X-Men: Days of Future Past
Bryan Singer’s return to the X-Men franchise opens on a familiar movie dystopia: grey skies are patrolled by murderous shape-shifting robots (called sentinels) and the streets are paved with corpses. Someone needs to be sent back in time before James Cameron gets litigious.
Step forward Wolverine (Jackman), the clawed mutant who heals in seconds and doesn’t age (a bit like the evergreen actor who plays him), whose consciousness is flung back to 1973 by the original X-Men crew (Stewart, McKellen, Page) to band together the warring new blood cast from prequel X-Men: First Class (Lawrence, Fassbender, McAvoy) and prevent the apocalypse from ever happening.
In Ray Bradbury’s classic time-travel story A Sound of Thunder, all it took was a squished moth to send a shockwave through time. A whole lot more collateral damage is required here to change the X-Men’s future predicament, including a virtuoso prison break from the Pentagon courtesy of live-wire speedster Quicksilver and a siege on President Nixon’s White House involving militant mutant Magneto (Fassbender), the Master of Magnetism, and a floating baseball stadium, while back in the present (or is it future?) there’s a heroic last stand defence of a mountain safe house. Like Singer’s previous X-Men efforts, the action has a fluid beauty and is lucidly staged.
Less clear are the character motivations and plotting: why exactly is Mystique (Lawrence) still trying to murder an evil scientist (Dinklage) if it’s going to bring about world annihilation? And which side are you on again Magneto? A bigger niggle is that Singer fails, like First Class’s director Matthew Vaughn, to get a single compelling performance from any of the females in the cast. Considering that cast includes – as well as the usually spunky Lawrence – Ellen Page and Halle Berry, he must have some kind of charism-sapping mutant power.