X-Men: Days of Future Past makes a convoluted narrative less clunky and derivative due to its emphasis on character-driven plot and emotional motivations. The story follows the general group of X-Men in a post-apocalyptic setting, barely holding onto life in a world ravaged by Sentinels, machines that were put into action in the 1970s to kill mutants. Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), due to his ability to self-heal and withstand incredible amounts of pain, is the only one that Kitty (Ellen Page) can send back in time to prevent Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from committing an act that will put these actions into motion. If it sounds even a little confusing now, it is. But it works far better on screen, particularly due to the film’s emphasis of the aforementioned standouts and young Xavier and Magneto, played by James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, respectively.

The strongest element of the X-Men franchise that Bryan Singer once again brings forth is the natural dynamics between the characters and their internal struggles: Wolverine and his seeming invincibility, Mystique and her battle with self-image, Xavier and his drug addiction/paralysis, and Magneto with his obsession with power and loss of personal connection. All four actors tackle their roles with ease, the movie’s well paced, often funny, and every moment is driven by character development. There are questions that arise that nag at the continuity of the films: how, exactly, is modern Xavier alive after the events in the third film? And how did Magneto earn his powers back? These are questions the filmmakers either ignored or simply ones they answered and went over my head. Nonetheless, Days of Future Past is engaging, emotionally driven superhero fare, arguably the most focused feature in the series to date. 

Grade: ★★★ (out of 5)

Written by Eric Forthun