Reel Freak

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Review – X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

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X-Men: Days of Future Past is quite possibly the best installment in the film franchise to date.  Bryan Singer returns to the director’s chair as if he never left; and with incredible storytelling and a blend of two all-star casts, the complex and forgiving concept of time-travel has the ability to tie everything X-Men has given us over the past 14 years together with ease.

In a dystopian near-future, the X-Men are being hunted by mutant-killing robot Sentinels to the brink of extinction.  Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellen) put their differences aside to work together when hope seems to be fading quickly.  Bringing together the remaining X-Men, the plan is to send Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back in time to the 1970’s in order to prevent scientist Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) from ever creating the Sentinels.

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In order to do so, Wolverine must find the younger versions of Xavier and Magneto (James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender) in the past for assistance.  Along the way, Wolverine encounters several mutants, including Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), Beast (Nicholas Hoult) and Quicksilver (Evan Peters) in a literal race both against and through time, before the future X-Men are killed off completely.

Bryan Singer makes his return to X-Men after over a decade, and the result is remarkable.  His work with Days of Future Past is just as fun and near-flawless as how X-Men and X2 turned out, as if the director never left.  However, let us not forget that Singer did in fact leave for a while, and the result was The Last Stand, Origins: Wolverine, First Class, and The Wolverine.  In all honesty, the former two were poorly crafted, while the latter couple seemed to be redeeming saviors of the franchise.  Singer’s return couldn’t have come at a better time, and with it comes quite possibly the best X-Men flick of them all.

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DoFP is based off of the famous and acclaimed story arc of the same name, and uses the seemingly overused theme of time-travel in a surprisingly refreshing way.  Each mutant’s powers have a unique way of fitting into the story, and not a single character is left without proper use.  Returning favorites like Colossus, Kitty Pryde and Iceman are now joined by newcomers including Bishop, Blink, and Sunspot, and their team-effort fight sequences against the Sentinels are carefully thought-out and very entertaining to watch.  While those characters exist in the future part of the storycharacters from 2011’s First Class- such as Mystique and Beast- are now paired with mutants like Quicksilver and Toad; who add even more to the fun.

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Speaking of Quicksilver; the speedster who everybody thought would be a laughable joke of a character (solely from the ads) ended up being one of the show-stealers of the movie.  His slowed-down sequence breaking into the Pentagon to breakout Magneto was hilarious.  Evan Peters really did the character some justice, as far as a film version of the character could be portrayed.

X-Men-Days-Of-Future-PastAnother newcomer whose abilities wound up being the smart eye-candy of each of her scenes was Fan BinBing, who played Blink; a mutant who specializes in creating portals to travel through.  Her action sequences with the other mutants against the Sentinels felt brilliant, using her portals to turn the Sentinels’ weapons against each other.  These sequences, especially in 3D, were awesome to watch.

Something I found notable to point out is that the action choreography and thoughtful use of lesser-known mutants was sort of the way we all hoped the final battle of X-Men: The Last Stand should have played out; with a bunch of cool mutants fighting each other, rather than a bunch of disposable characters fighting the five main X-Men (at the time).  The action and fight scenes were top-notch and stellar, and will only leave you wanting to see more.  It leaves a lot of hope that the next film (Apocalypse in 2016) will feature even more mutants, such as Gambit, Cyclops or Nightcrawler.

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The character chemistry was also something that seems to stand out throughout the entire film.  Scenes like McAvoy’s Xavier confronting Stewart’s Xavier, Jackman interacting with McAvoy and Stewart, and the recognizable banter between Fassbender and McAvoy we saw in First Class are what drive the film as easily as it goes.  Every major character in the film seems to be at the top of their game, especially the returning members.

SPOILERS: Without giving the entire scene away, the post-credits sequence includes a tease of the next film, X-Men: Apocalypse, set for a May 2016 release.

Overall, Days of Future Past is the X-Men movie we’ve deserved and been waiting for.  Bryan Singer almost effortlessly draws fans back into the saga he started back in 2000, and even patches up some continuity questions.  As Professor X has always believed, there is always hope; and that is exactly what is shown here.  Fans have nothing but good to look forward to in the future of the X-Men, and Days of Future Past proves to be one of the best blockbusters of the year so far.

Rating: 9.0/10

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– Josh Sazin, 5/24/14

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