Let’s not mince words – X-Men: Days of Future Past is great. It’s The Avengers of the X-Men franchise, and every bit as impressive. Set following the events of X-Men: The Last Stand and last year’s The Wolverine, Days of Future Past jumps forward to the dystopian future of 2023 where mutants, their supporters and any humans who might give birth to mutants, are being enslaved and annihilated by the Sentinels – powerful robots originally conceived 50 years earlier by military scientist Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage).
In this future, Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) joins the cast of the original X-Men trilogy – including the likes of Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, and Ellen Page – in a last-ditch attempt to stop the war with the Sentinels from ever happening. The story wastes no time getting to its time travel element, as Wolverine’s consciousness is sent into the past into his younger body in order to try and stop Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from assassinating Trask. This was the event that created government support for the Sentinel program, without which the Sentinel war never would have happened.
Back in the past, Jackman joins the prequel cast of X-Men: First Class. His mission as Wolverine is to locate a young and disillusioned Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and reunite him with friend and enemy Magneto (Michael Fassbender) in order to stop Mystique from killing Trask. The clever premise serves to tie together all of the existing X-Men films, while simultaneously rebooting the series in the vein of 2009’s timey-wimey Star Trek, which preserved previous continuity in the franchise while creating a fresh slate for the series moving forward.
Helmed by director Bryan Singer, the man who first brought mutants to the big screen with the original X-Men and X-Men 2, everything about Days of Future Past works and reminds us of why we fell in love with these characters in the first place. Singer isn’t afraid to introduce new faces however, as Peter ‘Quicksilver’ Maximoff (Evan Peters), a fast-talking mutant who runs at supersonic speeds, just about steals the show despite his brief appearance. Quicksilver has one grandstanding scene in particular that’s sure to go down as one of the year’s most memorable moments in film.
The action is exciting, the acting is on point, the story is intelligent and the themes – of hope and of salvation – resonate. It’s the little details too that sell the production. With Easter eggs everywhere and small touches like the return of the recognisable X-Men theme from the original X-Men trilogy, Days of Future Past aims to please fans without pandering to them at the expense of the experience.
For a film this complex, it moves effortlessly. If you’re not familiar with the franchise then the level of entry is a touch higher than something like The Avengers, but it’s nonetheless a movie of equal importance that has successfully revitalised the X-Men brand for the future. Days of Future Past will go down as one of the all-time best comic book movies and a watershed entry for the 14-year-old film series (and still going strong!). Stay to the very end of the credits for a tease of 2016’s X-Men: Apocalypse!