You know how directors who’ve lost their mojo sometimes revisit old projects, as though a trip back to their old stomping grounds will help them do good work again? The most infamous example has to be Ridley Scott and Prometheus.
After Gladiator, Scott’s career careened downward like that beautiful Corvette at the beginning of the Star Trek reboot. What was once glorious would soon be just a pile of junk, sad and hopefully soon forgotten.
So what did he do? He tried to reverse things by going back to his first huge hit, Alien. When he announced Prometheus, everyone thought “Oh my gosh, could this be the return of Ridley Scott??? Will this be his comeback???” Of course we know how that went.
Later, when he followed up that gem with the by-all-accounts-deplorable The Counselor, his career seemed over. He had reached M. Night Shyamalan level bad, each movie worse than the previous.
I bring up this because before X-Men: Days of Future Past, director Bryan Singer’s career was enduring a Scott-esque arc. After making the all-time classic The Usual Suspects in 1995, he captured further success with the first two X-Men movies in 2000 and 2003.
Then, he made a weird choice – he left the X-Men franchise to helm DC Comics’ Supereboot Superman Regurgitates Returns. We all know how that went.
He followed that up with Valkyrie in 2008 (a movie liked by critics but not audiences) and then disappeared for four years. When he reemerged with Jack the Giant Slayer in 2013, it seemed the guy who rocked the world eighteen years earlier with The Usual Suspects was gone forever. His career was just about with that Corvette at the bottom of a canyon.
So what did he do? Predictably, he went all Ridley Scott/Prometheus on us and signed on for X-Men: Days of Future Past. And why wouldn’t he? Going back to past projects never fails! 😉
Then something amazing happened. Singer released XMDOFP, and critics started giving it good reviews. Then audiences started giving it good reviews! Then I watched it and I realized I should give it a good review!! Then…. Well that’s where we are today.
As shocking and unexpected as this is, I find Singer’s most recent effort to have less in common with James T. Kirk’s stepdad’s car and more in common with the last thing on screen in Singer’s last X-Men movie: the Phoenix.
Guys, X-Men: Days of Future Past is Singer’s rebirth. Just, I mean……it is awesome. Here, I’ll make it official:
See? Even the Legos agree. In short, Days of Future Past has an excellent story, great acting, nice sets, good cinematography, time travel, and commendable CGI. I give it 8/10. It is the best superhero movie I’ve watched since Ironman 1.
In closing, I have to say that, in my opinion, calling XMDOFP “surprising” is an understatement. Every example I can think of in which a director goes back to a hit project has failed miserably. Prometheus, Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls, the Star Wars pre-quels – there’s probably more, and never has the director been able to make something worthy of its predecessors.
Thus, I salute Bryan Singer, for he has done a thing of myth. He will not join Scott at the bottom of the canyon; rather, he has made a tremendous film, and like that bird of the sun, he has risen out of the ashes of his career to reach a height I never would’ve expected. Well done.
Grant Stevens did not expect Days of Future Past to be good, so he realizes his review might’ve been a little breathless and over-the-top. But, he plans to ride that hyperbolic horse all the way to multiple Pulitzers. When not writing, Grant plays music, loves basketball, dominates Mario Kart, and studies apologetics.