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X-Men: Days of Future Past

Posted on the 19 May 2016 by Christopher Saunders
X-Men: Days of Future PastBryan Singer returns to helm X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014), a disappointing follow-up to First Class (2011). Having averted the Cuban Missile Crisis, any further historical mutant adventures would seem anticlimactic. Here they rescue Richard Nixon and a mutant-hating dwarf - not quite as momentous.
Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) assassinates scientist Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) at the Paris Peace Accords in 1973, triggering an all-out war between humanity and mutantkind. Modern-day mutants Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and Magento (Ian McKellen) send Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back through time to avert the apocalypse. He finds X (James McAvoy) losing his mutant powers and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) imprisoned for killing John F. Kennedy. Wolverine accomplishes his mission, only to find X and Magneto immutably at odds.
Days of Future Past starts with fifteen minutes of generic future dystopia, complete with tedious mutant-versus-robot battles. Singer's lectures on the future's immutability smack too much of The Terminator. Nor does the much-ballyhooed casting of 2000s X-Men amount to much. Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry and Ellen Paige mostly serve as high-paid robot fodder; only Stewart interacts with his past self.
The '70s timeline isn't so boring. Singer provides several excellent action scenes. Quicksilver's (Evan Peters) show-stopping appearance, bending time to escape Pentagon bullets, is alone worth the rental price. There are fleeting moments of creepy power: Mystique examining pictures of vivisected mutants, psychic Xavier talking to her through bystanders. Then Magneto drops RFK Stadium on the White House and we crash back to banality.
This time, story and characters fall flat. Xavier and Magneto's conflict feels rehashed, while Mystique becomes a violent plot device. Unlike First Class, the setting is mere window dressing: Wolverine catches his claws in a waterbed while Trask hobnobs with Tricky Dick (Mark Camacho, slightly better than Robert Wisden in Watchmen). It culminates in another robot attack that's overblown, bloodless and conveniently concluded.
Hugh Jackman returns to the frontline, dispensing quips, smoking cigars and maiming malefactors like it's 2000. He's aged better than any action star since Kirk Douglas. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender are varying shades of mopey, while Jennifer Lawrence reduces Mystique to monotone anguish. Peter Dinklage's smooth villain is a welcome addition, but Evan Peters' reluctant do-gooder steals the movie.
After First Class's surprising skill, X-Men: Days of Future Past is bloated and overstuffed. Somehow, it manages to be both bigger and less consequential than its predecessor.

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