With director Bryan Singer returning to helm the latest movie installment of Marvel’s merry mutants, will luck run in threes for him (since Longshot and Domino are nowhere to be found), or will the return of the original X-cast bring back too much memories of X3? We managed to catch the movie during the Southeast Asian premiere, and here’s what we think.
Long story short: X-Men: Days Of Future Past (X-Men:DOFP) is well worth watching, especially if you’ve been a fan of the previous movies. When we left the screening we were considering whether it was even better than Captain America: The Winter Soldier in terms of superhero movies of this summer, and no, it isn’t. Cap Am 2 is a better movie, but if you’re a fan of the movie mutants, you will have tons of fun with this.
X-Men: DOFP is very very loosely based on the comics – here, Wolverine has to return to the past to get Professor X and Magneto to team up and convince Mystique not to do something that will end all mutants. It’s a direct continuation of the great X-Men: First Class (whose writers, Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman, are back together with the *gasp* X3 writer Simon Kinberg), and you know where Magneto left Xavier then …
It’s all up to Hugh Jackman’s charming Wolverine to convince the long-time foes to team up again, and the film manages to balance some good action set pieces with humour. It even adds a dash of wink and nudge to longtime fans of the movie series, being more than happy to reference the old movies. New fans to the franchise won’t get lost in the story, but it’s the old fans who will enjoy it the most, thanks to reappearing characters to alluded-at history.
The cast does a pretty fine job of keeping us enthralled too – Fassbender and McAvoy are still a great movie bromance, while Jennifer Lawrence shows that while she mostly does unhinged in her movies, she does it very, very well. Also, she doesn’t wear much – so if you’re into blue skin you’re in luck.
But what really helped us settle in was how Quicksilver, who everybody loved to hate the more they saw him in previews, was an absolute riot. Sure, Evan Peter’s version is quite different from the comic-book, but one set piece early in the movie helps cement his place in the ranks of memorable X-Men movie characters (remember Azazel?). It’s a scene-stealing performance, and perfect in terms of the amount we see of Mr Maximoff (just enough). And yes, this means that Avengers 2 is going to have a speedy battle on its hands.
But with tons of X-Men thrown in (even Ink makes an appearance) Singer’s balancing act was going to be way beyond what Joss Whedon achieved with Avengers – and I’ll have to say on the most part Singer nailed it. Key, of course, was to focus on a core group of characters, while still allowing the rest to display various aspects of their powers – a huge joy for any fanperson. Kitty Pryde – the original heroine of the comics’ Days Of Future Past storyline (no thanks to Jennifer Lawrence / Wolverine) – gets a major role in helping get the show going, but it’s through a very, very weird version of her powers. Don’t ask me to explain. I can’t.
(Slight spoilers ahead) One could argue that some characters deserved more screen time, or that the philosophical wranglings in the final third could have been done with a more deft hand. Some comic book nerds will be up in arms in the portrayals of certain characters too (but when a movie gives you M-Series Sentinels, you don’t complain). But in the end, this is Bryan Singer’s best film since X2 (and even Usual Suspects), and just a fun superhero yarn. It brings new legs to the tale of Professor X and his team, and is even a first in-continuity retcon for movies – but with this after First Class and Wolverine, I’ll say the future is pretty dazzling.
I guess the clincher for me – other than the after-credit sequence which leads into the (already announced) sequel – is how the movie totally destroys what happened in X3. Huzzah!