"X-Men: Days of Future Past" is all one could hope for in an X-Men movie. Or an action movie. Or a sci-fi movie. In fact, unless you adhere to a strict art house diet, this one’s very well worth your list.
At this juncture we meet the Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen versions of Charles and Eric, holed up with several of the group in a remote mountain fortress, brought together by some force formidable enough to have caused them to set aside their differences (no small task, given the vehemence of their disagreement and the fact that when last we saw them, Eric had been stripped of his power and Charles was, well, dead).
The enemy of my enemy is my friend, as they say, here said enemy being a horrifying weapon against which the mutants are helpless, and nothing so gentle as an injection dart that neutralizes their superpower and renders them harmlessly human. The only thing left the mutants to prevent their extermination is going back in time and somehow altering the events that allowed the weapon into being. If they can’t, it’s game over, man, game over.
Ever-skilled returning director Bryan Singer has outdone himself here with regard to the action sequences. Things kick off at breakneck speed, dropping us right amid a showdown with the aforementioned weapon, huge robotic “sentinels” created by mid-1970s scientist Bolivar Trask. These bad boys are to the mutants what The Terminator was to Sarah Connor, and we’re busy catching our breath ten minutes in. It’s a glorious ride for the next two hours (which you’ll never feel), including all manner of obstacle from temporal delicacies to jail breaks to political assassinations to keeping loved ones from going to the dark side and dealing with them if they do.
Returning writers Simon Kinberg, Jane Goldman, and Matthew Vaughn (also a franchise director) carry the mythos forward with great stewardship, incorporating myriad references and pinning each precisely according to previous installments. They even throw in a few lines that add tantalizing new dimension to all that is occurring and has come before. Franchise fans will be thrilled at the depth of "X-Men: Days of Future Past", but even those new to the mythos will stay right up to speed - you don’t have to know the history of the ingredients to relish an excellent meal.
The one proviso I might make to those who haven’t seen any of the X-Men films might be to suggest catching "X-Men: First Class" before seeing "X-Men: Days of Future Past". While you won’t be left behind in any way by coming in now (and you’ll notice how hard I’m pressing you do to so), "First Class" is a superb film and seeing it first will elevate "Days of Future Past" from being an excellent meal into one approaching world-class. Just be sure to move promptly so that you can see "Days of Future Past" on the big screen.
And speaking of big screen, do see "X-Men: Days of Future Past" in 3D. Not only is it worth the extra jingle, it truly serves this story (as it did with Bryan Singer’s last project, "Jack the Giant Slayer"). The sheer power generated by some of the proceedings is quite something to behold (Storm has never been in finer form), and there’s one scene in particular that’s worth twice the price of admission (and no, I’m not talking about Hugh Jackman, lovely as he is).
Michael Fassbender continues Magneto’s march of making us pray we’re on his side, Peter Dinklage carries Trask with a skilled balance of sincerity and despicability, and performances in general are top-notch.
Where do we go from here? There’s no telling. Stick around for the credits, and prepare to be impressed by "X-Men: Days of Future Past".
Story: The X-Men send Wolverine back to 1973 in a desperate attempt to alter the events that led to catastrophe in current time.
Genre: Action/Adventure, Sci-Fi
Starring: Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Hugh Jackman, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Halle Berry, Peter Dinklage, Ellen Page, Shawn Ashmore, Halle Berry, Daniel Cudmore, Bingbing Fan, Omar Sy, Evan Peters, Adan Canto, Booboo Stewart, Josh Helman, Famke Janssen, Anna Paquin,
Directed by: Bryan Singer
Running time: 131 minutes
Houston release date: May 23, 2014
Tickets: Check IMDb.com or your local listings
Screened May 20th 2014 at the Edwards Marq*E theater in Houston TX