Saturday 14 March 2015

Film: X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

I have more or less kept up with the X-Men films (barring the odd offshoot) as it is one of the better fantasy series of recent times, so I ordered the DVD as soon as it became available. What follows has some minor spoilers so, if you insist on every development coming as a surprise (in which case, why read reviews?) you had better stop now – I'll just say that it's definitely worth seeing.

I found the start rather confusing because I had formed the impression beforehand that it was the sequel to X-Men: First Class, which was set in the 1960s; probably because of the advertised presence of Jennifer Lawrence rather than Rebecca Romijn as Mystique.  However, the beginning consists of a series of savage combats set in a bleak future world wrecked by warfare, in which the X-Men have been hunted to near-extinction by the Sentinels, artificial humanoids specifically designed to detect and kill them. The few survivors, including an aged Professor X and Magneto working together, had deduced that the war was started by one act in 1973 – the killing by Mystique of Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage), the creator of the Sentinels. There is just one chance of changing history – so the time-shifting talent of one of the X-Men is used to send the mind of Wolverine back to inhabit his body in 1973, to try to prevent the assassination.

What follows is a race against time as Wolverine, now in 1973, tries to recruit the help of reluctant younger versions of Professor X and Magneto in finding Mystique and dissuading her from killing Trask, before the Sentinels in the future locate the last X-Men and destroy Wolverine's unconscious body. Of course that isn't simple and a series of complications ratchets up the tension, with some great set-pieces leading up to the climax.

The mood is darker than I recall from the previous films, but the plot is more focused and the dramatic pacing is very good. All in all, this film more than maintains the standard of the others. It was good to see Famke Janssen again, albeit briefly, but I still much prefer Rebecca Romijn's version of Mystique!

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