Hank: "In the future, do I make it?"
There's a lot of baggage associated with this franchise. For a while it seemed like it was dead, with a less than good third installment (X-Men: The Last Stand), and a horrible first spin off (X-Men Origins: Wolverine). Then we got two installments that seemed to redeem things (X-Men: First Class and The Wolverine). And now we have X-Men: Days of Future Past, which has capitalized on the world created by First Class in the best way possible.
It's a strange beast, though (pun intended), with a complicated plot involving time travel. But for those that are fans of this particular movie version of the X-Men, it feels like a return to form. We still have the slightly silly leather outfits, not quite source material characters, and some narrative flaws and logical holes that have plagued the series for fifteen years. But for the most part this was a very solid, well crafted, well written, and decently acted film.
The biggest narrative issues arise from the fact that we never really get some fundamental answers to character questions. The other big flaw is that many of the new characters that were introduced had almost no actual dialogue, as if they were there simply because they were supposed to be there. That being said, their presence was definitely felt.
Of the new players I think Blink stood out for me the most. Her power was interpreted on screen in such a cool way that I wish more time had been devoted to her. However seeing Warpath, Sunspot, Colossus, Shadowcat, Iceman, Storm, and Bishop in action scenes made my inner comic book geek smile from ear to ear because the power effects were some of the best realized interpretations of those powers I've ever seen.
The other two big supporting roles went to Beast and Quicksilver. There's been a bunch of controversy around Quicksilver because the same character is going to be in the next Avengers movie played by a different actor, and will have no connection to this version of the character. Honestly, I think the same character can exist in two different movie series' without audience confusion. But I can see why it's a frustrating and obnoxious thing, since it's a big character right's fight between Marvel Studios and 20th Century Fox.
As for how much they contributed to the story? Well Beast was fun, but his make-up continues to be a glaring issue for me. Also, I didn't really see much of a reason for him to be involved, beyond being someone for Wolverine to interact with. The same could be said for Quicksilver, but he had perhaps the best scene in the entire movie, so I'm perfectly fine with his inclusion. I'll just say if the upcoming Flash series does anything like this scene, a lot of people are going to fall in love with that series.
Yet the story was really centered around four major players: Wolverine, Magneto, Mystique, and Professor X. It feels like most of these movies have centered around these characters, but that's probably for the best. Wolverine had some really fun moments, and got to show a bit more emotion than usual. Mystique was central to the plot, and I think Jennifer Lawrence did a good job, but she wasn't quite as much fun as she's been in other entries of the series.
But the story was focused on Erik and Xavier. We actually got a chance to see two sides to each character, portrayed by the original actors (Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart) and the younger versions of themselves (Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy). It was neat to see this drastically different take on the same characters, but it was also a chance to grow those characters in important ways. Having the fundamental aspect of the story revolve around changing the future meant that each character had to undergo a bit of growth.
Although Michael Fassbender (Magneto) was a dominant and impressive presence like he was in X-Men: First Class, it was really James McAvoy's show. He had the best arc, and had to do most of the emotional heavy lifting in this one. It was nice to see him explore Xavier's humanity, since he's always been such a stalwart force for good in the series -- it was great to see a bit of why. I would like to know more though, so I hope the younger versions of the characters come back for the next installment.
Most of the plotting and story was built on the six movies that came before this one (well, not so much X-Men Origins: Wolverine), and fixing a lot of the issues that were caused by the lesser entries in the series (mostly X-Men: The Last Stand). Again I won't go into spoilers, but I think they accomplished that and then some. The final moments of the movie were some of the most satisfying I've seen in a while (for a fan of the series as a whole).
The villain wasn't exactly the most intimidating, but I'm not sure he was meant to be. I really did like Peter Dinklage's performance, and I think his role was an important inclusion (the Sentinels have been noticeably missing since the original X-Men). Those Sentinels were both impressive and imposing, but I think the 1970's versions were a bit of a stretch technology wise. Of course the X-Men universe has always been a bit more technologically advanced than the real world, so I'll also let this one slide.
Was it as good as The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, or The Dark Knight? No. But it was excellent, and definitely a worthy follow up to X-Men: First Class. Actually I think it was not only the best entry in the series so far, but it could be one of my favorite comic book movies of all time, or at least in the top ten.
4 out of 4 Comic Book Easter Eggs that only X-Men fans will notice or care about.
Speaking of which, there is a post credits stinger. I have a very strong feeling most people will be left scratching their heads, because it is the introduction of a major villain that's going to be involved in the next movie. You can find more information about this mysterious character here.
J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related.