Whichever way you cut it, there’s a lot going on in X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST. But don’t worry – regardless of how invested you are in Marvel’s ‘X-verse’ you’re pretty much bound to have a good time as long as blockbusters involving people with mutant super powers, time travel and a lot of polyester & tan leather is your idea of a fun couple of hours.
First, the narrative. In 2023, the world is war-ravaged and mutants are hunted by Sentinels – robots with the ability to understand and absorb a mutant’s powers, then fight back and kill the mutant in the most effective way. Only a few mutants remain, but they fortunately include Wolverine, Professor X, a reformed Magneto and Kitty Pryde.
This war is the result of a single action. In 1973, Mystique (blue Jennifer Lawrence) killed Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage), inventor of the Sentinels. His assassination convinced the Nixon administration that Trask was right in wanting to wipe out mutants before they could potentially make homo sapiens extinct.
Back in 2023, the mutants’ last hope has Kitty Pryde transporting Wolverine’s mind back into his 1973 body to rally the troops and prevent Mystique from firing that doomed bullet. But of course it’s not going to be easy – at that time, the confused blue nudie shapeshifter didn’t trust either the painkiller-addicted young Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) or the misanthropic young Magneto (Michael Fassbender), so it will require a united front to convince her.
There are plenty of other complications and surprises, plus a fair amount of flashing back and forth across that fifty year time gap. In fact there’s so much going on that director Bryan Singer is probably hoping most people won’t notice that the entire time travel conceit is total bollocks (another film for the big Hollywood metaphysics scrapheap). What enables him to get around it is a near-perfect camp/gravitas tonal balance - once that is quickly established, I imagine most of his audience simply won’t care.
This also goes a long way to covering up the sheer amount of stoic exposition required, but with that great cast in that fun setting and the sheer barrage of elements to keep track of, Singer can get most things by his viewers with skilled sleight of hand. As the logic holes pile up in one sleeve, the other deals a string of set pieces – some impressive, some exemplary, thanks to some new mutants - from crazy dimension-tearing action in the future to a playfully approached prison break in the past.
And yes there’s a post-credits sting – right at the end. You might not have a clue what it means yet, but stick around: it’s always worth it to watch some hardcore geeks get excited.
X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST is released May 22 in Australia, New Zealand and the UK, and May 23 in the US.