"X-Men: Days of Future Past" represents the biggest installment yet in the 14-year, seven-film franchise, with a twisty time-traveling plot, a hefty $200-million budget, and a super-sized cast cherry-picked from "X-Men: First Class" and "X-Men: The Last Stand."
According to nearly unanimous positive reviews, veteran "X" director Bryan Singer and his ensemble pulled it off with aplomb.
The Times' Betsy Sharkey writes, "Time travel, Peter Dinklage and 1970s kitsch top a very long list of what makes 'X-Men: Days of Future Past' such a blast." The "massive top-drawer cast" — which includes James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Hugh Jackman and Jennifer Lawrence — "has never been better employed either."
Sharkey adds, "There is action galore, but 'Future Past' is a deeper, richer, more thoughtful film, more existential in its contemplations than earlier 'Xs,' all rather nicely embedded in the mayhem churned up by the mutants' altered states.
A.O. Scott of the New York Times says that although the pretzel-like plot and frantic action get messy, "as usual, the characters — and the performers playing them — step unto the breach to provide just enough wit and feeling to make 'Days of Future Past' something other than a waste of a reasonable person's time. … The actors tackle the roles without winking or condescension, and it is nice to see them together again, however distracting the circumstances."
The Wall Street Journal's Joe Morgenstern gives the film a rave review, writing, "The most striking thing about 'X-Men: Days of Future Past' is its generosity. Huge franchise installments are rarely as enjoyable as this one. They aren't as inventive, richly detailed, surprisingly varied, elegantly crafted or improbably stirring."
He adds, "The film isn't flawless; sometimes too much of a good thing becomes a sprawl. But the new "X-Men" … feels urgently important while it's happening and thoroughly satisfying once it's over. That's my definition of a really good time."
Less enthusiastic but still positive is the Boston Globe's Ty Burr, who says, "'X-Men: Days of Future Past' upholds the acceptably high batting average of Marvel's second-tier movie franchise. … 'Days' is fast, smart, well-acted, and intermittently inspired, and if you don't know or care who Beast or Blink or Storm are, you can safely skip it. Seven films in from 2000's 'X-Men,' the series is playing to the converted — which by now is almost everyone under 30."
New York magazine's David Edelstein calls "Days of Future Past" a "triumph of entrepreneurship" for keeping the "X" franchise viable — and he says it's a pretty good superhero movie to boot. Singer, Edelstein writes, is "reborn — deft, elegant, spring-heeled — in 'X-Men: Days of Future Past.' The special effects don't bog him down: They lift the movie to a surreal and more emotional dimension."
McAvoy (Professor X) and Fassbender (Magneto) also do good work, Edelstein says, and Lawrence (Mystique) is "the jewel of the movie."
Slate's Dana Steven writes that in addition to the "luxuriant excess of its cast," "'Days of Future Past' lays on the abundance visually and technologically as well. Shot in deep, crisp 3-D, with loads of super slow-motion battles and shape-shifting transformations, it's maximalist Hollywood filmmaking at its best, the kind of extravagant production that, like a Wagner opera, can sweep you up in a sense of mythic grandeur even as you struggle to follow what's going on."