Not since those ‘very special’ eps of ‘’Full House’’ and ‘’Hangin’ with Mr Cooper’’, where ‘Michelle’ would turn up on Mr. Cooper’s doorstep for a quick lesson in dribbling, has a crossover been so anticipated by the young – and young at heart. And lack of Olsen twin aside, the long-awaited wait for celebrated comic ‘’X-Men : Days of Future Past ‘’proves to be worth the creased-cushioned wait, delivering more satisfyingly than a fast-footed Hooters waitress.
The seventh ‘’X-Men’’ film (including the spin-offs featuring Melbourne’s most famous singing, dancing hairball) is all about second chances – with is quite fitting considering this film (and the last) is exactly what the ‘’X-Men’’ brand has been lucky enough to have been blessed with after it’s once fresh fissure was abused by a guy named Brett. But bounce back from that dreadful third ‘’X-Men’’ movie Fox’s foremost superhero series has – and it’s mostly thanks to one guy, Bryan Singer. The guy loves his ‘’X-Men’’ as much as he does elaborate unmentionable parties – and that’s rather evident in the one he’s helmed.
This, Singer’s third “X-Men” movie – as director; He may have only produced the previous chapter, First Class, but the movie had his fingerprints all over it- encompasses all the razzle dazzle of his original two films, but also the heart and character. Like Magneto lifting a stadium above his shoulders and giving it a good shake, Singer’s back to give the label a good ram, jump starting it like only a true, passionate fan can.
As if using film to say “sorry for fucking you guys over and leaving to direct a Superman movie instead”, Singer (Who departed his post as director of “X-Men : The Last Stand” to direct 2006’s ill-fated “Superman Returns”), Singer has made an out-and-out film for those die-hard “X” fans. Cross-pollinating the worlds of the original series (with old sports Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan back to reprise their roles) and recent the prequel (with Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence et al), his “X-Men : Days of Future Past” crams everything and anyone associated with the “X-Men” movies into a lengthy but unnoticeable 134 minutes.
As fans of the comic book arc are aware, “Days of Future Past” is this franchise’s ‘’Star Trek Generations’’ (1995) – all your favourites in the one movie, rubbing pointy bits and boot-slapping blue behinds (Granted, it’s a much better film than the “Trek” orgy, if only because this flick started with a story not with a roll call, but it’s the best example I could come up with in time to get this review to print). And by all accounts, it’ll likely be the last time mutants old and new come together – so wrap your arms around this bitch and appreciate it.
The future. It’s stuffed. The Sentinels – a robot class put into action some years ago – have just about wiped out all the X-Men. It apparently all started to go wrong back in the ‘70s, when the morally-conflicted mutant Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) went and assassinated the guy (Peter Dinklage) responsible for the bots. You’d think that the blue bird’s deed would’ve been the solution to everything – and she did too – but it only made things worse… resulting in every mutant being targeted for termination.
Is there a fix? Well, maybe. Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) is convinced she can send someone’s conscience back into their younger self, to help right the wrongs before they take place. That person ends up being ageless, quick-healing mutant Wolverine (Hugh Jackman). With senior mutants – and former enemies – Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellen) watching on, Pryde sends chief hairy chest back to the ‘70s.
While in “Life on Mars” mode, the clawed one teams up with the younger incarnations of his X-Men friends – namely Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult) – to prevent events from ever taking place, therefore assuring themselves a brighter future. Easier said than done, synopsis-boy.
It’s amazing that this has come together as well as it has – with such a complicated storyline, involving so, so many characters, one almost expects a lightweight cameo affair where star 1 gets their two minutes of camera-oogling before throwing to star 2. Instead, the majority of the casts get not only terrific arcs, but a lot of screen time, and some choice moments working together. Jackman’s his usual scene-stealing self, as Wolverine, but he’s near outdone here by the sheer power of the Charles and Xavier’s – McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan all as terrific as ever. Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Ellen Page and a couple of others got a good couple of months work on the movie – as would’ve Peter Dinklage, playing Trask, the Sentinels Pty Ltd boss.
There’s also appearances by quite a few other “X-Men” franchise staples, including Halle Berry, Shawn Ashmore, Daniel Cudmore, and Lucas Till – and other surprise additions, who I won’t spoil. Barely anyone has been forgotten about – well, perhaps Anna Paquin, whose Rogue has been relegated to a couple of seconds of screen time at the end of the film, and reportedly, some bits left on the cutting room floor.
Though he’s only in it fleetingly, Evan Peters is a blast as Quicksilver – the speedy chap who (as you’ve seen in the clips and trailers) helps breaks Magneto (in the comics, he’s actually Quicksilver’s father) out of prison. Peters, known for his role on ‘’American Horror Story’’, is a delight in the role – particularly amusing.
Singer’s proficient direction, coupled with John Ottoman’s immense and unsettling music score, and some eye-popping special-effects results in a very big, epic picture that’s sound and vision will leave sweat marks on the theater screen and Dolby speakers aligning the carpeted walls. It’s a really decent effort.
Look, there are a few problem areas – some of the supporting characters have been miscast (Aussie Josh Helman makes for a pretty weak young Bill Stryker, the character Brian Cox played in “X2”), the story beats are a bit too convoluted and messy, and the conclusion to the thing feels a bit cold and compromised (likely only noticeable because the first half of the film is such a blast), but unlike Paquin’s agent, you’ll still feel as though you’ve been looked after.
The ‘Rogue Cut’ restores Anna Paquin’s scenes. Basically, Charles (Patrick Stewart), Eric (Ian McKellen) and Bobby (Shawn Ashmore) travel to the score to save Rogue, who is being experimented on for her powers. Though they get to her, they lose Bobby in the process. When they get back to the complex, Rogue steals Kitty’s powers – almost killing her – before carrying on. Unlike how it goes down in the film, with Kitty, it’s all a little ‘too simple’ in it’s fix.
As the screenwriters had said, in various interviews since the film’s release, these few minutes not only added nothing to the film but Rogue’s scenes took away from the film’s urgency, narratively-speaking. So it made sense to cut the subplot.
There’s a couple of other moments that have been restored for the film too – a sequence with Raven and Hank – but by and large, the standard version of the film is superior.
Blu-ray : Accompanying a fantastic audio and video presentation are a large bag of extras including the documentary “Mutant vs. Machine”, X-Men: Unguarded, Gallery and a sneak peek of the new “Fantastic Four” movie.