Director: Bryan Singer
Screenplay: Simon Kinberg
Cast: Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Halle Berry, Anna Paquin, Ellen Page, Peter Dinklage, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart
The scandalous allegations plaguing Director Bryan Singer aren’t enough to deny the fact that X-Men: Days of Future Past is a sleek, bold and intelligent film that can go down as one of the finest superhero films in history.
But don’t get me wrong: The Last Stand and and the first Wolverine spin-off are still two grave and unforgivable bumps in the road.
The movie opens with the introduction of a problem. In 2023, the mutants are being hunted by sentient robots known as Sentinels. The robots are heavily-equipped, highly-skilled and extremely adaptable as a large chunk of their features was patterned after Mystique, a mutant whose most prominent ability is shapeshifting. The remaining mutants then set off to save their species by preventing the future from happening.
Using Kitty Pride’s superpowers, Wolverine’s consciousness is brought back to where he was in 1973 in order to gather mutants including erstwhile best friends Magneto and Professor X, who will in turn help prevent Bolivar Trask from creating the Sentinels. Will our heroes succeed? Duh.
By presenting a predicament that is much larger in scale and more powerful than the most powerful of mutants, its first act steered and anchored the film into the right direction. It established a great amount of fear and urgency which made the rest of the film all the more gripping and riveting in its succeeding chapters.
Working to the film’s advantage is its capitalization on a dark tone, especially its first half. As exemplified by Christopher Nolan’s Batman series, the incorporation of a brooding mood plays well for superhero films as it treats the characters not just mere caricatures and mascots but as multi-dimensional people who are just as beleaguered as anyone else. Or maybe even more.
But the move to feature the film in a dark tone is hardly surprising at all as Singer is known for incorporating this style to his craft, as proven by the first two X-Men films which he proudly and victoriously helmed. And, of course, it is no secret that Fox is aiming to replicate the success (both critically and commercially) of those movies so they will let the gifted director do as he pleases.
If the film’s first act was right on point, its second act and finale were equal parts suspenseful and explosive. This, of course, is largely thanks to the spotless production, impeccable directing, and faithful screenplay.
Through Singer’s smart direction, the audience was treated to a visual spectacle that highly engages and entertains. His camerawork choices, although surprising at some points, were effective for the most parts. Moreover, he proved, once again, that he has that rare ability to take a handful of characters and make the final output feel like it isn’t crowded at all.
Because if there’s anything we have learned from Singer, it is that he fears no one. Case in point: he reduced Oscar-winning actress Anna Paquin’s role into a cameo (don’t fret: her deleted scenes will be featured in the DVD version). Another case in point: the introduction of Peter Maximoff’s role (or Pietro, based on his comic book name) and other lesser-known mutants was effortless but the movie still does not feel bloated with too much characters.
But Singer’s best achievement in the movie remains to be his impressive understanding of the X-Men and, to some extent, Marvel mythos – an ability that is hard to come by especially with the directors of movies adapted from superhero/comic books. I am looking at you, Zack Snyder.
Simon Kinberg’s screenplay is also deserving of praise as its faithfulness to the source material paved the way for great storytelling. Aside from introducing fully-realized personalities, the screenplay likewise allowed breathing spaces for the development of the major and minor characters alike. Also, the subtle yet sharp dialogues, which can now be added to the new canon of quotable quotes from the cinema, pierced through the audiences.
Days of Future Past also triumphs due to its talented cast. Despite his reprisal of the Wolverine role for the fifth time already, Hugh Jackman still has not lost his charms and skill. Jennifer Lawrence is emotionally-invested in her character and displays raw talent. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, as the warring frenemies, were committed and stunning. Peter Dinklage, on the other hand, stood out as a formidable villain. Nicholas Hoult, Evan Peters and Ellen Page did more than hold their own while Halle Berry and Shawn Ashmore did all that they could to maximize their short screen time.
But despite the Hollywood A-listers in the movie, acting veterans Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen still emerged as the heavyweights. Unlike the performances of the other actors, theirs were nuanced and refined but still impactful. With Days of Future Past, Stewart and McKellen cemented their positions as the true stars of the film series.
Not only did the movie cleverly stitch up the plots of the original trilogy and and the recent reboot, it also provided new possibilities and story arcs that can be explored in the movies to come.
X-Men: Days of Future Past is a must-watch. Not only because it’s a good superhero film but because it’s an intelligent and fast-paced movie that teeters on becoming the best of its genre.
MNL Film Club Score: 1.00
PS. And about the post-credits scene: let’s just say that the Apocalypse is upon us.