We’re just a little over a week away from the release of X-Men: Days of Future Past, so it’s worth asking — is the movie actually any good?
Reviews are rolling in for Bryan Singer’s eagerly anticipated sequel, which looks to be one of the biggest superhero movies in history (which is saying quite a lot these days). Thankfully, the general consensus seems to be mostly positive, though some critics note the film is too busy and bloated at times for average fans.
Considering the fact that it combines casts from about a half-dozen different movies and a few different eras, that’s not much of a surprise. But for those who know the franchise and comic lore, it should hopefully be loaded with fun stuff.
The sequel opens May 23. Until then, check out the highlights from some of the major trades:
“Working from Simon Kinberg’s screenplay (very loosely adapted from an “X-Men” comicbook storyline by Chris Claremont and John Byrne), Singer unspools these intricate developments in a smooth, carefully controlled style that, while hardly skimping on expertly choreographed action and lavish f/x spectacle, puts a gratifying premium on psychological depth and delineation of character: The story effectively becomes a platonic triangle, with Professor X and Magneto (who, as always, has his own surprising agenda) waging war for Mystique’s soul.” - Justin Chang, Variety.
“It's hard to imagine fanboys having too much to grumble about here, as Singer has pulled together an ambitious, suspenseful screen chapter that secures a future for the franchise while facilitating continued reinvention. Audiences should sit tight through the end credits crawl for an enigmatic signoff scene that provides a taste of the next installment, X-Men: Apocalypse.” - David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter.
By this point, Days of Future Past has introduced 18 lead and supporting characters, with a handful more to follow. “The mind can only stretch so far before it snaps,” Kitty warns before she carries out the brain-meld, and you wish the writers had listened to her. In the effort to keep everyone busy, the film ties itself into a sheepshank. A fun new character, Quicksilver, can move fast enough to rearrange action scenes as they unfold, but after performing this trick once, he’s quickly written out. Fassbender’s young Magneto switches his loyalties seemingly at random, or to whichever side gives him an excuse to levitate, say, a football stadium. Wolverine, who could have otherwise prevented a particular plot upset in seconds, inconveniently suffers from a panic attack. - Robbie Collin, The Telegraph.
“It’s back to the future in the latest Marvel X-Men movie. Its tremendous visual effects are taken as a given. The performances by Jackman, McAvoy, Fassbender, Lawrence et al. strike a neat balance between action movie posturing and tongue-in-cheek self-deprecation. The problem here is an absurdly convoluted screenplay that leaps back and forth in time in a manner that is both confusing and increasingly irritating.” - Geoffrey MacNab, The Independent.
“The latest instalment in this sector of Marvel's comic-book empire is a film of two halves. It takes place in two different eras, which means two different teams of superheroes battling to save humanity in their own ways, and two different casts: the Patrick Stewart/Ian McKellen gang from the first bunch of X-Men movies, and the younger generation, led by James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, from 2011's X-Men: First Class. Unfortunately, it's a matter of two halves for the audience, too. If you've consulted your ring-binder of data from the previous six X-Men movies, you'll probably enjoy this. If you come to it fresh, it can be like trying to follow two games of chess at once.” - Steve Rose, The Guardian.
“There's not a lot of time and space for acting here, but the cast wisely gets the most out of each brief moment they're allowed to stop and talk. Josh Helman, as the younger version of one of the X-Men's most ferocious enemies, is particularly well cast, since his smug expression is hissable even when he's just standing in the background. Still, this is the best “X-Men” movie since Singer went off to other pursuits, and it puts enough of a whammy onto the mutant narrative to allow future sequels to veer off in any number of directions. Too bad that in doing so, it, like “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” often feels more like a set-up for movies to come rather than a satisfying experience in and of itself.” - Alonso Duralde, The Wrap.
“As a character in this super-hero epic says, “The mind can only stretch so far before it snaps.” Too right. Merely tracking the cinematic evolution of Marvel's mutants is a challenge (this is the seventh X-Men movie from Fox, if you include the two Wolverine spin-offs and Matthew Vaughn's 2011 prequel). And then there's the plot…” - Charlotte O’Sullivan, London Evening Standard.
“Beyond the character beats, DOFP delivers on the action. The ultra-adaptive future Sentinels are frighteningly efficient, while the Pentagon prison break involving lightning-fast Quicksilver (an excellent but underused Evan Peters) is fun and ingeniously shot. The interweaving future/past finale is ingeniously edited, with events in each timeline having major repercussions for the other. And with a relatively brisk running time, you can almost overlook the fact that the movie sags a bit in the talky middle, and occasionally gets a little sombre for its own good.” - Richard Edwards, SFX.
“But what we do get here is largely fantastic, not only re-energising old-favourite characters (and after his two spin-offs, Wolverine was in dire need of re-energisation) but introducing intriguing new ones. Most surprising is the fact that the super-speedy Quicksilver (Evan Peters), whose Ramona Flowers-y appearance did not inspire much confidence in marketing materials, turns out to be the coolest thing in the film. The sequence in which he leisurely takes out a squad of lawmen while stopping to taste soup makes Nightcrawler, in the words of Blackadder, look like an asthmatic ant with heavy shopping.” - Nick de Semlyen, Empire.