ABOVE: Watch the trailer for X-Men: Days of Future Past
TORONTO — Filmed on the soundstages of La Cité du Cinema and at various exterior locations in Montreal, X-Men: Days of Future Past has exploded into theatres for the U.S. long weekend.
Directed by Bryan Singer and packed with an all-star cast — including Canada’s Shawn Ashmore and Ellen Page — the latest chapter in the X-Men franchise is likely to knock Godzilla from the top of the box office.
Does Days of Future Past excite or does it a disappoint like Last Stand did in 2006? Here’s a look at what some of the critics are saying.
Katherine Monk of Postmedia News said not only will X-Men fans be satisfied with Days of Future Past but “the real victory is that even people who are not established fans of mutant superheroes will find an entry point into the movie through its humour, its heart and its humanity.”
Monk gushed that everything about the movie is supersized but “it finds success on the human scale in every scene.”
She wrote: “Singer ensures every moment in this two-hour-plus X-travaganza has a reason for being on screen.”
At the Washington Post Michael O’Sullivan described Days of Future Past “as intoxicating as a shot of adrenaline” and declared “it’s what summer movies are meant to be.”
O’Sullivan wrote: “Does it answer the nagging question of how Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) can possibly still be alive after exploding into bits at the end of 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand? Or how Wolverine has metal claws again, after having them amputated at the end of last year’s The Wolverine? No, it does not. And so what? The movie provides enough of a buzz that, by the end, you just won’t care anymore.”
David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter found the movie “vigorously entertaining.”
He wrote: “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.”
Rooney said true fans will love dissecting “the challenging pretzel logic” of Simon Kinberg’s screenplay.
“Singer has pulled together an ambitious, suspenseful screen chapter that secures a future for the franchise while facilitating continued reinvention,” he opined. “Audiences should sit tight through the end credits crawl for an enigmatic signoff scene that provides a taste of the next installment, X-Men: Apocalypse.”
Across the pond, Robbie Collin of The Telegraph was less enthusiastic.
“This latest film feels like an attempt to reassure us that, 14 years on, the mutants can still match their younger rivals, although the effect is not unlike watching a recently divorced uncle dancing to ‘Blurred Lines’ at a wedding reception, while the bridesmaids shimmy warily towards the cloakroom,” he wrote.
“The film squanders both of its casts, reeling from one fumbled set-piece to the next. It seems to have been constructed in a stupor, and you watch in a daze of future past.”
In the New York Times, A.O. Scott seemed to echo this opinion.
“The plot is as overelaborate and muddled as some of the effects,” said Scott.
“The logic of the story — a time-travel pretzel that strains after the brain-teasing power of an old Star Trek episode — requires too many variables. 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.”
Scott Mendelson of Forbes said Days of Future Past has “a curious lack of urgency” and “distinct lack of energy.”
“It feels small-scale and muted,” he wrote. “This feels like yesterday’s comic book movie, and a strangely visually glum one (the 3D didn’t help) at that.
“In a story about time travel, X-Men: Days of Future Past mostly stands still. Real evolution will have to wait until the next sequel.”
Betsey Sharkey of the Los Angeles Times singled out the huge cast.
“It is amusing and at times moving to see the older and younger versions of key characters as they rewrite a bit of X-Men history,” she said. “And when they talk to themselves, well, it makes for some special meta moments.”
Mara Reinstein of US Weekly like the actors, too, but thought some should have had more to do.
“It’s a treat to see a pedigreed group of stars speaking intelligently and kicking butt. The collateral? Two card-carrying, Oscar winning actresses, Halle Berry and Anna Paquin, utter about 7-1/2 words between them,” wrote Reinstein.
“And poor Page spends most of the movie hunched over Jackman in the safe house, her fingers wedged to his forehead temples.”
Still, Reinstein gave Days of Future Past a favourable review, calling it “an electrifying ride that grips until its last frame.”
She added: “This is the rare popcorn fare that dares to emphasize emotional themes such as universal acceptance and redemption over budget-blowing special effects.”
At the Washington Post, Michael Cavna agreed, calling it “one of the top superhero movies in recent memory.”
“The X-Men franchise is back at full cinematic force,” he declared, adding it is “the best X-Men film yet.”
He wrote: “The franchise is back to a place of elevated excellence. There are flaws, but there are also so many creative payoffs. And, of course, make sure you stay after the credits.”
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