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Is 'X-Men: Days of Future Past' Just Another Marvel Mutant Retread? Critics Don't Think So

Photo of Ryan Lattanzio By Ryan Lattanzio | TOH! May 13, 2014 at 4:07PM

Director Bryan Singer's mutant mash "X-Men: Days of Future Past" doesn't hit theaters until May 23, but early reviews have landed. Is the latest Marvel entry of the Summer just another expensive, fans-only spectacle? Or is there substance here?
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'X-Men: Days of Future Past'
'X-Men: Days of Future Past'

Director Bryan Singer's mutant mash "X-Men: Days of Future Past" doesn't hit theaters until May 23, but early reviews have landed. Is the latest Marvel entry of the Summer just another expensive, fans-only spectacle? Or is there substance here?

Turning on an all-out war for mutant survival across two time periods, this sequel to "The Last Stand" and "First Class" -- and sort-of-followup to "The Wolverine" -- stars Hugh Jackman, Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Anna Paquin, Nicholas Hoult, Ellen Page and, oh, we'll just stop right there. You get it.

Below, a roundup of first reviews for the 20th Century Fox film. And a trailer. The word is good, though Singer may not be able to enjoy his success at present.

The Hollywood Reporter has mutant pride:

Matthew Vaughn and a superb cast reinvigorated the franchise with cool retro style and globetrotting intrigue in 2011's "X-Men: First Class." The series' original director, Bryan Singer, continues that momentum in the vigorously entertaining "X-Men: Days of Future Past." While it's more dramatically diffuse than the reboot and lacks a definitive villain, the new film 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. Huge worldwide box office seems guaranteed.

Variety digs it, too:

No skyscrapers blow up, no cities are leveled, and while the White House and a football stadium suffer some serious structural damage, the wholesale destruction of human civilization is kept to a refreshing minimum in "X-Men" -- just one of several respects in which this strikingly ambitious yet intimately scaled entertainment distinguishes itself from so much of its comicbook-movie kind. Back at the helm of the Fox/Marvel franchise he successfully launched 14 years ago, director Bryan Singer stages a stealth reboot by introducing a playful time-travel element to the ongoing saga, bringing two generations of mutantkind together in a story that toggles cleverly between the political tumult of 1973 and a not-so-distant dystopian future.

Marvel maven Drew McWeeny of Hitfix is a fan:

It sounds complicated, but one of the things that works so well about the script by Simon Kinberg (working from a story that was hatched with Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn, who pumped such vital new energy into the series with "X-Men: First Class") is that it makes it all feel simple. You get how they're going to do what they're going to do, you get what the stakes are, and you get a strong sense of the ticking clock. This is the last time Kitty will be able to do this. If Wolverine fails, there is no more reset button. Everyone will die, and there will be no way back for any of them.

And here's ScreenDaily:

Returning to the X-Men franchise for the first time since 2003, director Bryan Singer shows little sign of rust, delivering one of the series' very best installments. "X-Men: Days Of Future Past" has a grandeur and elegance to go along with its expected action spectacle, but it’s also sufficiently funny and emotional, capably interweaving big themes about identity and destiny into the mix as well. Considering that this is the seventh X-Men film, including two standalone Wolverine adventures, "Days of Future Past" can't help but suffer a little from mutant fatigue. But on the whole, this latest sequel manages to bring together the original trilogy's stars (most importantly Hugh Jackman) with the new films' leads (particularly Michael Fassbender) for a story that's appropriately dark, epic and intelligent.

Below, also check out the sexy leads' appearance on "The Graham Norton Show."


This article is related to: X-Men, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Reviews, Video, Bryan Singer, Michael Fassbender, Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.