The advent of the outstanding X-Men: First Class revitalized the X-Men franchise in 2011, enabling the evolution of a new series of stories. Based loosely on the 1981 iconic comic of the same name, Days of Future Past depicts another astonishing addition to the ever mutating series.
In a dystopian future, mutants are facing extinction courtesy of Sentinels, robots designed by Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) for the solitary purpose of obliterating mutant kind. In order to prevent such mass genocide of their species, Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) must travel back in time to 1973 and alter history before everything unravels.
Adjacent to a fascinating narrative, the stellar cast is one of the movie’s USP’s. Days of Future Past features Oscar winners like Jennifer Lawrence and Halle Berry, and franchise veterans such as Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart. Furthermore, the eclectic array of thespians is completed by Michael Fassbender and the standout performer, James McAvoy.
Playing a desolate Professor X, McAvoy delivers a sublime performance. So often the major thematic thrust of the story, the central conflict between Professor X and Magneto (Fassbender) is a recurring theme and provides excellent character moments between the two. The supreme dynamic shared by the duo is still intact.
The premise also allows an epic scope and features unprecedented action in the X-Men series. The sentinels provide a dominating adversary for mutants, which results in exquisite action sequences, both past and future.
Moreover, Days of Future Past also signals a return to form for director Bryan Singer, following his last outing in the comic book genre, the insipid Superman Returns. The X-Men represent some of Marvel’s most enduring characters and this installment is an impeccable testament to that.
The writers also deserve an honorable mention: the difficult concept of time travel is handled well without glaring loopholes. Also, tying proceedings to actual historical events, such as the Cuban missile crisis in First Class is a masterstroke. The outcome is a more cogent and captivating story.
Yet another unique aspect of X-Men is its social relevance. It retains laudable cultural context and tackles universal themes of isolation and discrimination. The notion of mutants is an extraordinary way of providing societal commentary, pertaining particularly to racism and sexuality.
The latest chapter in the X-Men saga does have minor glitches though. The costumes or lack thereof, remain poor. Keen observers will also notice that the inconsistent timeline and continuity are in disarray as well. However, these represent only slight concerns and take little away from an otherwise pulsating movie.
Ambitious and engaging in equal measure, Days of Future Past is action packed, brimming with emotion and has the feel of a comic book come to life.