In brief: fifty years in the future, the war against mutants is taking its final toll. A robot army called the Sentinels, designed to adapt to mutant powers, have decimated mutants, and their human allies are also punished. The X-Men are rapidly running out of time and places to hide. Together with their former nemesis Magneto, they send one of their own back into the past to undo the events of that led to the creation of the Sentinels.
There's a lot to recommend about this film, and here are my top five:
1) The fights are spectacular -- Mutants versus sentinels, mutants versus mutants, one mutant versus multiple armed humans... it's all choreographed well, with the special effects blending seamlessly. The only exception is Beast, whose wirework is pretty obvious. Oh well. Fortunately, Quicksilver more than makes up for it. His CMOA (crowning moment of awesome) scene was the most enjoyable in terms of action.
2) Cinematography -- Each timeline gets its own distinctive palette: the dark, grim future; the groovy, brightly-hued seventies; and the (eventual) softly lit, shiny new present. In between, there's no shortage of intense close-ups, epic panning views of grandiose mutant gestures, and sparing but effective use of slow motion.
3) Dialogue -- Lots of wry lines from protagonists got chuckles from the audience. The seventies jokes are pretty priceless, but never distracting.
4) Character development -- These people are heroes, and that's why we love them. A younger Charles grapples with his sense of abandonment, Wolverine acknowledges his limits, Mystique decides her path, and Magneto does what he thinks will secure his people's future. All these protagonists make hard decisions and they do it quickly, which helps tremendously with pacing.
5) Michael Fassbender -- There is one scene where he out-acts ever single person in this film, including Sir Patrick Stewart, who continues to be the best Professor Xavier there could ever possibly be. Fassbender is Magneto. (Sorry, Sir Ian! You will always be Gandalf.)
Speaking of Magneto, may I just say that I admire his ruthless, logical maneuvering in his pursuit of mutant freedom/hegemony. The man is a Magnificent Bastard Problem Solver. Trademark!
As always, X-Men poses philosophical questions. It begins with a voiceover: "Is the future truly set?" Throughout the events of the film, more questions emerge: what is the true cost of sacrificing one life to save others? How can pain and fear help the lost find the path again? What will it truly take to unite humanity?
I highly, highly recommend X-Men: Days of Future Past. It has something for comic book nerds and casual moviegoers alike, because it tells a good story using a familiar and talented cast.
Attention nerds: The easter egg at the end of the credits reveals the next villain. Can't wait for X-Men: Apocalypse. En Sabah Nuuuuuuurrrrr!!!
This post brought to you by Memorial Day weekend!