Review: X-Men: Days of Future Past

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X-Men: Days of Future PastThe movie X-Men: Days of Future Past is the best of the X-Franchise and possibly the strongest Marvel Comics screen adaptation to date. This is the summer movie to beat. The story unites two sets of cast members in a time-travel epic in which teams past and future battle to save the world.

The film opens in 2023, when the few remaining mutants are on the run, pursued constantly by sentinels, advanced robots with the ability to absorb and use mutant powers, adapting to everything thrown at them. One of the most appealing features of the X-Men comics has always been the unique interactions between characters who combine powers in new and interesting ways, something that featured strongly in X-Men: First Class. The epic opening battle we see in this movie with a different team of trained, experienced mutants is stunningly choreographed, with lavish visual effects.

The surviving mutants meet up with the principal members of the X-Men: Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart), Magneto (Ian McKellan), Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), and Storm (Halle Berry) and explain they’ve been using a time-travel technique to warn themselves of impending attacks, giving them time to evacuate each location.

Armed with that knowledge, Xavier hatches a plan to travel 50 years back in time and prevent Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage), weapons designer and inventor of the sentinels from being assassinated by Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), the trigger that convinced Congress to fund the sentinel program. The ensuing story takes Wolverine -- the only mutant with the healing ability to survive such a trip -- back to the Nixon era on a quest to reunite Xavier and Magneto as they simultaneously battle evil forces 50 years apart.

The amazingly rich story in X-Men: Days of Future Past manages to cover one of the most memorable comic-book storylines, continue the story from First Class, fill in massive holes in the Wolverine storyline that runs through all of the X-Men and Wolverine films, and fit perfectly with the continuity of the first three X-Men films.

Two standouts from the cast include Evan Peters (American Horror Story) as Quicksilver and Dinklage as Trask. Quicksilver’s ability to move really really, ridiculously fast affords him a fan-favorite scene that combines the ultimate in high-speed photography with the most comic use of a Jim Croce song ever, to perfect gleeful effect.

Dinklage’s Trask could never have been played by another actor. Dinklage owns every scene as the genius weapons designer who is deadly serious about the danger to humans posed by mutants and completely certain of his path to eliminate them. His presence gives even Richard Nixon pause.

Previous film franchises have united old and new casts more or less successfully (Star Trek did it twice, with Generations and the 2009 Star Trek) but none can be said to have done it this well on this scale with such success. Returning to directing the series after several films' absence, Bryan Singer shows he is the ultimate master of the X-Men movie franchise.

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The late (and very much missed) Cinematexas film festival was held annually in which city?
Hint: it's a city that begins with "A" and rhymes with "Blaustin".