The future and past collide in 'X-Men: Days of Future Past,' director Bryan Singer's third and the overall fifth installment (excepting the two 'Wolverine' spin-offs) of the popular 'X-Men' movie franchise he started back in 2000. Based on Chris Claremont's storyline from 'The Uncanny X-Men' issues #141 and #142, which are among my prized comic book collection from the 1980's, DOFP is a variation on the science fiction trope of time-travel back to the past in order to alter the future and, along with the 'Dark Phoenix' saga, are two of the best X-Men stories of all time.
As we well know, a recurring theme of the X-Men is the fear and mistrust mankind reserved for mutants with powers. Echoing the politics of discrimination throughout history, mutants are regarded by humans as a sub-species to be shunned and abhorred. Out of this oppression arises the dichotomy between the philosophical approaches of Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr, wherein one preaches peaceful coexistence and understanding while the other advocates extermination and violence. Mutants who become the disciples of Professor X are the X-Men and those who follow Magneto join the militant Brotherhood of Mutants.
DOFP is the best of the X-Men movies so far in terms of storytelling. Richly layered, complex and intelligent, the movie manages to engage and entertain us throughout. Under Singer's capable direction, DOFP deftly switches gears between the dark dystopian future of 2023 when mutants and humans are ruthlessly hunted down to extinction by Sentinel robots and the groovy 70's of the Richard Nixon era as the Vietnam War draws to a close. While we see many a familiar X-Men from earlier installments in DOFP, including both younger and older versions of Professor X and Magneto, the movie pays particular attention to the personal trials of Mystique, the blue-skinned shape-shifter played by Jennifer Lawrence whose role is pivotal to the story. Compared to other recent Marvel movies, DOFP is also a welcome exercise in restraint and strikes the perfect balance between action and storytelling, possesses heart and humanity to spare, and doesn't stumble into the pitfall of being an extended commercial for the next installment, which is more than I can say for the previous Marvel movie I reviewed.