Overview: Mutants in a dystopic future try to correct their past as Bryan Singer returns to the franchise he created and merges discordant continuities into something beautiful. 20th Century Fox; 2014; Rated PG-13; 131 minutes.
The Good: It’s my pleasure to say that the series slump that occurred with X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine has all but faded from memory. Days of Future Past continues the streak of quality that First Class and The Wolverine initiated. It maintains the focus on character relationships that made those films good and adds action scenes that are actually interesting. The film’s opening scene, set in a dystopian future, perfectly illustrates how characters with vastly different powers should cooperate in battle (and makes me long for a Portal movie). A later scene starring speedster mutant Quicksilver is easily the best action sequence any X-Men movie has produced since Nightcrawler’s attack on the White House in X2. The film’s high stakes and stellar characterization make the action that much better. It’s nearly impossible to not feel something when almost every character meets a gruesome fate at some point or another.
The (Minor) Bad: The storyline is, as expected, somewhat convoluted. Nobody ever explains, for example, just how Kitty Pryde moves people through time. The focus is almost entirely on the Professor Xaviers, the Magnetos, and Mystique, so other characters get little to work with. Peter Dinklage, who could have been an amazing addition to the franchise, is pretty much wasted here. So are several of the characters from First Class, who are offhandedly mentioned to have been killed (good riddance, Emma). Some of the dialogue is cheesy, but if you didn’t think that would be the case, you’ve never watched an X-Men movie before.
The Retcon: X-Men: First Class rebooted a stale franchise, but many people were left with a bad taste in their mouths for how the previous X-Men cast went out and for the contradictory timelines displayed in all of the films. This film seeks to rectify those problems and does so successfully. The transitions from past to future are well-handled for the most part, and we consistently get to see the link between the two. This is especially satisfying near the end of the film when a certain terrible movie is all but wiped from existence by a character’s choices.
Overall: If you haven’t kept up with the franchise, Days of Future Past will make little sense. It is, in many ways, a love letter to the fans who have stuck with the series. It’s a very good love letter, though, so it’s a must-see for anyone who has more than a passing interest in the homo superior.