Cinematic Thoughts for Cinematic Minds
2014/ USA, UK
Director: Bryan Singer
Starring: Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Halle Berry,Ellen Page, Peter Dinklage, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart
Above, I have listed the actors who play the major characters in this film. Take a good look. You will note that it is an impressive list, more than impressive in fact. It’s a small collection of some of the most phenomenal acting talent of modern times. And they’re starring in a movie set in one of the most popular and endearing comic and cinematic franchises of the past half-century. So we’re in for a film of mind-blowing magnificence, right? Not right. Allow me to explain…
Before I begin I’d like to remind the casual X-Man/Woman that this is a time-travel story and as such your mind will be interfered with violently if you think too hard about it and its ramifications on previous X-Men films. On the other hand, comic readers may be irked that some significant changes have been made in the movie from the comic book canon (i.e. Wolverine goes back in time and not Kitty Pryde). I’ll be looking at this one objectively though; otherwise we’ll be here till we reach the dystopian future depicted in the film at hand.
Sentinels rain down on cities thicker and faster than plot holes, walking machines specifically built to exterminate mutant-kind. Professor Xavier (Stewart) and Magneto (McKellen) lead a paltry band of survivors including Wolverine (Jackman), Storm (Berry) and Kitty Pryde (Page) – a mutant who has been using her power to transfer the consciousnesses of others back and forth through time to survive and anticipate attacks. A plan is hatched to send Wolverine back to 1973 and prevent the assassination of the creator of the Sentinels, Bolivar Trask (Dinklage), which, ironically, is what causes the Sentinels to gain nigh-invulnerability.
The premise is an interesting one and we get an intriguing look at a very broken post-First Class Xavier (McAvoy) having to reconcile with an imprisoned Magneto (Fassbender) who have every bit as much chemistry between them as their future on-screen pairing do.
Superficially, this is a satisfying addition to the franchise; action-packed and brimming with superhero CGI but having the nature of a story about time-travel you can’t shake the niggling thought of how pointless everything preceding it was… or succeeding it… whatever. And then there’s Professor X being alive after Last Stand which is never really explained beyond “you’re not the only one with gifts.” I digress.
Emmy-winner Peter Dinklage who many viewers will be used to seeing in medieval garb in HBO’s hit TV show Game of Thrones makes a fine appearance as misguided industrialist Trask, complete with handlebar moustache and incredibly-seventies barnet.
But the performance that runs away (literally) with the show is Evan Peters’ Quicksilver, a mutant that can move at superhuman speeds. Everything that happens before and after Quicksilver’s appearance feels very subdued and bland in comparison and his premature departure from the central plot leaves you pining for his return which, alas, doesn’t happen. One particular scene in which a gunfight is reduced to a slo-mo music video for a Jim Croce tune just surpasses anything else in the film by a country mile.
So, in summary, what we have is a weaker sequel(?) to First Class, which may well be the best in the X-Men series thus far. Days of Future Past has its moments but never really seems to catch fire and at its climax seems to render one or two previous instalments utterly pointless. As if the canon didn’t have enough flaws and confusions in it already. I hadn’t particularly missed Bryan Singer’s direction.
One thing to be said is that the glimpse of Peters’ Quicksilver has left me and many others surprisingly excited to see what he brings to 2016’s X-Men: Apocalypse in which it has been revealed he is to play a part; a much larger one, hopefully. Incidentally, if you do see Future Past I hope by now you know to wait until the end of the credits for that tantalising teaser of what’s to come…