Ok. Here it comes. I've decided to break this post into two parts. First, is my review of X-Men: Days of Future Past, the film. Second...my geek rant about the X-Men films troubled continuity. Read at your own risk.
X-Men: Days of Future Past is a thoroughly entertaining summer action flick. This epic time travel extravaganza features gnarly battle sequences with members from both the original and First Class casts, in two different timelines. Director Bryan Singer finally introduces some large scale, CGI rendered carnage into the X-Men cinematic universe while maintaining his amazing knack for intense, character driven drama. Best of all, the Back To The Future-ish time travel paradoxes that take place in this film successfully undo all the godawful damage that X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine did to the franchise which is really all the hardcore fans cared about in the first place.
Days of Future Past doesn't take too long setting up the back story to catch any casual viewers up to speed. The film assumes you're already well versed in Singer's first two X-films and Matthew Vaughn's 2011 reboot, X-Men: First Class, and kind of ignores Bret Ratner's disastrous film and the last two solo Wolverine flicks (and rightfully so). Giant mutant hunting robots called Sentinels have turned on their human creators and all but taken over the world in a bleak Terminator-esqe dystopian future. A group of mutant rebels led by some former X-Men decide to send one of their team some 50 years back in time to stop a certain assassination from occurring that would erase their dismal reality and bloody war with Sentinels from existence. Of course Wolverine gets sent back because his healing factor...he already lived during that time...because he's Hugh Jackman and they need their best/most bankable star in the movie. Same deal with Mystique, Jennifer Lawrence becomes a huge Academy Award winning star and all of a sudden her character becomes the linchpin to the film's plot. It's okay though, Lawrence and Jackman are great in their roles, but the real draws are James McAvoy as young Professor X and my homie Michael Fassbender as young Magneto. The chemistry between these two is just insane and their performances are the film's biggest draw. The anguish in McAvoy's face in his strung out, Lt. Dan 1970's version of Xavier was an unexpected surprise but finally seeing Fassbender in full on Magneto regalia was the absolute highlight of the film.
Yeah, there are some odd plot holes that stick out like a sore thumb (Kitty Pryde's phasing powers relate to time traveling how? When did Wolverine get his adamantium claws back?) and the middle act sort of drags for a bit before the dual timeline Sentinel battle kicks off into overdrive in the end, but overall this is the best X-Men film since X-2 and the big pay off rests in the film's epilogue where all the damage from The Last Stand is wiped clean.
The Rant (warning- SPOILERS-):
The Dark Phoenix Saga, Days of Future Past is considered the holy grail of classic X-Men comic book stories. Since Brett Ratner famously dropped the ball with Phoenix in *shudders* X-Men: The Last Stand, many felt like this Days of Future Past flick would be the last chance to get a legit X-Men story adapted to the big screen (before the original cast who've been doing these films since the Clinton Administration get too old and/or die). Well, sad news for you dudes because Days of Future Past is not a successful comic book adaptation ala The Avengers or any one of Marvel Studios' recent films. No, X-Men: Days of Future Past doesn't have the luxury of telling it's own unique and vibrant story, instead this film had one job and one job only: to retcon the fucked beyond fucked continuity of the X-Men franchise. Thankfully Bryan Singer's new mutant fest sweeps up most of the mess us fans have been crying over for the past decade but even Days of Future Past and it's magical back from the grave epilogue (Cyclops and Jean are back, suck it Ratner) can't fix the myriad of problems with the X-Men films.
First, the series is just old. As much as we like fooling ourselves into thinking otherwise, time waits for no man. X-Men came out FOURTEEN YEARS AGO. That's pre- 9/11, back when Hollywood was still jocking The Matrix (black leather uniforms anyone?). Although Singer did a good job depicting the X-Men's Civil Right's like drama to the big screen (bigotry, discrimination, fear, etc), the man is simply not cut out for sprawling action set pieces. Now that he's taken the reigns of the X-universe once again, Days of Future Past still feels grounded in the same small framed early millennium shackles of the first film. Not that the action in this movie is bad, it's just that by now, after the barrage of Marvel Studio's films of recent memory, we've all seen better.
Also, as great as Singer is with character development and fleshing out great performances from his actors, he's still "meh" on respecting the comic book source material and thus, the very spirit of the X-Men characters. Take Quicksilver for example. Despite his asinine costume, the dude provides some great comic relief and steals the first half of the film. Too bad he's nothing like his comic counterpart and Singer's decision to throw Quicksilver into the fray now (as a teen in the 1970's) only further messes with the continuity he's tasked with restoring (he's shown with a younger sister who is clearly NOT his twin, The Scarlet Witch, and his dad Magneto must have had him when he was about 17 years old himself, before the events in First Class...wut?).
It's an endless cycle of WTF-ism that just boggle the mind (Apparently Beast develops a serum that blocks mutant powers making them human in the 1970's but he doesn't seem to remember this in the 2000's when that "mutant cure" drug is the focal point of Last Stand. Isn't Wolverine supposed to be in Vietnam with his bro Sabretooth during the early 70's? How is Trask's character played by Peter Dinklage when he's played by Bill Duke in the first trilogy?). Days of Future Past does an adequate job of straightening most of the mess up, but the damage is just too problematic and the film suffers as a result of it. Maybe X-Men: Apocalypse will be the film we've all been waiting for? Finally free to move beyond the Xavier/Magneto ideological battle we've seen since 2000.