Allowing one of the mutant corps to travel back to save a perilous present paves the way for all of the X-Men to find their better selves. And who wouldn't want a chance to do that?
The massive top-drawer cast — basically anyone who's ever had a walk-on in an X-Men movie shows up — has never been better employed either. It is amusing and at times moving to see the older and younger versions of key characters as they rewrite a bit of X-Men history. And when they talk to themselves, well, it makes for some special meta moments.
"Days of Future Past" is Singer's first time back in the "X-Men" director's chair since 2003's "X-Men 2." Though he's slated to handle 2016's "X-Men: Apocalypse," the sexual abuse lawsuit that surfaced this spring make that less certain. If this should be the director's last "X-Men," it will stand as his best.
Meanwhile, screenwriter Simon Kinberg was clearly just getting warmed up with 2011's
Kinberg not only reenergizes the X-idea in the new film, he erases most of the damage done by the disappointment of 2009's
As the one chosen to make the journey back in time, Logan is also the one charged with persuading Professor X and Erik/Magneto (
Logan's job is to stop a single event that involves Raven/Mystique (
As the film opens, the mutants are under siege. The 18-foot-tall Sentinels, a robotic fighting force, is aiming to wipe them out. The scientist who designed the Sentinels is long dead, and therein lies the rub. Wolverine's conversations with the younger Xs need to ensure that Dr. Bolivar Trask (Dinklage) will survive. It is a good thing to hope for, if for no other reason than to possibly see the actor do even more with this complicated villain in the coming "Apocalypse."
Though the mutants have always had a range of issues that accompany their particular gifts —
The idea of intolerance and discriminating against differences has always been a central theme. Yet "Future Past" lets the discussion and debate about the mutants' status play out across time in fresh ways. Creating two eras essentially requires creating two movie sets. Production and costume design make the most of the details, the exceptional special effects have a grand time taking Washington down, while the sound — from score to effects — is spot-on.
There are too many tricks up "X-Men's" sleeve to begin to mention, but do watch for Quicksilver/Peter (
It must be said that the director melds the past and the future together, mixing eras and metaphors in ways both hard-core fans and the completely uninitiated can enjoy and understand. More significant — the film's emotions are as transformative as the mutants.
The actors have a field day unleashing all of those pent-up feelings. McAvoy and Fassbender in particular are electric fighting and joining forces and then fighting again. As it always has been, the fate of the X-Men ultimately lies in the health of their relationship. I think the future is safe.
'X-Men: Days of Future Past'
MPAA rating: PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi violence and action, some suggestive material, nudity and language
Running time: 2 hours, 11 minutes