Forget skipping anything, just see X-Men, says PEOPLE's critic
Whoa, whoa, whoa feelings? The new X-Men movie keeps it fun, even when it goes deep.
That’s why X-Men: Days of Future Past is easily your best bet at the movies this weekend.
X-Men: Days of Future Past
What with the love triangles, the occasional tiffs that end in paralysis and the various teen struggles (extreme hirsutism, inability to make out without killing one’s partner, etc.), the X-Men are the drama queens of the superhero universe. The tricky part always has been balancing all of those pesky feelings with a tight narrative, fun action sequences and actors who can pull it all together. Days of Future Past does just that.
The film combines the best of X: the old wounds of the original crew, including Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellan), with the dynamic cast of 2011’s X-Men: First Class, who deepened and complicated the rather simplistic story of “good” mutants vs. “bad.” The fight this time is in the future, as the mutants wage a war they cannot win against an unstoppable band of morphing soldiers known as sentinels. Their only hope is to send Logan (Hugh Jackman) back to the ’70s to stop the war before it begins.
That’s going to be tricky for our claw-knuckled friend, as he not only has to reunite bitter enemies young Professor X/Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Magneto/Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender), he has to get them to work together, while also keeping close watch on Raven (Jennifer Lawrence), who’s become quite the freedom fighter for the mutant cause. You’ll understand her motivation when you meet Dr. Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage), a government type who creates the sentinel project, and is even more sinister than his Magnum P.I.-by-way-of-IBM looks would suggest.
It is complicated, granted, all this time travel, two sets of actors and overlapping grievances, but Days of Future Past streamlines the action so smoothly, you won’t get lost. That’s partly due to embattled director Bryan Singer’s clear direction and the film’s tight script, but give the actors their due. McAvoy’s Charles is incredibly resonant, an alcoholic wastrel tended by Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult) in the shuttered mutant school. Fassbender’s Erik carries no small measure of guilt for betraying his former friend, a feeling communicated more in fleeting glances than anything articulated. Then there’s Raven, Lawrence’s conflicted avenging angel (or is that angel of death?), who’s propelled as much by her own lonely past, as the horrific future Dr. Trask has in store for her and the rest of the mutants.
Lest you think this is all a bunch of tedious, melodrama junk, let me assure you that there is a fun action movie amidst all the agita. Days of Future Past has plenty of gnarly fights, special effects that accomplish things you won’t see coming, and a real sense of humor. (Evan Peters is particularly lively as Quicksilver, a speedy mutant who helps pull off a prison break filled with cheeky touches.)
The movie is so entertaining that there’s no real danger of all those heavy feelings weighing it down, as it stays buoyant and nimble till the end. It just so happens this is a substantial cinematic experience, as well as one heck of a good time.