Review | X-Men: Days of Future Past

4.5

XMenDaysofFuturePast
James McAvoy’s Xavier uses Cerebro one more time

It has been now 14 years since Bryan Singer took the risky task to bring the X-Men to the big screens, on the summer of 2000. On that portion of time, the superhero genre would become in a worldwide mania, and the main responsible for filling big hollywood studios’ bank accounts. Between hits and misses, the mutant franchise did well, but it’s with X-Men: Days of Future Past that Singer faces his biggest challenge, both as director and helmer of the franchise.

The plot takes inspiration from one of the most celebrated X-Men stories of all time, envolving the team on a distant future, fighting the deadly Sentinels, giant robots specialized in killing mutants. Hoping to prevent the conflit from ever occouring, Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) sends Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back to his body in 1973, where he seeks for the team’s younger versions to prevent a critical event that would culminate in the creation of the Sentinels.

A movie with such scale, and a cast so big that can barely fit on the poster, is a danger by definition: it can be bloated, incoherent or misplaced, typical risks of productions such as this. Luckily, Bryan Singer and writer Simon Kinberg find a perfect balance point to tell the X-Men’s grandest story yet. Set both in the past and the dystopic future, editor John Ottman (also in charge of the excellent score) travels flowly among the two temporal lines, even if the action is centered in the 70s – a wise decision considering X-Men: First Class massive acclaim.

Regarding the time travel theme, it remains one of the most complex elements not only from cinema, but of our scientific comprehension. Singer himself has declared he had meetings with none other than James Cameron to fully understand the concept (it’s funny to see how Singer clearly takes inspiration from The Terminator by always showing the future at a dark, blue night and by making Wolverine wake up with no clothes on his younger body) of parallel realities and temporal paradoxes. There remains the movie’s major problem, opting for confusing theories (after all, which one is it? Immutable? Simultaneous time?) that often bring problems with the Theory of Chaos and the series’ own linearity. The confusion thickens during the third act, but it doesn’t really damage the bigger picture.

First of all, the dream team cast of any fan of the genre. Hugh Jackman’s usual charisma is great as ever, but it also lends plenty of time to James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, who keep on brilliantly reinventing their characters (Magneto has never been this radical, and Xavier is unbelievable wild and cool) at the same time the movie tries to give space to the original cast. We have Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart’s golden presence, as well as quick scenes with Halle Berry, Anna Paquin (blink, miss), Ellen Page, among many others. The team even finds space to some new charismatic mutants – chinese actress Fan Bingbing’s Blink is my favorite – who, even if not properly developed, serve as protagonists of terrific action scenes.

And boy, does Singer knows what he does. Without launching a true success since his last contribution to the franchise, the director masterfully commands sequences that envolve multiple mutants, distributing specific tasks and making them combine their powers on the fight against the Sentinels. Of course, due of notice is the spectacular scene envolving speedster mutant Quicksilver (the charismatic Evan Peters) on a prison break, which – anchored by a brilliant use of Jim Proce’s “Time in a Bottle”, can already be classified as one of the most impressive and well maid sequences the superhero genre has ever provided. I also enjoyed the director’s decision to use several  cameras inside the story for crowd scenes, offering a genuine feel of the time period (since we’re talking about Super 8 cameras).

XMENDOFP
J-Law fans: Mystique has a lot more to do here

But even if it’s spectacle-driven and doesn’t have time to waste, the movie never forgets from the one thing that made X-Men movies different: social themes. Here, it gets stronger for making Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique a fundamental element for the unfolding of both temporal lines, which makes sense considering the character’s position in the end of First Class. It’s also very ironic that the man responsible for the creation of the movie’s biggest physical threat, be someone with the looks of Peter Dinklage. Still on the visual power field, the movie has brings some highly symbolic images, such as the growing pile of mutant bodies (in a clear reference to the Holocaust) or the hauting moment where the White House is surrounded by a baseball stadium; one that screams the relations between sports and politics, one that curiously presents itself more powerful for brazillians on this year of World Cup.

Considering the size of the bet, X-Men: Days of Future Past is a movie that could’ve dangerously gone wrong. Fortunately, that was on a dark alternative reality, since Bryan Singer’s return to the franchise is efficient, fun and, even if not the best one, it’s certainly the biggest. And it’s great to see how its conclusion offers thrilling new ways to such an admirable franchise.

Obs: There is a post-credits scene that’ll drive X-Men fans CRAZY.

Obs II: We have cameos and a mutant revelation no one would’ve EVER imagined. Stay tuned.

Obs III: I’d keep the 3D off.

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