X-Men Days of Future Past’s structure will be incredibly familiar to any comics fan. Crisscrossing around time and space, dabbling in competing continuities. These are things that anyone who’s picked up a comic in the last fifty years finds familiar, comforting, warm. The team behind the latest X-Men movie finds them warm too – they bask in the nerdy glow of seeing the apocalyptic Sentinel future play out against a backdrop of 70s nostalgia glow.
X-Men: Days of Future Past is an incredibly clever movie, making the most of its time travel conceit, its doubled-up cast, and its place in a larger Marvel continuity. Back in the capable hands of Bryan Singer, the movie seems equally at home playing across the desolate landscapes of the future as it does coaxing along with affable ease in the 70s. The decision to bring Wolverine into the mix as a major player seemed like rampant fan service to me when it was first announced, but it actually plays really well to heighten the pathos and really sell the intersecting nature of the plot.
Despite how VERY well done this movie was, however, I was left sort of underwhelmed. One of the big joys of X-Men: First Class was getting to see the new cast of characters interact and bounce off one another, and some of that is lost in this multi-generational, time period skipping script. Plus there was not NEARLY enough Michael Fassbender.
That last point may seem like a pithy one, born of fan girl joy more than actual artistic desire, and there’s some validity to that criticism. But Fassbender is also astounding in the role of Magneto, as is McAvoy, and the movie suffers somewhat from their having to split brain space with Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan (who are both also astounding). Jennifer Lawrence phones it in, but it’s hard to say how else she could have played Mystique.
It’s a visual triumph (although it gained nothing by seeing it in the 3D), well plotted, and well written, but it wasn’t astounding. Watching it was almost the polar opposite of my recent joy at seeing The Amazing Spiderman 2, which was a movie riddled with flaws that nonetheless thrilled me. Days of Future Past is nearly flawless, and yet left me a little bored.