This review comes directly from the preview of X-men in Brazil and it is going to be divided in two parts, being the first a brief recap of the X-men franchise and an overall analysis of the film itself and the second part a commentary on the comic book adaptation aspect. It's Spoiler Free!
When Bryan Singer directed the first X-Men film in the year 2000, he probably wasn’t expecting to start the most powerful blockbuster trend of the XXI century, the Super-Hero/Comic Book adaptation film. Not a masterpiece in any way, the film was still a success, and marked one of the most remarkable relationships between actor/character of all time, I’m talking about Hugh Jackman and Wolverine of course. After that, the new franchise suffered ups and downs (mostly downs), and when no one believed in it anymore, X-Men First Class came up and raised the mutants from the ashes, which makes a lot of sense since the Phoenix died in The Last Stand.
X-Men: Days Of Future Past , the seventh film in the franchise, marks the return of its own creator Bryan Singer as the director after four films away, which was according to some people an achievement. He assumed the film with an enormous responsibility, to save the X-men franchise once and for all by correcting all the mistakes from the previous films, by connecting both existing timelines, (The Past from ‘First Class’ and The Present from all the others), in order to create a brand new timeline, keeping only the pros of past and present. Even though "Days..." also had its ups and downs, undoubtedly, he accomplished his objective, creating a film that goes back-and-forth in time without being confusing or overly-complex; the only thing demanded is that you watch X-Men First Class before, otherwise, none of the alliances and bonds presented in the past will make sense - if you don’t know the relationship between Charles (Prof. X), Erik (Magneto) and Raven (Mystique), you’ll definitely get lost watching this.
As the film is set part in the 2020s and part in the 1970s, I’ll refer to them as Future and Past to make things easier. On the Future, some of the classic characters are back - Professor Xavier, Magneto, Storm, Iceman, Kitty Pryde, Colossus and of course, Wolverine – and new ones are “introduced”, even though most people won’t remember their names after the film – Sunspot, Bishop, Blink and Warpath – not that they are bad characters, quite the contrary, they all have very nice roles, but only in the action parts. In the Past, the main characters of "First Class" are also back - Xavier, Magneto, Mystique, Beast and a brief look at Alex Summers – also, new ones have a very small screen time and probably no one will remember they were even there, despite of one very special case – Quicksilver, also known as Peter Maximoff.
One thing is undeniable about this new film: it’s completely character driven. Give to a great cast, excellent characters, and the result won’t be anything other than absolute success. In the Future, the imminence of danger never gives much space to long conversations, but we already know a lot about those characters, so it’s easy to follow up their decisions, however, in the Past, everything turns around the relation between Charles, Erik and Raven, occasionally intervened by Wolverine and Beast, and the film is sustained by those dynamics. Although the “human” element of those characters is outstanding, their individualities, or better saying, the power of each mutant is also a remarkable feat. To the fantastic cast of First Class, a new addition was made that pleased a lot of viewers, one of the most talked actors of the moment: Peter Dinklage, as Bolivar Trask, the simply brilliant Number One Enemy of the Mutant Race, as Mystique would say.
Well, no one ever doubted that the X-Men franchise had great characters, however, there’s a new one that in his short time on screen, completely steal the film; Evan Peter’s Quicksilver is simply amazing. The mutant whose superpower is Super Speed is incredibly fun and instantly won the hearts of the whole audience in my preview screening (and pretty much every other screening) with his charisma and cleverness. The portray of his power was by the far the best use of special effects in the film, in fact, it was one of the best depicts of a superpower in all the Super Heroes trend. Sadly, he doesn’t have half the time on screen he deserved.
Besides of the outstanding super speed power of Quicksilver, the SFXs in the rest of the movie are average at most compared to the other blockbusters of today, nothing impressive at all. The visual design of the mutants and the Sentinels is very good though, Mystique make-up is a work of art and Beast looks a lot like The Wolfman. The dynamism in the fight sequences with the mutants is marvelous, there’s a perfect synchrony between their powers that in the very few action sequences, succeeds to impress.
As I’ve said, the film is character-driven, so the best part of it is by far the interaction between those characters. The pace flows perfectly and everything happens in due time, with the transition between different timelines being quite smooth; nonetheless, despite of a few outstanding moments, the film as a whole doesn’t feel as epic as it could have been. Truth being told, Bryan Singer isn’t an exceptional director, he’s good enough to make things work but he is also too simplistic, he lacks the necessary boldness to make something bigger, which is a crucial thing in this particular moment of time where Super-Hero flicks are flooding the theaters, year after year. It’s important to stress that he did a good job, especially with everything this film represents for the franchise, but it feels as if he did only the essential here.
As a longtime fan of the X-Men franchise in cinema and other medium, my final opinion on the film is that Days of a Future Past is good when it could have been great; happily for me and any other fans out there, it marks a new age for the X-Men on cinema, and the post-credit scene made sure of it. I won’t spoil it, of course, but if you have the slightest knowledge of the X-Men Universe you’ll agree with me that it was The Best Post-Credit sequence of all time.
Regarding the Comic books…
In the last decade, the mutants suffered a lot in the Marvel Universe, from sagas such as House of M to the latest Avengers Vs. X-Men, so many things changed that if the films didn’t tried to change as well, they would be completely out-dated. The first thing I’d like to say here is that, contrary to the many theories out there, absolutely nothing about this new film indicates a possible connection with the Marvel Cinematic Universe from Marvel Studios, in fact, it goes even further away; Quicksilver is a teenager in the 70s when he’s also a teenager in the 2010s of The Avengers. That’s only an example, but there’s absolutely no trace of a connection there.
About the X-men, the mutants chosen to be there had great visual designs, making up for their comic book versions, and although there was an improvement in their costumes, Wolverine still doesn’t wear the yellow and blue fantasy. Quicksilver is very impressive as I’ve said previously, but the Past version of Magneto was surreal, his feats as a master of magnetism are jaw-dropping. Although Colossus and Iceman looked weaker than I expected them to be at that point, the other ones are very good, much more interesting than the usual second class mutant from the other films, especially Bishop and his energy channeling gun. There's also a young William Striker here in the film, haunting Wolverine's life.
The story that served as base for the film is one of the most popular from the comic books, one "small" difference though: In the original story, Kitty Pride is the one that goes back in time, not Wolverine, and despite of reading some complaints about that, it is perfectly justifiable, since it was a role of major importance in the film which needed a major character/actor. Wolverine was the perfect choice and at no point this feels like a Wolverine movie, so if you were worried, don’t be. It’s hard to delve into the possibilities of the franchise for now on without spoiling the end of Days of a Future Past, but it’s enough to say that this movie worked as a reboot, a remake, a sequel and a prequel, so all timelines are possible to be explored with excellent prospects.
The Post-Credit Scene was the most spectacular one since this became a trend years ago, and everyone in the preview applauded and cheered of excitement. If the film was a little disappointing for me, I think that scene made up for the whole franchise so far.