In 2000, little-known director Bryan Singer opened the doors to the cinematic world of comic book movies with “X-Men,” showing the world the age of comic book adaptation had arrived.
The X-Men comics and films have always stood apart from all others because of its themes of working as a team, the importance of individuality, but above all else its diverse characters that appeal to a wide variety of viewers, cast to actors who have the talent to flesh them out on screen.
Singer stepped away from X-Men after the enormous success of “X2,” which in 2003 raised the bar for superhero films. After multiple failed projects, Singer returns where he should have stayed, orchestrating the complex world of mutants.
In a Nolan-esque type script, Singer like a maestro conducting a symphony of hundreds, miraculously connects every detail from all the past films and extraordinarily raises that bar once again.
Half a century from when we last saw Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) paralyzed on the shores of Cuba, watching Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) join forces with Magneto (Michael Fassbender), the future has turned into exactly what they always feared.
An elder Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellen) have one final hope, to send Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back in time to the 1970s and stop Mystique from murdering the creator of the sentinel program that will eventually wipe out mutants and the humans who try to protect them.
When Wolverine arrives back in time, Charles isn’t the person he has grown to respect and the general public are about to see mutants for the very first time.
Usually the script is the weakest link in comic book film adaptations, but “Days of Future Past” is so complex that the script had to be the origin of everything.
Its intricacies are astounding, as if Singer and his writing squad pored over every detail of the previous films; even small moments like Wolverine’s cameo in “First Class” are used to make a point here.
Flashbacks from the three original films, not to mention converging storylines, seek to explain how we got from there to here. It’s the most brilliantly concealed reboot of our time.
Singer makes it seem as if everything from the past films — even the highly criticized plot twists in “X-Men The Last Stand” — were all planned leading up to this film and this emotional payoff — it’s a thing of beauty.
There have been a lot of comparisons to “X2,” and I think that is truly justified as Singer reorients X-Men with new life and energy.
The emotional stakes have never been as high or played so well. Singer returns the film to its origins, literally and metaphorically.
McAvoy and Lawrence repeat their powerful performances from “First Class,” while Evan Peters’ Quicksilver gets a fantastic slow motion bullet saving scene you won’t soon forget.
However, like the X-Men series has proved before, it’s not afraid to kill any of its characters or travel to very dark emotional places. Yet it’s the ending where the genius of the film truly lies and where everything makes sense.
Final thought: Undeniably one of the smartest films of the year, the series that opened the door to the cinematic world of the comic book film has raised the bar to an extraordinarily high level.
‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’
Starring: Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen
Dustin Chase is a film critic and associate editor with Texas Art & Film, which is based in Galveston. More reviews are available at texasartfilm.com.