It’s easy to forget the first film X-Men film – released in 2000 – kickstarted the superhero obsession that’s dominated Hollywood for over a decade. Things have moved on since, but director Bryan Singer – the man who started it all – is back, after fading into relevant obscurity himself.
Fourteen years and two casts later, X-Men: Days of Future Past finds itself in an odd position. You’d like it to have that same nostalgic fun of old, but you’re not quite sure if it will still work after the success and freshness of Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class.
Days of Future Past follows Wolverine, sent back into the past by the X-Men, to a time 10 years after the events of First Class. Charged with a desperate mission to change the course of history and prevent an event that results in doom for both humans and mutants, Wolverine but bring the young mutants back together, and lead a charge to save mankind as they know it.
With great relief, the old Magneto’s (McKellen) still got it, as do Professor X (Stewart) and Wolverine (Jackman). The film sets up its plot quickly, and makes sense of what’s to come, putting fears of a patchy time travel plot to rest. What we have instead is a larger story delivered with great momentum and compelling character arcs. The fight scenes are terrific too, with each big action sequence highlighting a specific mutant skill set, like they did in the cartoons of the 90s.
Whilst the extensive cast must have racked up quite a bit of the film’s alleged $240 million production budget, more often than not you what you pay for, and there are ever impressive turns from Fassbender and McAvoy. Both do an incredible job of grounding something human into a story that waves in and out of the fantastical at the blink of an eye. Such a large cast does mean that it’s hard to get anything meaningful out of certain characters – Storm barely utters five words for example – but as an ensemble, it is very well played.
It seems like all the summ er blockbusters this year are coming in spring, but Days of Future Past will surely hold up as one of the year’s best. Tights are back in this season, or maybe they were never out?