xmen X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) Directed by Bryan Singer. Starring: Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender. IMDB says: “The X-Men send Wolverine to the past in a desperate effort to change history and prevent an event that results in doom for both humans and mutants.”

X-Men: Days of Future Past starts in the middle of a dystopian future where robots called Sentinels have been created to wipe out all mutants. This destruction has effected Earth as a whole to the point of no return. You’re dropped right into this mayhem, with X-Men characters new and old fighting Sentinels and hatching a last ditch effort to prevent this from ever happening in the first place. It’s an exciting catch to a film that keeps up the momentum and interesting concepts to make this a fine film in the X-Men series.

Like X-Men: First Class, the caliber of talent contributing to this action popcorn movie is above and beyond. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender lead excellent dramatic performances that are a perfect balance to their future counterparts, Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen. The casting could not be more top notch. The emotional weight in their stories really works and fit in nicely with the action, one never overwhelming the other. Along with their storylines, you also have Wolverine who may have more of an important focus in the film than you might expect.

This cast is a huge sprawl though, and screenwriter Simon Kinberg gives enough material to almost everyone. You don’t really get a chance to meet some of the new mutants, but Peter Dinklage does get a chance to ham it up a bit as the film’s main villain. From the old and new casts, you get to see Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) in a pivotal part, Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) battling some inner demons, and a few fun cameos. The best new addition was Evan Peters as Quicksilver, who had a fun, silly role and some of the best scenes. I definitely want to see more of that character.

Everything here just works very well. It’s a fun movie that takes the awesome concept of linking the franchises, and makes the most of it. The only shame is that it’s unlikely to be applicable in future installments.

While part of me yearns for more original fare at the major box office, it’s hard to argue against the continuation of the superhero franchises when each new movie keeps raising the bar. 2012’s X Men: First Class is one of the best superhero films I have seen to date so it was exciting to hear about the crazy story arch of the next film.

Similar to its predecessor, Days of Future Past does a fine job covering a wide range of locations and timelines. There are so many different events to follow in the movie but the script keeps the audience reeled in tight with the characters and doesn’t allow for much time to have your mind wander elsewhere. This seems to be increasingly difficult to accomplish the larger the stories of these comic book movies become but Days does the best to sidestep convoluted story arcs (even if it becomes cloudy after the fact – like when you find out that certain characters will be played by new faces in future movies because of legal reasons.)

The performances are again, the biggest asset to the film. James MC-AV-ORY is slowing becoming one of those actors that will make me watch something even if I have no interest in it and the rest of the cast is just stellar as well (see all of Jess’ words about the key players above.) The actors are clearly elevating the material, giving it the dramatic presence that is often overlooked in films of this genre.

If I had to compare this movie to the first, I still enjoy First Class a bit more. There is more emphasis on what it’s like to be a mutant and the terrifying battle waged every time the world has to handle something new and not yet understood. In this sequel, that driving force is somewhat muted in favor of more universe building. It’s a small concession and overall it comes down to a personal preference for what you look for in a story.

To wrap up, it would be a shame to miss Days of Future Past while it’s on the big screen. You can skip the 3D but the movie is a great intro to the summer movie season and is well worth your money spent at the theater.