By Jeff Labrecque
Updated May 23, 2014 at 04:56 PM EDT

X-Men: Days of Future Past

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The Avengers might have a new nemesis: mutants.

Hollywood politics will likely keep Marvel’s two most-populated superhero franchises on different movie screens for the foreseeable future, but the critics are poised to put Fox’s X-Men on the same pedestal as the Avengers following Days of Future Past. Bryan Singer’s new movie, based on a 1981 comic book that involves time travel and mutant-killing Sentinels, unites the original “present-day” X-Men with their younger selves, introduced in Matthew Vaughn’s stylish 2011 prequel, First Class.

An embarrassment of casting riches unites when Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine is sent back to 1973 to change history so that his present isn’t an apocalyptic wasteland. He’s the link between Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen (and Halle Berry and Ellen Page) and the younger crop that includes James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, and Jennifer Lawrence. “Singer’s return in the pretzel-logic pop fantasia X-Men: Days of Future Past is so triumphant because of how effortless he makes connecting the dots seem,” writes EW’s critic Chris Nashawaty. “It’s an epic that couldn’t be more Byzantine on paper but scans with ease on screen.”

Read Nashawaty’s entire review, as well as a round-up of other notable critics, below.

Chris Nashawaty (Entertainment Weekly)

“The central conflict in Days of Future Past is between the young Xavier and Lehnsherr. Can they trust each other? Who has the stronger hold on Mystique? And once again, McAvoy and Fassbender prove that just because a movie is huge doesn’t mean you have to ham it up — that it’s possible to make a superhero flick feel as intimate as a piece of theater.”

A.O. Scott (New York Times)

“The logic of the story — a time-travel pretzel that strains after the brain-teasing power of an old Star Trek episode — requires too many variables. … The actors tackle the roles without winking or condescension, and it is nice to see them together again, however distracting the circumstances.”

Betsy Sharkey (Los Angeles Times) ▲

“It must be said that the director melds the past and the future together, mixing eras and metaphors in ways both hard-core fans and the completely uninitiated can enjoy and understand. More significant — the film’s emotions are as transformative as the mutants.”

Ignatiy Vishnevetsky (The A.V. Club)

“For better or worse, X-Men: Days Of Future Past is the first Marvel movie to truly embrace comics-style storytelling. … It returns the genre to its geek roots; depending on the viewer, it has the potential to be the most narratively satisfying and fluid entry in the X-Men film series, or the most alienating.”

Ty Burr (Boston Globe)

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.”

Mick LaSalle (San Francisco Chronicle)

“At times, Days of Future Past goes in directions that are far-fetched and unlikely, even within its own exaggerated world. But for the most part, it entertains. The 1973 art direction is impeccable — not just the cars, but the storefronts and the fonts in the signage — and even the songs on the soundtrack are from that particular year.”

Justin Chang (Variety) ▲

“As they did in First Class, McAvoy and Fassbender make an electrifying duo here, doing full justice to the emotionally complicated swirl of love, anger, kinship and betrayal that binds Charles and Erik, and rendering the kinder, gentler interplay between Stewart and McKellen all the more poignant by comparison.”

Rene Rodriguez (Miami Herald)

“Fassbender takes to the character with the same gravity and seriousness he displayed in 12 Years a Slave and Shame: He’s the anchor that grounds this potentially preposterous vessel and gives it weight and importance.”

Alex Pappademas (Grantland)

“The fact that Fassbender’s far too good to be in this movie actually makes him more effective as a character who’s developing a haughty disdain for mere mortals; his Magneto is the kind of archfiend whose first order of business after escaping a maximum-security prison is to tie himself a dope ascot.”

David Edelstein (New York)

“The jewel of the movie is Lawrence. In her human guise, she wears a smile that suggests she has dirty secrets (she does). When she goes blue, she’s even better. She swivels from the waist with robotic precision (she’s an excellent mime), and her eyes evoke the chill fury of a blood-drenched Sissy Spacek incinerating teens in Carrie.”

Richard Roeper (Chicago Sun-Times) ▲

“Peter Dinklage is magnetic as Dr. Bolivar Trask, the scientist who heads up the Sentinel program. Like so many characters in the X-Men saga, Trask is either a deeply flawed sorta-good guy who believes he’s doing the right thing, or a villain who actually makes some pretty good points.”

X-Men: Days of Future Past

Overall Metacritic rating (1-100): 75

Rotten Tomatoes: 93 percent

Rated: PG-13

Length: 131 minutes

Director: Bryan Singer

Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Hugh Jackman, Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen

Distributor: 20th Century Fox

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X-Men: Days of Future Past

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