Let's all pretend for a second that we're not a tad exhausted with X-Men films. Out of all the Marvel comic book characters, The Uncanny X-Men was the series that I got into the most as a kid. I knew all the main characters and probably half of the 100 or so secondary characters. I loved them for the action and appreciated the allegory for Civil Rights as I got older. But even I have my limits and Fox has squeezed so much blood from the franchise that even vampires are saying "okay, enough is enough."
Imagine that X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men Origins: Wolverine and The Wolverine didn't happen. If you take those three terrible films out of the canon you're left with a film series that has been stellar. Days of Future Past acts as a sequel and prequel to all of them but primarily the good ones that are left, X-Men, X2: X-Men United and X-Men: First Class, which I regard as one of the best superhero films ever made. This is based on a storyline in the comic books that came out in the early '80s and is regarded as one of the best comic books ever made (although they tweaked it to accomodate which stars were more box office bait). The film recognizes the gravity of that and does a damn good job of living up to the legend.
One of the most impressive things about it is that director Bryan Singer (the first two X-Men films, Superman Returns) convinced the entire cast of the original films and from First Class to return and star in Days of Future Past, which takes place in the 1970s and the 2020s. That cast consists of Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Jennifer Lawerence, Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy. It also features cameo performances from almost anyone who's ever played a mutant in any of the better films. Simply pulling that off is impressive enough.
Since the movie involves time travel and alternate futures it might challenge some of the more passive viewers but I was impressed at how unconfusing they laid it all out. The script is smart, witty and exciting. The action sequences are some of the more impressive in the entire X-Men series, including one with a soon-to-be fan favorite Quicksilver that has one of the funniest and coolest scenes I've seen from any superhero movie ever. The unfortunate part is that these moments of violent eye candy are too far apart.
Days of Future Past has a runtime of over two hours and is book-ended by awesomeness. The middle of the film slows down to a near crawl and actually gets a little boring at times. For some reason, First Class kept my attention the entire time despite being an entirely new cast from what we've seen. I can only credit that to Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass, Layer Cake), who is a much better director than Singer. I know that it was only fair that the man who started the series (and some could argue the reign of the comic book movie) 13 years ago be the one that's allowed to finish it. Singer does a fine job and Days of Future Past is a great film; it just makes me wish I could get Kitty Pryde to send me back in time so I could get Vaughn to direct this instead.