X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

(Video on Demand, January 2015)  X-Men: First Class was such an unexpected breath of fresh air, combining decent superhero action with a fizzy sixties setting, that it’s no surprise if follow-up Days of Future Past doesn’t do as well with its time-hopping but mostly-seventies era.  The one big thing that this installment does well is in melding most of the threads from existing X-Men movies so far, picking and choosing its actors in order to refresh its continuity in a big sprawling universe.  It’s common enough practice in the comic book world, but it’s one of the first films to do so in such an earnest fashion.  While some of the set-pieces feel a bit cheap, Days of Future Past does hit the high points we’ve come to expect from the series: Mutant powers well-exploited (the standout sequence here being Quicksilver’s high-speed combat sequence), themes of alienation decently approached, charismatic actors with decent material (Hugh Jackman, as always, but also Jennifer Lawrence, James McAvoy and Peter Dinklage) and a steady forward narrative rhythm.  In an increasingly cluttered superheroe movie universe, Days of Future Past manages to distinguish itself via a competent execution of a familiar formula.  It could have been a bit better, but it’s already good enough that there’s not much room to complain.

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