In the decade since Bryan Singer called the shots on X Men 2, not a single director has sat in the franchise chair for more than one outing. Following numerous spin offs, sequels and prequels, Singer has once again taken the reigns for X-Men: Days Of Future Past: the sequel to the spin off prequel (X Men: First Class) and previous sequel (X Men: The Last Stand), and like most time travel films it’s best not to think too much about it and just go along for the ride.
Opening in the tarnished, Mongolian dystopia of 2023: a CG-laden land ravaged by Sentinel robots designed to wipe out mutants, the film kicks off vibrantly, re-introducing Professor X, Magneto, Wolverine and Storm (amongst others) in a time where mutants and mankind are on the brink of extinction. To save the day, Wolverine is whisked back to 1973 to enlist the help of the younger Professor X (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) and stop the shape-shifting mutant Mystique from killing Sentinel creator Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage), an event which would trigger the future deployment of the machines.
Since Singer’s departure, the X Men series has lost some of it’s grounded debonair. The icy patina of his earlier films has been substituted with a toy shop aesthetic similar to Joel Schumacher’s Batman sequels. Where Singer’s originals were more comparable to the Dark Knight franchise in that they felt somewhat based in a tangible reality, the latter X-Men entries, including Days Of Future Past, are exuberant and cartoonish yet stylistically in sync with the Marvel film universe.
It is disappointing that Singer has not here re-injected the edge of the earlier X-Men films here but Days Of Future Past is far from a failure. It’s energetic and zesty with an intriguing central concept, acting as a sequel to various franchise strands, but is deployed with a mechanical rigour, lacking narrative ingenuity, guts and heart. Set pieces are slammed awkwardly together while some performances are downright hammy but Peter Dinklage and Michael Fassbender are excellent.
Days Of Future Past remains a punchy and fantastical action fest. With time travel, robots, zany costumes, it’s a franchise evolution that may alienate fans of the earlier more “serious” entries but presents a fascinating outlook for the future of the Marvel/ X-Men universe.
X Men: Days Of Future Past is released on 22nd May