X-Men: Days Of Future Past [2014] ★★★½

xmen_1 sheet_approval“X-Men: Days of Future Past” is everything a comic book movie could hope to be: smart, original, exciting and funny. It is vastly superior to all the previous installments, and not just because it draws on one of the most admired stories in the series. Screenwriter Simon Kinberg has used the time travel concept as a springboard for brand new ideas and has infused his work with a bracing sense of humor. And in the hands of director Bryan Singer (who directed the first two films), the series still feels fresh and vibrant, even after all these years. As icing on the cake, the movie provides a great role for Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones’ MVP), who knocks it out of the park. There’s never a sense of “been there done that” here, making it one of the best comic book sequels ever made. One of the writer’s most impressive feats is dealing with the time travel concept without leaving room for plot holes, which he does with extraordinary skill. The movie opens in the future, and it’s a very dark future. An army of killer robots known as Sentinels is wiping out all mutants, leaving professor Charles Xavier (the great Patrick Stewart) and his longtime friend/enemy, Magneto (Ian McKellen) with no choice…except to send Logan/Wolverine (Hugh Jackman, never better) back to the year 1973 in order to undo certain key events and change the future. That would require him to meet the younger version of Xavier and Magneto (James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, both dynamite). I’m deliberately being vague about the details because, having read nothing about the story, it all came as a surprise, and I loved every second of it. But I can tell you that the action scenes are brilliantly staged and very exciting to watch. Whether it’s Wolverine doing what he does best or spectacular visual effects driven showdowns, director Bryan Singer does an excellent job and never loses sight of the emotional stakes at every turn. The cast couldn’t be better, with Jackman, McAvoy, Fassbender, Halle Berry, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult and Ellen Page delivering the goods from start to finish. But there’s particular pleasure in watching Emmy Award winner Peter Dinklage tackle a role he was probably born to play. I’ll say no more, except that “Days of Future Past” is blockbuster entertainment at its best. Just let it work its magic; you won’t be disappointed.

Rating: 3.5/4

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