REVIEW: X-Men – Days Of Future Past

4.5

936full-x--men -days-of-future-past-posterFollowing The Avengers in 2012, Marvel Comics are currently going through a phase of expanding their universe within their cinematic adaptations by introducing further characters than the typical hero and villain. The X-Men series alone have their variety of characters which has usually featured an ensemble cast and began back in 2000 with its first instalment. In 2011, we saw the impressive prequel X-Men: First Class that filled in a few untold gaps of the supposed original trilogy, particularly the broken friendship between Eric and Charles. Now, in 2014 we have Days Of Future Past, possibly the most unique X-Men adaptation so far due to its narrative complexity. Serving as a sequel to both The Last Stand and First Class, Days Of Future Past bridges between two eras of the series with the result being arguably the greatest in the franchise.

The most extraordinary aspect of X-Men: Days Of Future Past was its narrative structure. When you think of science-fiction and time travel, you immediately think of Back To The Future, but Days Of Future Past implements a story that totally alters how we have perceived the first ‘original’ trilogy. In fact, only the X-Men series in comic book adaptations could have pulled off a film set in different narrative times because it is a wide universe on its own, and its variety of heroes and villains each coincide with different background stories that make them connect. This is particularly due to Logan being the same age or perhaps older than Xavier and Lehnsherr. Furthermore, how the different time settings were structured within its mise-en-scéne was impressive. Like in X-Men: First Class, the earlier decades of the 20th century depicted in Days Of Future Past felt like it was set during those stages. It didn’t feel as colourful or tonally rich compared to the previous three films which has excelled impressively from a historical viewpoint. However, the only issue with the narrative style was the futuristic and dystopian future with older Xavier and Lehnsherr with the other X-Men. It appeared too unrealistic for Earth and felt somewhat distorted within the narrative by raising question as to which point was this set inbetween predecessors. Was it inbetween X2 and X-Men: The Last Stand or, considering it’s a sequel, after the latter? Despite this, the narrative style and visual effects were impressive and particularly the editing between past and present time was convincing and done creatively.

The X-Men series have always been successful on part of their ensemble cast members. Hugh Jackman who has been part of the series since day one reprises his role as Logan/Wolverine for a fifth time and shines once again. You would think that after five performances that there would be a slight break in character but Jackman constantly succeeds. He may now be fourteen years older compared to his first performance and both his masculinity, both physically and in personality, as an actor contributes a lot to his role of Logan and continues to deliver some of the best performances in comic book adaptations. Jackman as Logan has been the centre of the X-Men series and though he had a humourous cameo in First Class, he now has more screen time in Days Of Future Past with James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender. Although we see younger versions of both Xavier and Lehnsherr and that Logan has appeared alongside Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, McAvoy and Fassbender manage to hold the same chemistry. McAvoy’s performance in particular was superior as it focused a lot on his powers, primarily reflecting them as a danger of what’s inside his own mind as opposed to a gift of reading other people’s minds as previously depicted. Fassbender is equally as masculine in the role of Eric Lehnsherr/Magneto as Sir Ian McKellen who also makes a solid re-appearance.

Although Logan is the centre of the past and present tense in Days Of Future Past, there is no main protagonist in this film. It carries a lot of background detail and important plot points of supporting characters who progressively become leading, particularly Mystique/Raven. Now practically a young superstar in Hollywood, Jennifer Lawrence delivers another superb performance as Mystique who goes beyond Rebecca Romijn’s previous portrayal of the character. She’s good in action sequences, genuinely heartfelt and sexy which is Mystique/Raven in a nutshell. In fact, Days Of Future Past could secretly be Lawrence’s film when every film that she’s in, even supporting roles, seems to be these days. Furthermore, we see Nicholas Hoult return as Beast/Hank McCoy who is portrayed identically to the Hulk in The Avengers. It examined a lot about McCoy and how the Beast affects him both physically and emotionally. It is difficult to compare Hoult’s role to Kelsey Grammar’s in The Last Stand as the latter came into the series quite late and wasn’t developed enough like Hoult’s, but together, they’ve been convincing as the Beast and perhaps challenge the current portrayal of fellow Marvel man-monster – the Hulk. Finally, we see solid cameo returning performances from Ellen Page, Halle Berry, Anna Paquin and Shawn Ashmore.

With comic book adaptations these days either becoming bloated with too many characters and subplots or corny, X-Men: Days Of Future Past luckily avoids both and becomes a film that has totally altered how we perceive the series. It bridges between the series’ two eras and excellently makes reference to past instalments with characters whilst simultaneously creating something different with the complex plot. With the exception of a strange dystopian future, the plot becomes mind-blowing, the action is intense, visual effects are stunning and the performances are sublime. Therefore, X-Men: Days Of Future Past has now become the greatest film in the X-Men franchise and among the best Marvel adaptations of all time.

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~ by SJMJ91 on 02/07/2014.

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