To catch up on the X-Men films so far, go here.
I wasn’t a comic book reader growing up, I have to confess. But I did live with an avid fan and so Marvel was an ever present part of my childhood. We were particularly devoted to the X-Men cartoons (which are still awesome, by the way). I have watched all the previous films, including the much maligned X-Men Origins: Wolverine and was looking forward to Days of Future Past, despite the fact that I had absolutely NO IDEA what it was about. Fox managed to produce just about the vaguest trailer I’ve ever seen. ‘But what is it actually ABOUT?’ I asked every TV ad, promotional interview and trailer showing, to no avail.
Is it me?
Anyway, I saw, I followed the plot (hurrah!) and I really enjoyed. My expert brother dubbed this as the best Marvel film he’s seen and I think I might be tempted to agree with him. The acting is universally excellent (though some actors are appearing in what are essentially cameos – the trailer is a little misleading) and the plot was sophisticated and written with grown ups in mind. The pace was good too; I never felt like it dragged (always a plus for me in action films – too many of them go on forever nowadays).
The plot was well structured and cleverly layered. The time travel gambit wasn’t overly complicated and easy to get with straight off the bat. It was set up in such a way that the ‘how’ wasn’t really that important, making it a lot easier to follow. It was a smart idea to use Wolverine as a bridge between the two time periods; Hugh Jackman really holds the film together and keeps a level of consistency throughout. As I mentioned, the trailer is a little misleading – despite appearances, this film unquestioningly belongs to the First Class cast. With James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence and Hugh Jackman walking away with most of the screen time, you have four great actors and charismatic leads, who lend a lot of spark to the film. Excellent support is provided by Peter Dinklage as the bad guy and Nicholas Hoult, as Hank McCoy/Beast. He really delivered on the (then) Jekyll and Hyde aspect to his mutation. I also really enjoyed Evan Peters’ appearance as Quicksilver. He put in a charming and deftly comedic performance and I’m glad he’s set to appear in the planned next instalment.
The period setting really worked (the choice of combative US president felt inevitable) and I enjoyed the sharp contrast between the past and the present. One of the best things about the X-Men has always been the way it showcases the persecution and marginalisation of minority groups in society. This film really delivered for me on the complexities of being part of a maligned group and the hard choices to be made between turning the other cheek and fighting back. While a peaceful resolution is clearly preferred, the film allows us to understand Mystique and Magneto’s reasons for feeling like fighting fire with fire is their only option and gives its leads complicated morality codes.
While First Class was good, the return of Singer at the helm does add a richness to the film. The humour, casting, acting and action were all on point and I can’t wait to see what this team does with the Apocalypse story.
*There will be several film reviews coming up as I have been to the cinema a LOT recently – you have been warned!