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Review: Bryan Singer returns to helm another Marvel classic with 'X-Men'

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Now Marvel Studios owns the two best superhero movies ever made.

It’s close, especially given the fact that Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy belongs in the conversation. However, X-Men: Days of Future Past is every bit the equal of its comic book relatives The Avengers, which until now has been viewed as numero uno. It opens for sneak previews Thursday (May 22).

In fact, for who enjoy their take on the genre a bit more cerebral, X-Men, in fact, may be more enjoyable. What could have proven to be an unmitigated disaster becomes an instant classic courtesy of the efforts of director Bryan Singer.

Why? Because X-Men features major characters from both incarnations of the film series – the original which Singer introduced fans to more than 15 years ago and X-Men: The First Class which took the characters back to its origins with James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender assuming the roles of Charles Xavier and Magneto in the place of Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan.

That Singer and the studio were able to assemble both casts – which include Storm (Halle Berry), Kitty Pride (Ellen Page), Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and Bobby Drake (Shawn Ashmore) – and turn Chris Claremont’s classic graphic novel into a piece of entertainment that keeps its social conscience all while taking the audience on one helluva a ride, represents an amazing feat. That – given its time travel concept – it does so coherently proves even more so.

The X-Men face their greatest challenge yet as the world took a dire turn when one of Xavier and Magneto’s protégés decides to enact justice on her own. In 1974, Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) assassinates Dr. Bolivar Trask (the always awesome Peter Dinklage) after he uses some of her colleagues in experiments to help him develop The Sentinels – robots that can detect and destroy those with the mutant X-gene, the very evolutionary puzzle piece that makes the X-Men possible. She doesn’t realize the impact it has on the future.

Fast forward 40 years and The Sentinel program was approved upon Trask’s death because mutants are assumed dangerous. The world is on the verge of destruction and those robots hunt mutants at will. The X-Men, however, continue to fight.

With the help of Kitty’s powers they are able to send Wolverine’s consciousness back in time to change what will happen in the future. That may prove more difficult than his present as he has to deal with a Charles Xavier wallowing in self-pity and breaking Magneto out of the most secure prison in the United States at that time.
However, for the audience therein lies the fun. Singer takes the script written by Simon Kinberg and runs with it. It possesses the right amount of humor blended with the film’s dramatic elements.

More noticeably, however, is that it doesn’t rely on huge explosions for its action. Nor is the film over powered by that. Singer has a story to tell and he does so with skill and intelligence.

He wisely allows the actors who comprise this wonderful cast to do their work. The result is the ultimate payoff. The familiarity breeds memorable moments which ultimately leads to a new classic in the comic book genre.
X-Men: Days of Future Past is not soon forgotten and worth seeing more than once.

Movie: X-Men Days of Future Past
Director: Bryan Singer
Cast: Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Halle Berry, Jennifer Lawrence
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Rated: PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi violence and action, some suggestive material, nudity and language.
Running time: 131 minutes
George’s rating: 4-of-5 stars
Check for theaters and showtimes at Atlas Cinemas, Cleveland Cinemas, Fandango.com and MovieTickets.com

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