Patrick Dane writes for Bleeding Cool.
When X-Men: First Class proved to be an incredibly surprising prequel to the X-Men series, it perhaps could have seemed a little counter intuitive to announce Days of Future Past. While an incredibly complex and interesting storyline, it could have easily ruined the good will generated by the new cast in First Class by shackling them to the ever convoluted 'present day' continuity.
In truth, X-Men: Days of Future Past ends up being a triumph for several reasons. This is Bryan Singer at mostly his best and it is also the strongest entry in the franchise since X2. Yes, it is at least as good, if not a smidgen better than First Class. Considering the amount of plates spinning at the same time during the films 130 minute run time, that is pretty remarkable.
Now, that isn't to say that that the movie is always satisfying. Most of the time spent in the future can be a little jarring. Despite two instances, the cast of the original X-men movies don't have too much to do instead of standing around looking worried, saying grandiose things. The most egregious offender of this is when Patrick Stewart is tasked with a black of exposition setting up what happened in the future to a whole room of people who should know full well what had happened to their world. In fact, that kind of dialogue does end up becoming 'par for the course' as it can sometimes feel like, both in the past and the future, that these characters are just making grandiose statements about belonging and loss at each other.
The films also sports a somewhat lackluster first act, that is full of exposition about the future, where everyone had been and the rules of the time travel that will feature. At times it feels like a slog to get everyone where they need to be. Although once that is all figured out, X-Men: Days of Future Past is like a runaway train, ever gaining momentum as it races along.
Obviously, the movie is dealing with a huge cast, meaning that many of the previous characters are going to get the short graft. This is a story largely about the younger versions of Charles Xavier, Magneto, Wolverine and Mystique (with a surprisingly substantial role for Nicholas Hoult's Beast). While most of the cast outside of that at least have a little bit of time to stretch their wings, don't expect to be spending extended amount of time with Storm, Kitty Pryde or even the older versions Charles Xavier and Magneto.
While the film can take a little while to come together as an emotionally resonant story, it is held together by a collection of incredibly strong scenes. The best example of this, coming in the first half of the movie is Quicksilver's set-piece. The character had come under pretty heavy scrutiny in the advertising build-up due to his wackado appearance and the gauntlet it threw down to Marvel Studios, who will also be using the character in the Avengers 2: Age of Ultron. In truth, his scenes are fundamentally pointless to the overall narrative, but that doesn't mean it isn't one of Singer's best action scenes since Nightcrawler's White House infiltration in X2. He isn't a movie stealer, but he is absolutely a scene stealer. The ball is firmly in Marvel's court on that front.
These kinds of gratifying scenes help build the narrative with a sense of fun for a large part of the movie, but it isn't until towards the stellar conclusion that the films emotional core comes together. Not only is the scale of the finale awesome eye candy, it has serious implications about these characters, their world and the X-men franchise as a whole. In the end, Days of Future Past respects what came before it, but ultimately acts as a whole reboot of this world, streamlining the continuity of these movies that were never designed to work as a whole together in the first place.
X-Men: Days of Future Past could have been a total disaster. In truth, a certain sect of fans may have even been hoping that it would. Instead, X-Men: Days of Future Past completely rejuvenates the franchise in unique and exciting ways and should have everyone excited about what is coming in the future. While it can be absurdly silly at times, it is often gratifying and stands shoulder to shoulder with the best that X-Men movies offer. This is the 'reboot' and streamlining that X-Men needed, while also being a great standalone adventure. While the deeper context of the movie is not as strong as X2, it feels like the perfect end of a complicated chapter. Now, just to see what comes next in X-Men: Apocalypse.
Oh, and a little on that post credit scene. MAJOR SPOILERS so stop reading if you want to go in blind. There was some confusion amongst us as to what we saw initially. After some deliberation and mining of his Wikipedia page, we decided that the figure you see is a young Apoclapyse. You will perhaps understand our confusion as the figure appears quite feminine and fair, both characteristics you wouldn't have expected from the 5,000 year old mutant. You'll see huge parts of the pyramids floating around and being constructed as a horde of people bow and chant "En Sabah Nur". As the camera swings around to focus on the figure, you'll see four horse men standing out of focus in the background. Cut to black. And now the super hero disaster movie that Simon Kinberg has been talking about is set up. I'm now very much looking forward to it.