zero, and they spend their days running and hiding from total extermination.

In the critically acclaimed comic book run of the same name, it was Kitty Pride who's mind was sent back through time to inhabit her younger body and avert disaster, but in this adaptation it's Wolverine going – which is certainly no point of contention, especially given that he's basically the face of the film franchise, but my one minor gripe is that they glossed over the fact that Kitty's powers suddenly enabled her to send peoples minds through time. Still, if you know comics (or hell, even if you don't), I suppose it's not hard to suspend disbelief and make the leap.

These three are on top form

The plan, then, is for Wolverine to unite the younger Xavier (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) to stop Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from assassinating the creator of the Sentinels, Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) – an act that would cause the American Government to finally sanction the production of Sentinels, eventually leading to the dystopian future he has come from. Sounds fairly easy, right?

Except, at that point in time, Xavier is a broken man, Magneto is in arguably the most heavily fortified prison in the world, and to top it off, the two men hate each other. Oh, and Mystique is really -really- set on killing Trask, which is understandable given he killed and experimented on several of her friends. Double oh, he also has limited time in the past with which to succeed, as in the future the Sentinels will inevitably find the mutants, and when they do the X-Men won't be able to survive. So yeah, pretty big stakes.

There isn't just mutant cameos to look out for – a young William Stryker gets a decent role, too

What action there is in the film is great; it's polished and slick, and we get to see some cool power usage. The larger scale action obviously happens in the “future”, and there are undoubtedly some sweet sequences full of CGI glory – here's the first real “but” of the article – but I couldn't help feeling like they missed out on an opportunity to go bigger, to really show off some next level mutant fighting. Instead, it's like we're given little teasers and token sequences that are excellent, but leave you wanting more.

The action in the “past” is more toned down, but again there's some good stuff – the sequence you get a glimpse of in the trailers where Fassbender's Magneto lifts up an entire football stadium is particularly impressive, and Lawrence's Mystique gets to flex her muscles and show off more of the deadly athletic skills we got glimpses of in the original X-Men trilogy. That all being said, they went for a more character driven, dramatised plot for the past, and overall this works really well...and here's that dreaded but again...but because they missed out on giving us a truly epic royal rumble in the future, the lack of one in the past was that much starker.

Remember how we were all mocking his costume? You won't be after seeing him in action.

Acting wise, I have literally no complaints. Every single person, including the new folk, were spot on for what they needed, and the leads were pitch perfect. McAvoy's Xavier was a truly broken, miserable, almost wretched man and Fassbender's Magneto was the xenophobic, ballsy villain with a hidden heart of gold that we all love. In First Class, they were both praised for their chemistry and relationship on screen, and in this, they've taken it to the next level with a generous helping of raw emotion. Jackman IS Wolverine, and this is just yet another example of why, and Lawrence got to stretch her legs and bring a more aggressive and dangerous side to Mystique, whilst also keeping that innocence from her origin. Dinklage was great as Trask as well, though his character didn't have that much to work with.

It's getting to that familiar point where I realise I'm somewhat rambling, so I've got three more things to say in quick succession: first, Quicksilver was fantastic. Easily the best addition to the universe, I look forward to seeing him get a lot more screen time in X-Men: Apocalypse, as I felt he was a bit underused here. Second, whilst we knew there would be a lot of characters missing because of casting news, their absence was certainly felt – most notably the absence of characters from First Class, with only Xavier, Magneto, Mystique and Beast actively participating in the plot, whilst Havok gets a cameo and the rest get the shaft. I get that it's a big ensemble film, and you don't want to oversaturate it, but they could've at least given them all cameos if not just stick them in a peripheral support role, surely? Finally, the ending was enjoyable and well done and I'm certainly fine with it, but it does leave me wondering about the direction the future of the franchise is going to take and whether they'll capitalise on a very specific potential they've created.

Final Score: 7/10

This has been Blacksmith, writing for The Awesome Update.

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