I would be lying if I say that X-Men: Days of Future Past met my expectations head-on. It met them on different timelines of the same dimension with varying results. I will keep this as spoiler-free as possible mind you, because even though the Sentinel storyline is very well-known to X-Men fans there are subtleties within the narrative that were a real treat.
There was no doubt in my mind when I sat down to watch DOPT that symbolism would be the main dish served. The struggle of many against the controlling few is prevalent throughout the film in both timelines involved (this much is obvious from the trailers, don't spoiler-flame me!). The back-and-forward between timelines was also a slight worry. How would Singer deal with that? Would the time-travel loop-hole squad have a field day (yeah...they always do, no matter what)?
Let's take it from the top though. The cast is stellar and their chemistry practically drives the film from beginning to end with no exceptions. The new mutants presented don't really have much to do (Blink was a brilliant addition however, and if you love the Portal games you will appreciate her greatly) and the early action sequences lack tenacity and volume (more on that "lack" later). Blink and Quicksilver aside, the rest of the new mutants are an afterthought in the script (including Storm!).
The viewers are quickly treated with the plan early on with what needs to be done before throwing Wolverine on a path of fan-service, humour and wittiness amidst brilliant performances all around. This was Jackman's finest delivery of Logan in which he found himself being the one who needs to exact control instead of Professor X, reversing their roles from the very first film.
Re-assembling the X-Men included a sequence that far surpasses the assassination attempt from X2 in which Nightcrawler dazzled his way past the White House guards on his way to meet the President. If you are a fan of high frame-rate slow-mo then prepare for insanity with a sequence filmed at (allegedly) 3600 fps, courtesy of Quicksilver. Undoubtedly the highlight of the film, as far as action sequences go.
But Singer's X-Men films were never about big, bombastic action setpieces a la Avengers. He prefers to tell a story within the world he presents to us, that we could compare and reflect on with ours. And this he does very well with DOFP. As I mentioned in a previous article regarding the film, Singer's message was very clear from day one. As an openly gay man he used the Mutants of the X-Men universe as a reflection to the LGBT community of our world to great effect! In DOFP however, he broadens the reflection within.
The theme that prevails throughout the narrative is not that of "acceptance" but that of "hope". Hope for humanity, hope for a better future in which, yes, acceptance is a part of! I took DOFP as a slight dig towards the 'one-percenters' of this planet. You know the ones...
Machines are given a pass here without being totally blamed for our downfall. That belongs entirely to us! Using the DOFP paradigm, two of me watched the film at their respective times but simultaneously. The younger me and the current me.
The younger me wanted more action sequences, more abuse of mutant power, more mayhem. With the exception of the Quicksilver sequence the rest of the setpieces were slightly weak and lacking true "meat" and impact. The younger me still craves to see Omega Red on film but I guess he has to shut up and simply be happy that at least Gambit is in the next film and the villain will be...well, simply the best X-Men villain ever. Hint: The film is called X-men: Apocalypse. 'Nuff, said. (Set for a 2016 release).
Which forces me to ask a question of my older self. Who was the villain in DOFP? Nope, I won't answer it here, let the viewer decide that for him/herself.
Now, at the same time my older self watched a beautiful story unfold involving heroes he grew up with facing extinction and dealing with it in a very eloquently and well-planned delivery by the artists involved. I smiled with glee at the 8mm footage from the past sequences. I enjoyed the historical touches involved in the story which blended in magnificently with the quest that our heroes undertook. I could watch McAvoy, Fassbender, McKellen, Stewart, Jackman and Lawrence tear up the screen for hours without even shifting in my seat. Such was the gravity of the assembled cast of DOFP.
Whenever I find myself involved in a religious discussion (rarely these days, thankfully) I always say that I am a person of faith. My faith, however, is in humanity. Us. All of us. X-Men: Days of Future Past carries that very same message, a message of hope that humanity cannot and should not bring itself to its knees nor should it allow that 1% to dictate, control and oppress the 99%.
When all is said and done DOFP places the "humans vs mutants" struggle on the sidelines for now, much to my pleasure. A fact which opens up the path to a greater and far more grim battle against immortal evil. Boy, do I have hope and faith for that!
ps. In case you don't already know, after you finish watching DOFP stick around and let the credits roll all the way to their demise for a 'revelation'. Which is a small word-play if you translate that word to Greek ;)
- Frixos Masouras 2014
All rights to the X-Men go to Marvel Entertainment and all films regarding the X-Men belong to 20th Century Fox.