“X-Men: The Dark Days of the Future Can Be Prevented by Re-taking the Actions of the Past. X-Men: The Days of the Future Can Be Prevented by the Past. X-Men: Days of Future Can Be…” It’s fair to say that the naming of the latest film in the X-men franchise was probably Marvel’s least troubling worries, their priority instead being: “how on earth can we imaginatively extend a franchise that we’ve more or less run into the ground?” The title itself really does put the ‘moronic’ into ‘oxymoronic’--Future Past? Seriously?!—and from the opening clichéd pan of our apparently impending dystopian future, the whole thing seems a little bit silly. But you’ll often find that ‘silly’ sells in today’s industry.
For the *seventh* instalment in the franchise, Bryan Singer, the man behind the comic’s first large cinematic outing in 2000, returned to his lovechild as director--perhaps in a bid to make a comeback after X-Men: Wolverine’s critical flop. And, despite my personal grievances with superhero films and their cash-cow nature, Singer was probably what this drooping string of prequels to sequels/sequels to prequels needed. He handles the characters comfortably and confidently with the kind of geek-like flair that assumes the audience knows the characters as well as he does, a trait that is especially noticeable in his extraordinarily brief characterisation of Bishop, Blink, Warpath and Sunspot.
It is therefore a surprise that a large majority of the first and second act of the film feels heavy with exposition. Granted, it is a complex storyline that is considerably well-handled if one overlooks the numerous plot loopholes, but it seems that even the characters are wearied by the whole over-complexity of the situation. Yet Singer still manages to resuscitate this sometimes faltering dialogue with his ability to conduct the action, happily zipping from one time period to another with an enviable directness. It is also Singer’s clear directing that allows the film to have its fun moments too. The scene in the White House with Quicksilver is the kind of scene that would make the most boring, pretentious, “I-only-watch-1950s-French-Independent-films” cinephile mutter “awesome” under their breath. Singer’s direction acts as a welcome distraction from the weak dialogue and historical inaccuracies too (which, after having just finished my exam on the Vietnam War, would otherwise be extremely hard to ignore), whilst permitting the film to also be self-indulgent in over-exaggerating its fight scenes and those mandatory ‘emotional’ scenes.
Singer’s probably helped out by those people that are in it too. You know, that Hugh Jigman (Jagman? Oh, Jackman) guy who plays the thing with the claws, and that bald one and that other one who has permanent hat hair because he’s always wearing a metal helmet… Oh, and Mr Tumnus and Katniss. In spite of the script’s moments of awkwardness, the all-star cast remain a strong unit, passing off the film’s shortcomings with their confidence in their characters and the faith they have in each other. The actors’ natural friendships manage to beam through their characters (McKellen’s and Stewart’s lil’ bromance n’aww), leaving the audience with the impression that the cast just had a lot of fun with this film too.
With all being said, yes, it often falls into the silly category. Perhaps it’s a bit OTT here and there, and it does perform a Mystique every now and then by trying to mask itself as a more intelligent thriller than it actually is. But, if you are willing to overlook the cliché and inaccuracies, it is simply manufactured fun for the masses—and never once have I seen a film captivate and command a full cinema screening like this one did. It may be just another superhero film, but it also represents escapism in its purest form… and that’s what commercial cinema is supposed to represent, isn’t it?