So far this is shaping up to be a great year for comic book films. First we had easily one of the best of the genre to come out that was even better then “The Avengers” , “Captain America: The Winter Solider”. Then just a couple of weeks ago we had “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” that was mixed among critics however generally positive among audiences. I found, despite the flaws, to be a superior film to the first one in the series. Now we reached the third superhero film of the year with Fox’s “X-Men: Days of Future Past”. The series has been returning to form after the abominations that were “X-Men: The Last Stand” and “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”. “X-Men: First Class” and last year’s “Wolverine” were big improvements in the series and I had some solid expectations that this one would go keep in that direction. I was not prepared for the level of quality that this film actually was. I didn’t think any other superhero film would be able to match “Winter Solider” this year however this one did. This is a thoughtful, well written, fun, dramatic, emotional and action packed movie that is easily the best in the series.
“X-Men: Days of Future Past” shows a bleak dystopian future. A world where mutants are hunted and everything is run by the Sentinels. Which are incredibly complex machines that adapt to the mutants they are fighting and have one goal and that is to kill every mutant. With only a handful of former X-Men left alive, they decide to take a chance and send Wolverine back in time in order to stop the event that would trigger this future to happen. Now back in the 1970s, Wolverine must rally the X-Men together, bring both allies and enemies together to stop this threat from ever happening.
Where the movie succeeds most is in its writing. The movie has to balance and juggle a lot of different characters. A lot of previous “X-Men” movies haven’t always utilized all their characters, in this every character gets their moment. Maybe they don’t share the same amount of screen time however each one is utilized to serve the movie’s best interests. This in many ways is a bigger achievement in character balance then even Marvel’s “The Avengers”.
Not only does the movie balance the characters really well, there is a good flow and always balances two different storylines. One in the past in the 1970s that involves a lot of the younger cast from “X-Men: First Class” and the future storyline that involves many of the original “X-Men” cast. Which is established that is going on the same time. Time travel can easily get convoluted and confusing, but this movie makes it easy and simple and bounces around between the two in an easy to understand fashion.
There are so many great moments between the characters. Xavier and Erik’s young and old relationship have great development, and some emotional scenes. As the cast members deliver some great on screen performances. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender play the young versions of the characters and are outstanding and match their older counterparts beat for beat. Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen once again reprise their roles from the original trilogy and give their best performance in their roles to date. Both sets of actors have great on screen chemistry with one another. But the performances do not end there.
Hugh Jackman returns once again in the role of Wolverine. But he is a bit different this time. Although there are certainly times where he does have the classic, Wolverine anger , the character is a bit more reserved now. This in a change in the role of the character because he has to step up and become the leader and rally everyone together. Jackman still continues to impress us all with his fantastic performances as the character, lord help anyone who has to follow him up once he is done with the role.
Of course there are so many other cast members in this large character list and every one of them brings their A game. Jennifer Lawrence improves greatly upon her “First Class” performance. Nicholas Hoult does fine work as Beast. Ellen Page also delivers some really good work as Kitty Pride. Peter Dinklage is outstanding as he always is even if he is a little underused. But the biggest stand out newcomer is without a doubt, Evan Peters as quicksilver. As with many people I had my doubts about their take on the character but it’s all whiped away, with a scene that is nearly as good as Nightcrawler’s opening in “X2”. I can’t wait to see more quicksilver in future installments.
Many fans were understandably upset when director Bryan Singer left the franchise after directing “X-Men” and “X2”, to direct the somewhat disappointing to many “Superman Returns”. While Brett Ratner came in to direct “X-Men: The Last Stand” and was a severe drop in quality. Singer has returns with this film and could potentially be his best film. His action sequences are jaw dropping exciting, his smaller character moments hit hard and keeps a nice flow and pace to the overall film. Singer certainly returns to form after the horrible “Jack the Giant Slayer”.
As far as superheroes film this easily ranks among the best. Outstanding character moments, fantastic action, incredibly well written and well directed. This is the best “X-Men” to date, and could be director Bryan Singer’s best effort yet. I still haven’t decided if I like this or “Winter Solider” better but one thing is for sure Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” has a lot to live up too.