Some apologies are more sincere than others and X-Men: Days of Future Past may just have the distinction of being 20th Century Fox and Bryan Singer’s most expensive apology ever. Why? Essentially, the seventh X-Men installment (counting the two Wolverine one-offs) renders a lot of 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand moot. That picture sent comic book fans into a frenzy with how sub par it was after Brett Ratner took over the directorial reigns from Singer, who made the high quality first two flicks.
In order for Singer to pull off his most miraculous trick since Kevin Spacey started walking straight almost 20 years ago, the franchise must incorporate time travel. That means we get to see the cast from the original trilogy and those who populated 2011’s X-Men: First Class, which triumphantly reinvigorated the series.
At the center of it all is Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, who warps back and forth between 1973 and the near future. In the “sort of” present, giant robots called Sentinels are exterminating Earth’s mutant species. Charles Xavier/Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and Erik/Magneto (Ian McKellen) have actually formed a truce (maybe) to fight them. The solution involves having Wolverine go back 40 years to stop Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from killing Trask (Peter Dinklage), the Sentinel’s creator. Once Wolverine is among the glorious 70s fashion, he has to find younger Charles (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) and convince them to work together (no easy assignment) to alter history. Even President Richard Nixon is part of the action, though it’s never established if any of the future dwellers helped him out with that whole Watergate thing.
Along the way, we’re introduced to a new character that inspires the coolest sequence in the picture. That’s Quicksilver (Evan Peters), whose super fast abilities allow for a rather jaw dropping action scene. His presence in the upcoming sequels will be welcome I trust.
To set the future right, Charles can only truly help by giving up a nasty drug addiction that renders his telepathy useless, but allows him to walk. Only by embracing his paralyzed status can he enter the Cerebro chamber and do his Professor X thing. In essence, he’s sort of like the cinematic Bizarro equivalent of Lieutenant Dan.
Besides the company already mentioned, other X-Men favorites (and not so favorites) return. There’s Beast and Shadowcat and Iceman. Halle Berry returns as Storm and, just like in the original trilogy, she doesn’t add much to the proceedings.
For all the time travel gobbledygook, Future Past works best as a highly entertaining action pic spent with old friends. Singer proved himself a great choice for the X material (unlike with Superman) in 2000 and 2002 and that holds true today. We already know how effective Jackman and the fine actors playing young and old Professor X and Magneto are. And with Jennifer Lawrence having become one of the biggest stars in the world since First Class, her role as Mystique is certainly magnified, as would be expected.
Future Past continues the positive trend that the series has been on since First Class washed the bad taste of Last Stand away. Brett Ratner might deservedly feel like a scapegoat once the credits roll here, but you’ll feel pretty satisfied.
*** (out of four)