'X-Men: Days of Future Past': What the Critics Are Saying
X-Men: Days of Future Past, out Friday, unites the Marvel franchise's original stars Hugh Jackman, Ellen Page, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry and Patrick Stewart with reboot recruits Jennifer Lawrence, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and Nicholas Hoult. The sequel is based on the 1981 Uncanny X-Men comic Days of Future Past, in which Kitty Pryde (Page) uses her consciousness transference powers to go back from a dystopian future and rewrite history.
Helmed by the franchise's original director Bryan Singer, the latest Marvel release is predicted to score the top opening of the year so far in North America with north of $100 million.
Read what top critics are saying about X-Men: Days of Future Past:
The Hollywood Reporter's film critic David Rooney notes in his review that the sequel is "more dramatically diffuse than the reboot and lacks a definitive villain," yet it "is shot through with a stirring reverence for the Marvel Comics characters and their universe. And it ups the stakes by threatening nothing less than the genocide of the mutant population, among them faces old and new." The time-travel premise "calls into question many events from the original three movies — specifically 2006's X-Men: The Last Stand ... spend too long trying to align what happens here with earlier developments and your head will explode," but cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel and production designer John Myhre "provide marked contrasts between the two periods — brooding darkness in the present; a softer, more naturalistic look in the past — that helps as the action progresses and cross-cutting increases."
Of the ensemble cast, American Horror Story regular Evan Peters stands out as a playful Peter Maximoff/Quicksilver (especially as the rights dispute that kept the character out of previous films has been resolved, allowing him to appear in both the X-Men and Avengers franchises). Altogether, "Singer has pulled together an ambitious, suspenseful screen chapter that secures a future for the franchise while facilitating continued reinvention," even until the postcredits scene that provides a taste of X-Men: Apocalypse.
The New York Times' A.O. Scott says that the film has its moments of "intricate, freeze-frame slapstick ballet that fuses the pop playfulness of the old comics with the latest digital gimmickry," but "the frantic crosscutting of the culminating battles, which take place simultaneously and also a half-century apart, requires too much thought on the part of the audience because it has received too little on the part of the filmmakers. But, as usual, the characters — and the performers playing them — step unto the breach to provide just enough wit and feeling to make Days of Future Past something other than a waste of a reasonable person’s time." Additionally, "the film has found an excellent villain in the person of Peter Dinklage, playing a mutant-hating arms manufacturer with the excellent name of Bolivar Trask."
The Los Angeles Times' Betsy Sharkey writes that "Future Past is a deeper, richer, more thoughtful film, more existential in its contemplations than earlier Xs, all rather nicely embedded in the mayhem churned up by the mutants' altered states," noting that "the idea of intolerance and discriminating against differences has always been a central theme. Yet Future Past lets the discussion and debate about the mutants' status play out across time in fresh ways." Even more so, "the film's emotions are as transformative as the mutants."
Chicago Tribune's Christopher Borrelli calls the film "generous" and "delightfully convoluted," especially with its many secondary characters, but noted that of the central actors, "Fassbender seems to retreat a bit too coldly into Magneto" and "Lawrence, a cog in a gigantic pastiche, struggles to work up her usual spunk and urgency." Instead, "the film belongs to McAvoy" as a young Professor X, as the sequel "walks a rare line between casual and urgent."
The Washington Post's Michael O'Sullivan notes that the sequel "is, in itself, as intoxicating as a shot of adrenaline," mostly because "it wipes out all those bad feelings left by Last Stand, which is widely reviled by fans as one of the worst films in the franchise (next to, of course, X-Men Origins: Wolverine)." Though there are "time-travel anomalies that spring leaks in an otherwise airtight construction ... the disappointment eventually dissipates, not because we get the movie we want, but because we get the one we need."