An X-citing drama to behold

by Gazette Reporter
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The latest X-Men film goes back in time to add some extra depth to the long-running superhero franchise, and it becomes obvious that you’re in for something a little different from the get go.
The opening sequence of Days of Future Past explodes onto the screen mid-roar, only pausing for breath after we’ve watched several of Marvel’s finest eradicated by the Sentinels – gigantic and seemingly unstoppable seek-and-destroy robots that are programmed to wipe out mutants.
Here, Bryan Singer returns to the X-Men director’s chair and, using a story based on a 1981 X-Men comic, attempts to weave the various extant film strands together.
It’s not an easy task – while the story definitely stands alone in its own right, some familiarity with the franchise’s earlier flicks will add to the pleasure.
The plot follows Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) as he is sent back in time to the 1970s, to prevent the Sentinels being unleashed into the world by the military scientist, Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) – sounds like a simple hit-job, right?
The trouble is that the mission isn’t to take out Trask, but to save him from being killed by Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) – diplomacy isn’t one of Wolverine’s stronger points …
In between wading through sheepskin and Cadillacs, Wolverine has to get some of his old (or new, depending on your perspective) friends back together, including a young Professor X (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender), both of whom aren’t really on speaking terms in this timeline.
All the while, in the present day, the older Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellan) are on the brink, battling the Sentinels with the remaining X-Men.
Throw Ellen Page and Halle Berry into the mix and you have an ensemble cast that dreams are made of, and to Singer’s credit, he maintains an impressively even keel between character development and engaging action.
As our entry point into the 1970s timeline – where most of the story takes place – Wolverine’s mission to alter history by hook or by crook allows for plenty of space for drama amid the inevitable fighting.
Most of the drama is played out wonderfully through McAvoy and Fassbender’s portrayals of the younger characters.
After all, the Charles Xavier we encounter in 1973 is a very different animal from both the future Professor X, and the cockier, younger Charles we met in X-Men: First Class.
“Now”, he’s dishevelled, reclusive, and has given up any hope that he can make a difference in the world.
Likewise, we are given a glimpse at the young Magneto in development – and it is the battle of emerging ideologies between the various characters that provide most of the lasting effect of the film.
Some superhero films like to maintain a clear delineation between good and evil, and the right and wrong way to do things – this isn’t one of them.
Singer brings a more mature feel along with him, and the film asks a lot of questions about how to handle a morally ambiguous situation – should compliance be physically forced in certain scenarios? Is open communication more valuable, even if it allows unwanted results? Or can less overtly harmful forms of manipulation be acceptable?
While action fans will no doubt welcome the extra level of depth to the story, the waters are still shallow enough for younger viewers to enjoy.
Aiming to please everyone can be a dangerous policy, but Days of Future Past stands strong as a well-written action film that manages to pack in a bit of laughter and cerebral action alongside the usual physical fun.
Fittingly for a film about time travel, you’ll walk away from this one wanting to revisit some of the earlier X-Men films, and looking forward to future instalments.
Verdict: 8/10

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