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(NEW YORK) -- X-Men: Days of Future Past begins in the future part of the title, a post-apocalyptic world where mutants and the humans who helped them have been either destroyed or imprisoned in what look like concentration camps. How did this happen? You can thank advanced war machines called sentinels, designed with the help of the DNA from the mutant known as Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence).
Fans of the original X-Men movies will almost immediately get the satisfaction of seeing Professor X (Patrick Stewart), Magneto (Ian McKellen), Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), Storm (Halle Berry) and Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) back together again -- but for how long? They're on a mountaintop in China, and like the relentless sentinels in The Matrix, who could also burrow through metal and concrete, these sentinels are closing in.
What to do? Since Kitty is able to project a person’s consciousness back in time, Professor X and Magneto hatch a plan to send one of the mutants into the past to convince the younger Prof X and Magneto to work together in order to prevent Mystique from doing something that sets off the series of events that lead to this horrific future. The person they decide to send back is Wolverine: he's the only mutant who can handle the physical brutality of time travel, because his mutation allows him to instantly heal. Never mind that he’s not actually physically going anywhere: only his consciousness is, although when he's injured in the past, it physically affects him in the future. Also kind of like The Matrix. Hmm...
While writer Simon Kinberg went to great lengths to make sure he crossed his paradoxes and dotted his wormholes, the time travel element here falls apart under close scrutiny. Then again, time travel falls apart under close scrutiny in every time travel movie, so let’s forget that and focus on the chaotic goodness that is X-Men: Days of Future Past.
The strength of the entire X-Men series is the actors, and James McAvoy’s performance here as a pseudo drug-addicted, self-pitying young Charles Xavier is worthy of its own indie film. Now, put McAvoy and Michael Fassbender (Young Magneto) in an airplane together, arguing about who screwed over whom the worst, and you have one of the best-acted scenes in the entire Marvel film canon. And that’s just the tip of the Iceman!
X-Men: Days of Future Past also gives us what could be the most entertaining, creative and funny scene in all of the X-Men movies, featuring Evan Peters (American Horror Story) as the lightning-fast Quicksilver conducting a jailbreak. When this film is available for home viewing, it's a scene fans will watch over and over. It is a classic. Game of Thrones star Peter Dinklage also is pitch-perfect as Bolivar Trask, the man behind the sentinel program and, more or less, the bad guy.
The weakness of X-Men: Days of Future Past is that, at times, there’s just too much going on. It's also annoyingly derivative, never mind the Matrix echoes. But these are minor complaints. X-Men: Days of Future Past is a tremendously entertaining film that's gorgeous to look at and satisfying to the core.
Four out of five stars.
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