X-Men: Days of Future Past

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Laura Clifford 
X-Men: Days of Future Past

Robin Clifford 

In a near future, the X-Men are battling Sentinels, machines which can mimic their powers and are all but sure to destroy them.  In order to save themselves, Professor X (Patrick Stewart) believes they must undo Mystique's (Jennifer Lawrence) assassination attempt on Sentinels creator Dr. Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage, HBO's 'Game of Thrones'), as her capture provided him with the DNA to perfect his research.  Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) is able to position consciousnesses into past selves, but only one of them has the strength to withstand decades of time travel and so Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) goes back to 1973 where he must convince the younger Xavier (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) to join forces in "X-Men: Days of Future Past."

Laura:
Now *this* is how you make a summer tentpole movie.  Director Bryan Singer may be in the media spotlight for alleged sexual abuse (a charge that may flash through some minds upon the sight of Jackman's well buffed, nude backside), but his commitment to this series cannot be called into account.  This mingling of X-Men past and present, young and old, is the best outing of the series to date, its themes front and center (screenplay by "The Last Stand's" Simon Kinberg with a story by himself, Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn), its life and death mission cut with character driven comedy.

The film's overly computer generated prologue introduces new characters like Bishop (Omar Sy, “The Intouchables”) and Blink (Fan Bingbing), whose teleportation powers are coming in awfully handy during a Sentinel attack. Once the concept's been laid out, the real fun begins, especially if you've ever wondered what Logan was up to in the 70's (it involves a lava lamp, a nude woman and Roberta Flack).  When he makes his way to Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters, he finds it in disrepair, Hank Bishop (Nicholas Hoult) informing him it's deserted.  But the Beast's just protecting Xavier, a broken man who can walk thanks to the serum Beast's created to keep his own lid on, but which strips the Professor's power.  Now it's Logan's turn to get Xavier back on track.

The two call upon a teenaged Peter (Evan Peters, TV's 'American Horror Story') who's been using his Quicksilver skills to heist Hostess snacks, to help them break Erik out of an underground Pentagon prison. This proves a powerful one-two cinematic punch as Quicksilver gets his man, only to be stopped with Logan and Charles in the Pentagon kitchen by armed guards.  Shooting at 3000 frames per minute, Singer and his DP Newton Thomas Sigel ("X-Men," "Drive") stage the film's tour de force as Peter rearranges the scene to ensure escape (all set to Jim Croce's 'Time in a Bottle').

The film's emotional pull comes from Logan getting Charles to become their leader (once he gives up the serum he's able to look into the future via Logan's mind, having a face to face with his older self) and Charles's attempt to reconnect with his childhood companion Raven, aka Mystique, who's now gone rogue. Charles and Erik are wary of each other, despite Logan's assurances that they both sent him back and when the group gather at the Paris Peace Accords to waylay Mystique, Logan's disorienting time 'slippage' comes at the worst moment - mission not accomplished and Magneto back to his own agenda.

The film delves into the Vietnam War and a country in crisis, an apt backdrop for distrust of mutant power.  Mystique, Magneto and Beast's public displays in Paris get Trask an in with President Nixon (Mark Camacho), who gives Trask carte blanche to build up his military industrial complex, but Magneto has a plan (it involves tampering with the metal-less Sentinels during shipment and raising the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium).  It's up to Charles, Logan and Beast to turn the political tide.

Jackman, whose claws go back to their original state in the 70's, leads a magnificent cast, an embarrassment of riches that proves it's possible to create a quality blockbuster.  McAvoy's great getting Xavier through a time of anguish to come out in form on the other side while Fassbender proves a cool headed manipulator.  Lawrence is physically agile, holding an opponent in a foot hold while perusing information.  Peters is great fun, although Quicksilver's character departs unnoted after his break in's been accomplished.  Ian McKellen returns as present day Magneto and Halle Berry's on hand to raise time stalling storm.  The cleverness of the script allows the series to reboot itself, with many players past popping up in final moments.

"X-Men: Days of Future Past" is smart, relevant yet playful.  The production is top of the line, from art direction to costume and effects.  It delivers the goods.

A-

Robin:
Robin did not see this film.
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