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'X-Men: Days of Future Past' compelling, if convoluted, early reviews say

Early reviews of 'X-Men: Days of Future Past' say the film is compelling but convoluted
'X-Men: Days of Future Past' is 'electrifying,' 'suspenseful' or 'absurdly convoluted,' depending on reviewer

The new superhero epic "X-Men: Days of Future Past" has a lot going for it, including the return of director Bryan Singer to the franchise, a storyline adapted from a beloved comic-book arc, and the merging of the star-studded casts of the original "X-Men" trilogy and the period reboot "X-Men: First Class." But is it all too much to handle?

Although moviegoers will have to wait until May 23 to decide for themselves, early reviews of "Future Past" are largely positive, with critics praising the film's ambition and execution, though some feel it's overly complicated.

Variety's Justin Chang calls the film a "strikingly ambitious yet intimately scaled entertainment [that] distinguishes itself from so much of its comicbook-movie kind." James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender "make an electrifying duo" as Professor Xavier and Magneto, Hugh Jackman "is in unusually restrained, cool-headed form" as Wolverine, and Peter Dinklage is "excellent" as the villainous Bolivar Trask. Jennifer Lawrence (Mystique), however, "registers with less impact than one might have hoped."

The Hollywood Reporter's David Rooney says "Future Past" is "vigorously entertaining" and adds, "It's hard to imagine fanboys having too much to grumble about here, as Singer has pulled together an ambitious, suspenseful screen chapter that secures a future for the franchise while facilitating continued reinvention."

Alonso Duralde of the Wrap says Singer "keeps things moving along briskly enough that you can just go along with the ride of Superhero Stuff without getting bogged down in the labyrinthine plotting if you don't want to." But, he adds, "'Days of Future Past' occasionally feels the burden of juggling this many characters and timelines and events" and "ends up feeling more exhausting than exuberant."

Cinemablend's Sean O'Connell raves that "Future Past" is "the best, most complete and most entertaining 'X-Men' movie we've ever seen." Even so, he concedes, "The movie rarely slows down, which is exhilarating for 'X-Men' enthusiasts, but might be too much for casual fans seeking the next eye-popping thrills of the summer blockbuster season."

Accross the pond, a number of U.K. critics have found the latest "X-Men" installment hard to follow. Robbie Collin of the Telegraph says, "In the effort to keep everyone busy, the film ties itself into a sheepshank." He adds, "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."

The Independent's Geoffrey Macnab applauds the "tremendous visual effects" and the performances, but says, "The problem here is an absurdly convoluted screenplay that leaps back and forth in time in a manner that is both confusing and increasingly irritating."

And Steve Rose of the Guardian writes, "If you've consulted your ring-binder of data from the previous six 'X-Men' movies, you'll probably enjoy this. If you come to it fresh, it can be like trying to follow two games of chess at once." On the plus side, "Singer always has a neat special effect, a well-timed gag or an action set piece around the corner, whipping up the action towards a symphonic climax."

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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