ReviewAway: X-Men: Days of Future Past
There’s a fine line that a film based of a book needs to tread. Literature and Cinema are immensely different mediums that both present their own pros and cons, challenges and benefits, and strengths and weaknesses. Making films out of comic books is arguably harder than adapting a film from a book, because whilst a book has its own story structure, characters, and interactions, comics have all this, plus their own visual style, and decades of lore and character development. Let me put it this way, imagine making a sandwich; now imagine making a sandwich living in a famous sandwich making family using a very specific recipe but also trying to make it enjoyable for people who aren’t sandwich connoisseurs. That’s what’s it’s like trying to make a good comic book movie.
The main problem that many comic book movies have had and will have is that they need to both appeal to the general public and fans of the comics. Some do (Think “Spiderman” from 2002), some don’t (Think “Daredevil”… actually, try not to think about “Daredevil”). X-Men is a franchise that has been on both ends of the stick. After starting off strong with its two debut films in the early 2000’s, but the series bottomed out in quality by the time the “Wolverine: Origins” movie rolled around. Origins was popular with audiences but panned by critics and fans alike, but most of the damage was repaired by the decent “The Wolverine” and the incredibly strong prequel “X-Men: First Class”. So, with first class being a success and interest in the franchise renewed, a sequel was soon in the works.
Truth be told, I was excited for Days of Future Past for two reasons; firstly, “Days of Future Past” is perhaps the most well known story arcs of the original Uncanny X-Men comic series, which is my personal favourite X-Men line. Secondly, it was announced that the film would feature Warpath, my favourite member of the X-Men, so I was going into this film with a guarantee that I’d at least get to see Warpath and some Sentinels. I got that, and so much more.
I intentionally stayed away from as many details of this film as I could, because I desperately wanted to be surprised by as much as I could, and the film managed to do that fairly well. The films plot isn’t an exact adaptation of the comics, but it doesn’t stray too wildly from the comics either, which makes the story quite interesting to follow, and it makes the film consistently interesting. There’s an excellent blend of action sequences, exposition, dialogue and comedic moments, and they mostly don’t interfere with each other, so whilst the films tone may vary in decent sized chunks, it doesn’t change randomly from scene to scene like most of “Origins”.
In terms of the characters, the film follows more along the lines of “First Class” than the first three films. Just like in first class, the performances are great from all of the actors. Macavoy and Fassbender’s portrayals of Professor X and Magneto respectively are on par with Patrick Stewart and Ian Mckellen, and the chemistry between both sets of actors in this film is superb. Hugh Jackman gives us another great performance as Wolverine, and Jennifer Lawrence brings a deep sense of humanity (or Mutantity) to the character of Mystique. Peter Dinklage was excellent as Bolivar Trask, bringing an intense calmness to the role without being flat, although I’m still not really quite sure why Dinklage was cast, as he bears almost no resemblance to the Trask of the comics, though I suppose ti doesn’t really matter.
The film looks great, capturing the dark empty look of the alternate future and the colour and flair of the 1970’s. However, in terms of look, I did not like the new design of the Sentinels at all. The ones in the future look like generic smooth looking alien robots, and they almost look like exact scale replicas of the Destroyer from “Thor”. The design of the Sentinels doesn’t fare any better in the past, where they have massive desk fans embedded in their chests because… I have no idea. The Sentinels don’t appear too much throughout the film, but I felt that most of their appearances were a little disappointing due to their odd design.
The film’s comedy sequences are actually decently funny, and don’t delve into the same wells over and over again, and the film does mix up the comedy quite a bit, with a dab of slapstick for the audience but also a lot of good jokes that make the characters seem much more realistic and grounded, and this keeps the film from wandering into pretentiousness at most times. There is one scene that was maybe a little unnecessary from a comic point of view, but it fits into the film nicely.
Do yourself a favour and see this film. If you’re a fan of the X-Men you’ll love the characters and the subtle references to the comics, and if you just wanna see a good film it’s got plenty of cool action sequences and memorable moments. Also Warpath is in it, and he’s the best.
Overall Verdict: Strong, smart, and well paced, “X-Men: Days of Future Past” ticks all the boxes of a great movie that appeals to both the casual filmgoer and the hardcore comic aficionado.