Before the year 2000 superhero films didn’t get a lot of respect, in the 70s we had Richard Donner’s Superman: The Movie and in the 80s Tim Burton’s Batman, but aside from those rare success stories the superhero genre never really took off. Then came Bryan Singer, his X-Men movie not only received mostly positive reviews it also managed to make $296,339,527 in ticket sales worldwide. This was a game changer.
Bryan Singer left the franchise after doing just one more entry but now he’s back at the helm with X-Men: Days of Future Past and I must say, “Welcome back, sir!” This entry almost makes one forgive him for abandoning us into the hands of Brett Ratner and his lamentable X-Men: The Last Stand.
Based on a comic storyline from X-Men gods Chris Claremont and John Bryne and containing one of my favorite tropes, time travel, Bryan Singer brings us a slam-bam, knock-down, drag-out, balls-to-the-walls adventure film with fantastic action set pieces, brilliant dramatic performances, and a story that keeps you at the edge of your seat.
The movie begins in the near future where nigh-unstoppable robots called Sentinels have made Hell on Earth as they wage war on mutant kind and any human who side with them. With mutants on the brink of extinction a mad plan is put into effect, Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) will have his mind sent back to his 1973 body so he can prevent Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from committing an act that will eventually lead to this post-apocalyptic future.
This plan hinges on Wolverine being able to get help from a young Professor Xavier (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) who at this particular point in time really, really don’t get along. Both McAvoy and Fassbender give such weight and gravitas to their roles as bitter enemies with a shared pain and love, taking what was introduced in X-Men: First Class then bringing it to a whole new level.
Major shout out to Evan Peters (American Horror Story) who plays the mutant speedster Quicksilver. He is just so much fun to watch in his all too brief moments on screen that I really hope he gets upgraded to the A-Team for X-Men: Apocalypse.
The villain of the piece is Bolivar Trask played by the great Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones) who is kind of like a short Hitler only instead of the Jews he is using the mutant threat to bind humanity together.
Of course much of the stories heavy lifting is done by the superbly charismatic Hugh Jackman who has played the part of Logan/Wolverine seven times now and he just keeps getting better. Seeing poor future Logan getting plopped back in the seventies is one of the films many joyous moments.
Time Travel Note: Many films drop the ball when they have characters moving back and forth through time. Falling into the paradox trap is something so many sci-fi time travel movies do, but Bryan Singer uses string theory for the basis of his story and it really works.
So once again, thank you Mister Singer for bringing the franchise firmly back on track, tying the original cast members nicely with the excellent group from X-Men: First Class gives us hope for the future.