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Back to the Past: A Review of X-Men: Days of Future Past

X-Men: Days of Future Past, the latest installment in the X-Men franchise, takes the series to the next level with its loaded cast and rich yet straight-forward plot, satisfying everyone in the audience from the highly informed comic book fanatic, to the bandwagon X-Men fan and everyone in between.

While Days of Future Past exceeds its predecessors in both cinematic quality and character development, at times it falls into the same “superhero movie template” that directors have struggled to escape. Bryan Singer, director and X-Men connoisseur, shows off his extensive knowledge of the characters by including a plethora of sharp dialogue and witty one-liners.

The movie begins in a futuristic, holocaust-esque concentration camp, representing a world in which humans and mutants alike face destruction at the hands of Sentinels, government-sanctioned, shape-shifting weapons. In the attempt to save the future of both human and mutantkind, the mutant crew, led by Charles “Professor X” Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Erik “Magneto” Lehnsherr (Ian McKellen) send Logan/Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back to 1973. Logan goes back the past to prevent Raven “Mystique” Darkholme (Jennifer Lawrence) from murdering the creator of the Sentinels, Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage).

Because Days of Future Past is, in the end, a superhero movie, we pretty much know that the good guys will save the day. Singer’s choice to focus on the emotional obstacles that characters face sets this movie apart from other superhero films. Rather than illustrating the story with blood bath after blood bath, Singer takes a step back and allows the audience to understand the characters on a more intimate level. The audience empathizes with Charles Xavier as he struggles to make the right choice and feels the tension between Erik and Charles’ passionate confrontation after many years. Intense scenes with Charles and Erik are eloquently brought to life by James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender. By highlighting the characters’ inner conflicts, Singer toys with themes that the audience can relate to, like loneliness and society’s creation of outcasts.

Days of Future Past has certain technical elements that viewers will surely appreciate. John Ottoman, the composer of the film’s score, arranges musical pieces that seamlessly convey tonal shifts and transitions. While the film score is noticeably superior to other technical aspects of the movie, Singer’s use of color to differentiate between the future and the past is both unoriginal and elementary. The viewer is transported back and forth between the post-apocalyptic, monochromatic future and the 70’s via a surplus of bright colors and cheesy references to the Vietnam War. Singer’s attempt to remain historically accurate to the 70’s was overkill.

However, by introducing more supporting mutant characters, like Peter “Quicksilver Maximoff (Evan Peters) and Bishop (Omar Sy), Singer pays homage to the intricacy of the Marvel Universe. Unfortunately, if you want to see Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen in their elements as the Professor X and Magneto we know and love, I would recommend sticking to the older movies. Because the movie focuses on the characters’ lives in the 70’s, the audience is, unfortunately, deprived of the older interpretations of Professor X and Magneto. Subtle hints at future movies, as well as clever references to the older X-Men movies and comics, will satisfy all of the hardcore X-Men comic book nerds out there (meant in the most endearing way possible).

In the end, it is Singer’s confidence in developing complex characters to tell a story that transcends the typical superhero flick, both thematically and cinematically, that truly makes X-Men: Days of Future Past a movie worth experiencing.


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