In 2006, when “X-Men: The Last Stand” was released, many believed was a giant step in the wrong direction for the X-Men franchise, undoing all of the characteristics that made the previous films a pair of critical successes. Those cynics felt that the release of “X-Men: First Class” in 2011, righted the course of the franchise, sporting a strong script, cast and direction.
Because of “X-Men: First Class’s” success, anticipation for “X-Men: Days of Future Past” was monumental, with the potential of further freeing the franchise from the embarrassment that was Brett Ratner’s installment. Matthew Vaughn, who co-wrote the script for “X-Men: Days of Future Past”, may have saved the franchise with First Class, but with Bryan Singer’s return to the helm, “X-Men: Days of Future Past” does everything Vaughn’s film did and more, quite possibly making this the best film of the series thus far.
Due to the dystopian nature of the plot, the film takes on an appropriately dark tone that makes the film feel like a more mature superhero film. This darkness is not just seen in scenes of the future world ravaged by tyranny — there are plenty of moments in the past that display the deep struggles of creating future peace. Additionally, much of the script’s strength comes from the parallels created between both time periods. Because of these parallels, the film creates a palpable level of suspense that carries the action forward and unnerves the audience.
The film, however, does show good balance between a dark and light-hearted tone. There are many moments of comic relief, mostly coming from Wolverine, that break the tension when necessary and keep the dark tones from becoming overwhelming. Furthermore, like “X-Men: First Class”, the direction is not only stylish, but also assured. As fast-paced as the film is, Singer is still able to create the illusion of slowing things down for more dramatic sequences, creating a more engaging affair.
As far as the cast goes, “X-Men: Days of Future Past” somehow manages to surpass what “X-Men: First Class” accomplished. Without a doubt, the cast of “X-Men: First Class” was one of the film’s many assets, but there were moments when it seemed Michael Fassbender was carrying the show as Magneto, which is fine to an extent. His performance was powerful, but sometimes it overshadowed the brilliant work done by James McAvoy and Jennifer Lawrence.
This time, the playing field is completely levelled, allowing everyone to shine no matter how screen time they have. Hugh Jackman is the same colorful Wolverine and Fassbender continues where he left off, while McAvoy and Lawrence outdo their first performances for their respective characters. Even Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart, both of whom have supporting roles in this film, display their abilities to captivate an audience in spite of their limited screen time. With the wonderful script these actors were given, it would have been hard to produce something with a lower quality than the previous film.
Make no mistake, “X-Men: Days of Future Past” is not only one of the best films in the X-Men series, it is this year’s best summer blockbuster so far, and it is one of the better superhero films to come out in recent years. With the bar already set fairly high by “X-Men: First Class”, “X-Men: Days of Future Past” clears the bar, and then some. After two successful films, most people are sure to forget the frustrations caused by The Last Stand. The future is bright for the X-Men series, and after this film’s post-credit sequence, even a little mysterious, at least for those of us unfamiliar with the comic series. Make the X-Men a part of your summer, and I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
Rating: 3 ½ stars out of 4