DVD Review: ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’

Bryan Singer’s freshest contribution to the X-Men canon proves to be his most ambitious and complicated to date. X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) brings together the stellar ensembles of both X-Men (2000) and X-Men: First Class (2011) for a film that completely rewrites the direction of the franchise. In their latest outing, we discover that the X-Men are engaged in a battle for their lives against sentient machines known as ‘Sentinels’, the creation of Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage). Believing that mutants will evolve to erase their less-developed counterparts, Trask intends to protect the rest of humanity by beating the mutants at their own game.

Cut to nearly fifty years later and we discover the mutants have found a way to stay one step ahead of the Sentinels. With the help of Kitty Pryde’s (Ellen Page) powers of teleportation, we’re sent back with Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) to the 1970’s. He’s here to enlist the help of the younger Charles Xavier/Professor X (James McAvoy) and Eric Lehnsherr/Magneto (Michael Fassbender) to help prevent the creation of the Sentinels and thus, ensure a re-written fate for the future of all mutants. The meshing of two ensemble casts works seamlessly here. Whilst Wolverine provides the only tangible link between past and future, we’re never distracted by the presence of two major casts co-existing within the same film – something that can often be the case when patently recognisable characters are involved.

X-Men: Days of Future Past provides the requisite mix of tongue-in-cheek dialogue and intense action sequences that we’ve come to expect from the superhero genre, yet here it feels fully realised and fleshed out. Taking a page from the Star Trek (2009) method of rebooting a series, the time-travel plot device never feels too hokey, although it does push the boundaries of what devoted fans might be willing to accept. Like its predecessor, X-Men: Days of Future Past allows for some wonderfully ‘70s kitsch aesthetics and renders the opportunity for a second origins story – of sorts – for the characters we were first introduced to in X-Men: First Class. Indeed, Singer excels in character development, bringing out the personal tensions which so firmly root their outward actions. After nearly fifteen years of X-Men films, we as an audience know the quirks and qualms of these characters and this pre-existing relationship is beneficial to the overall enjoyment of the film.

The real standout here is newcomer Quicksilver (Evan Peters) and his feature sequence during the first act. Singer presents a prison break unlike any other, constructed from the point of view of Quicksilver as he speedily dispatches prison guards, all set to the effectively diegetic music of Jim Croce’s Time in a Bottle. Visually arresting and wholly amusing, Quicksilver gives us the energy we need to get through the subsequent acts. This latest entry into the X-Men universe is one of the more enjoyable and lively of the bunch and, with rarely an ineffective moment or excess sequence, proves to be the most enticing to date.

Allie Gemmill | @alliegem