Movie review: ‘Days of Future Past’ ranks among the best entries in ‘X-Men’ franchise

xmen_wordpressAs I walked out of the movie theater last weekend, I couldn’t help but be haunted by a slight sense of lingering disappointment. “Godzilla” — one of my most anticipated movies of the summer — was a lot of fun, with plenty of monster mayhem, but it didn’t quite live up to the high hopes I had for it. However, my box office blues didn’t last long, thanks to the arrival of this week’s “X-Men: Days of Future Past.” Not only is it one of the best films in the X-Men franchise, it will probably make a strong case for my favorite movie of the summer.

“X-Men: Days of Future Past” opens with a bleak version of the future, landing viewers in the middle of a post-apocalyptic battle that threatens to doom Earth’s remaining mutants. Faced with the extinction of their kind, long-time friends/enemies Magneto and Professor X decide to make a dangerous gamble: sending Wolverine back into the past to try to change the mutants’ grim future. Wolverine must convince the younger versions of Magneto and Professor X to work together to stop blue-skinned mutant Mystique from assassinating an important scientist — a man whose death accelerates the mutant apocalypse.

“Days of Future Past” is a complex film, and with so many characters and time-jumping subplots, the film could have easily become too convoluted. And while there are a lot of details to keep track of, director Bryan Singer (returning to the franchise after “X2: X-Men United”) guides the cast smoothly through the film, giving the plot emotional weight without losing a sense of comic book superhero fun.

It was fun to watch the casts of the original X-Men trilogy and the prequel come together. Although Matthew Vaughn’s 2011 X-Men prequel “First Class” is my favorite film in the X-Men franchise, it earned a respectable but not dramatic $55 million its opening weekend. Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy gave strong, authentic performances as the younger versions of Magneto and Professor X, and I wish the film had earned more than it did. Initially I was a bit disappointed that “Days of Future Past” wasn’t a straight-up sequel to “First Class,” but I shouldn’t have been worried. “Days of Future Past” wisely keeps much of the focus on what are arguably the franchise’s three strongest characters: Magneto, Professor X and Wolverine. It was great to see the younger and older versions of Magneto and Professor X in the same film, bringing the return of actors Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart.

I won’t give away anymore of the plot, because a lot of the fun of watching the movie is wondering what is coming and how Wolverine’s attempt to manipulate past events alters the future timeline. The movie is book-ended by two cool action sequences involving eerily shape-shifting, mutant-fighting robots known as Sentinels, and it’s also impressive to watch Magneto levitate a massive sports stadium and drop it on the White House lawn. However, my favorite scene was probably the Pentagon prison break, featuring the lightning-fast mutant Quicksilver. It’s a trippy, clever sequence laced with fun humor, and it actually earned a round of applause and cheers from the audience during the showing I attended.

As with any film, there are places you could be picky. Jennifer Lawrence has a powerful screen presence but I do wish the script writers had given her a little more to do as Mystique in this film. However, overall the film is just what a summer blockbuster should be: fun, exciting and carrying just enough emotional resonance to make it more than just a spectacle.

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14 thoughts on “Movie review: ‘Days of Future Past’ ranks among the best entries in ‘X-Men’ franchise

  1. Pingback: X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) Review | Tim's Film Reviews

  2. Good review. I liked the film, I mean I have some problems from a total comic nerd point of view but yeah its good.

    The visuals and 70’s timeline worked really well and the acting was really good. Quicksilver steals the show.

    This wasnt greatness but Apocalypse might 😀

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