Shalom Life | July 01, 2014

FILM REVIEW: ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ is the Perfect Superhero Film

Bryan Singer has managed to do the impossible- combine incredible special effects and action sequences with complex and poignant character development and storytelling.

By: Jake Horowitz

Published: May 26th, 2014 in Culture » Film » Reviews

FILM REVIEW: 'X-Men: Days of Future Past' is the Perfect Superhero Film

In 2011 the 11-year-old X-Men franchise successfully rebooted itself with the prequel, X-Men: First Class. Taking on a revisionist look at 1960s history, the film introduced a new cast to portray the classic mutants and set the action amongst a unique James Bond-esque backdrop. The film had style, it had substance, and it reinvented X-Men as a comic book movie franchise with the potential to beat out all others.

But as the inevitable sequel, this weekend’s X-Men: Days of Future Past drew near, things started to get complicated. First, the film lost it’s director when the visionary behind First Class, Matthew Vaughn, dropped out. But then previous franchise helmer Bryan Singer signed on. And then one after another, cast members of the original X-Men trilogy started signing on, until Days of Future Past boasted a mammoth cast with stars from both the old franchise and the new on board. And it all culminated in a film that blends X-Men timelines and features Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine traveling back in time to the 1970s to prevent the extermination of the mutant race.

Let’s be clear; Days of Future Past isn’t easy to digest. It’s got time travel, mutant-destroying robots called Sentinals, and various timelines that weave together older and younger versions of the X-Men into a single two hour and ten minute film. Because of all this, X-Men: Days of Future Past is the most ambitious superhero movie ever made. It attempts to balance insane action with incredibly intricate storytelling. It tries to portray mutants as complex characters dealing with morality and regret. It tries to juggle ridiculous superpowers with historical events and real-world atrocities. And there’s absolutely no reason any of it should work. But it does.

This being Singer’s franchise, as he directed the first two X-Men films, he understands exactly what fans want. He provides fans of the original franchise and the new one with enough character moments to fill three separate films, but he also crams in the best of each of these franchises without a single break in the action. There’s First Class’ bright and stylistic use of revisionist history to set a very specific tone, as well as X-Men 1 and 2’s darker and more emotionally driven subtext. And it all flows perfectly, without a single wasted frame or moment that feels unearned.

Amongst everything that Singer has done right here in a sea of what should have been all wrong is the action. While there’s never been a lack of “cool” in modern-day superhero films, somehow, amazingly, Singer upped the bar and provided action sequences that will undoubtedly challenge everything that comes after this. Because there’s never been a superhero movie that’s so accurately depicted what it would be like to be a superhero. Never have fights been so well choreographed, never have effects been so properly put to use, and never has a movie been better than the comic book its based on in terms of showcasing awe-inspiring super powered goodness. Until now.

Though no one can argue that there’s a gluttony of superhero movies coming out right now, thankfully Bryan Singer – the originator of the modern day superhero film – has liberated us from his own creation. He’s taken what makes the best superhero films great – lightheartedness and fun – and infused it with actual weight and emotion. There’s lessons to be learned from X-Men: Days of Future Past. There’s characters to be inspired by. There’s action to be dazzled by.

And it’s all wrapped up in a package that puts any other superhero film – yes, even The Avengers – to shame. Because this is everything a superhero movie should be.

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