We got the chance to go to an early screening of X-men: Days of Future Past courtesy of Mountain Dew and their Green Screen. We often have to remind ourselves that whilst X-men are a part of the Marvel Universe, in the movie world, the rights aren’t owned by them, which is why they haven’t featured in any cross-overs (yet). Still, X-Men Days of Future Past goes crossing over itself, both in timelines and in characters, with old stalwarts Patrick Stewart, Sir Ian McKellen, Hugh Jackman, Ellen Page, Kelsey Grammar, Anna Paquin and Halle Berry reprising their roles from the X-men last trilogy. However, with all these characters, time lines and a story to tell in between, does it work out well?
The movie focuses on everyone’s favourite X-man, Wolverine, who currently lives in a future where the Sentinels have advanced their programming and are simply killing everyone and everything with a pulse. There’s only one way to stop this, and that’s by taking a hop, skip and a jump back through time to the point at which things took a turn for the worse for mutant kind back in 1973 – where the genetically regular people felt threatened by mutants and want to defend themselves. So off that burly adamantium claw wielding mutant goes to try and stop this, crossing paths with the younger mutants that he knew fully grown, and also mostly dead.
At the outset, the concept of timetravel is explained as casting a person’s conciousness back in time into their younger body. Its almost a throw away comment, but its incredibly pivotol in explaining what happens in the first ridiculously adrenaline fueled scenes and the very core of the plot. Funnily enough, that’s the tone adopted throughout the movie, as it takes no prisoners if you lack knowledge of the X-men or simply can’t keep up. There lies, arguably, its greatest flaw and its greatest asset. It panders to the fanboys who know it so well, but if you go in blind, you are doomed from the start.
Our first scene shows the dystopian future, and some mutants battling sentinels. If you’ve seen the past trilogy, you’ll recognise some, but not all. Fortunately, we’ve created a mutant crib sheet to help you along the way. The number of stars in this movie is staggering, with several role reprisals from the last trilogy, Storm, Iceman, Shadowcat, Professor X, Magneto, Cyclops, Jean Grey and Colossus to through a few returning faces at you, as well as the younger Professor X, Magneto, Mystique, Quicksilver and Beast being the main cast. Packing all of these characters and actors into one movie always sounded like it would be a problem, one the past trilogy failed so spectacular with for The Last Stand, and unfortunately it succumbs yet again.
With so many big character names and actors, screen time is drastically reduced for everyone involved. We noted in our review of X-men First Class, that the chemistry between Professor X and Magneto, played by McAvoy and Fassbender, was the very best thing it had going for it, and whilst some of it is shown yet again in X-Men Days of Future Past, it is sadly nowhere near the same level and we feel this has a negative impact. The best of this comes on the private jet, and is a scene to watch out for. Similarly, future Professor X and Magneto, Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellen, haven’t got their screen time together. It is left to individuals to make the best of their scenes, and without a shadow of a doubt Evan Peters who plays Quicksilver, steals the early part of the show, whilst Fassbender’s steely coolness, arrogance and power is a joy to watch throughout.
All of that being said, if you can keep up, the plot never lets up and everything moves forward at a fairly constant speed. Whilst the action comes in limited doses, its certainly rewarding, and is enough to keep the attention of even the best drifting audience member. The set pieces are on a grand scale, from the Pentagon to the Whitehouse, with the mutants testing the very limits of their powers. Funnily enough, whilst in the 1970s, poor Wolverine has only got bones for claws, and the vigilant fans will know instantly this is because he hasn’t undergone the military testing, but it will catch some people unawares.There are little nuggets like that throughout for the fanboys, with references to future events, the comics and the other movies thrown in all over the place.
How can one think of the X-Men reboot without everyone’s favourite woman, Jennifer Lawrence? Sadly, her role is drastically reduced, and she rarely spends any time in that sexy form we know and love so well, preferring to be either blue or someone else entirely! Very disappointing from the visual aspect there.
Ultimately, whilst they’ve toyed with the source material to make X-Men Days of Future Past, what we get is a great film with a good plot, a stellar cast, amazing action and effects and a really excellent overall experience. The greatest coup, however, is how it rewrites the entire history of the X-Men, erasing that horrific ending to the last trilogy (oh god how The Last Stand hurt to watch) and allows for a whole new direction for the characters so many of us know and love.
If you’ve seen all the previous X-Men movies, you’ll probably enjoy it: 4 out of 5.
If you read the comics then this will be a bit of a let down: 3 out of 5.
If you’ve never seen the X-Men before this is a horrific opener for you: 2 out of 5.
As we said at the start, this a pre-screening of X-Men Days of Future Past, courtesy of Mountain Dew and their Green Screen. The cinema can be quite a stale experience: you go in to the same old lobbies, see posters for up coming movies, pop to the concessions stands, ticket box or machine, then sit down for a few hours before leaving. The Mountain Dew Green Screen sought to bring a bit more fun to the cinema, with photobooths, competitions and also drafting a few familiar faces from TV to enjoy the movie with. We did notice Ricky from the Kaiser Chiefs and Channel 4’s new young magician Troy. All in all, we think cinemas should take note!