Before the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the greatest continuity-driven comic book series were the X-movies. 14 years ago, the first X-Men came out. It predates even Spider-Man! The film still holds up well today, but it's the sequel which a lot call the best X-film and one of the greatest comic book movies overall. The Last Stand however is often regarded as the worst of the bunch. While I personally think it's very enjoyable, it does feature some questionable things. The killing of Cyclops and the weakened Phoenix were pretty awful decisions. We wouldn't get another X-film until 4 years later, in the form of X-Men Origins: Wolverine. (Which many people thought was worst than X3.) It wasn't until 2011 when First Class came out that the film series started to gain great momentum from the comic book community once again. Just last year saw the release The Wolverine, whose ending led straight into the title film. Days of Future Past shares its name with what is known as one of the greatest X-Men stories of all time, so it had a lot to live up to. It is definitely one of the best X-films yet. Not only is it well-written, but director Bryan Singer in just 2 hours and 11 minutes takes the X-Men universe right where it should be.
Like the comic, the film is set in the future where mutants are being hunted by robots called Sentinels. In order to stop this war from ever happening, Professor Charles Xavier sends Wolverine back into the past to change the future. The story starts out very fast, and very confusing if you haven't read the comic or seen the previous films for that matter. In fact, it is essential to have the seen all the main X-films to fully grasp and appreciate what's happening here. The future is established as bleak and depressing, but with a glimmer of hope. The characters are all established nicely. It is however a shame that such a major character like Bishop is seen for so little time only referenced by name once. Most of the film however takes place in the past.
A complaint a lot of comics fans had with the trilogy is that Wolverine was the main focus and the X-Men almost costars. This is true, characters like Cyclops and Storm were regulated to almost background status in those films so the spotlight could be on Logan. While he is of course a major focus here, the film does an excellent job utilizing the whole cast. Michael Fassbender reprises his role from First Class as the Master of Magnetism. Just like in the aforementioned film, he is very big highlight. While it's always great to see Ian McKellen's take on the character, this younger version is fantastic and easily an Oscar winner. James McAvoy returns as the younger Professor X. Unlike his self in First Class, the film portrays him as a broken, given-up-on-life man. He was good then, and he still is good. Jennifer Lawrence returns also First Class as Mystique. She had a considerable amount of screen time in the original trilogy and First Class, so it's natural that she has a pretty substantial role here. There's not much too complain about, though she isn't quite as engaging as Rebecca Romijin's portrayal from the trilogy.
Hugh Jackman of course does another great Wolverine. Like Downey Jr.'s Iron Man, he's become so much the character that it's hard to picture someone else in the role. While I didn't like Nicholas Hoult's portrayal of Hank McCoy/Beast in First Class, he's pretty solid here, a major improvement. A controversy surrounding the film was the inclusion of Quicksilver. (Evan Peters.) Next year's Avengers: Age of Ultron will be including him also, so fans saw his inclusion as a bit of laugh from Fox to Marvel. Not only that, many people weren't thrilled with his design. Surprisingly, he ended up actually being a highlight and had one of the most memorable scenes in the entire film. It's sad that he couldn't come with Charles and Logan, because as you'll see later there's a scene where his speed would have been perfect. In fact, it's surprising they didn't ask for his help after breaking Erik out of prison.
This is a very different kind of comic book film. There's not really an official "main antagonist." Both Trask and Magneto can be called the villains, also the Sentinels. Trask (Peter Dinklage) was pretty well established. The Sentinels were one of the most hyped things in the entire movie. They don't disappoint power and portrayal wise. However, they are quite different than the ones we're used to seeing in the comics. Instead of being giant robots, they're more Hulk-size and have the ability to adapt. Not only that, but they can open up their heads and shoot a powerful beam. (An attack that is strikingly similar to the Destroyer's in Thor.) While it would have been nice to see the more classic-looking Sentinels, these bots don't disappoint. While there's a lot of fast paced action, there isn't a whole lot of fight scenes like we're used to seeing in these movies. Because of that, there's no really standout action scene. The greatest scenes include Magneto using the outer edges of a baseball stadium to enclose the White House. The soundtrack is fantastic, by far the greatest from any X-Men film and one of the stronger comic book movie soundtracks.
Days of Future Past is a very good watch with little holding it back. Almost all the performances are excellent, namely Fassbender's Magneto and of course Hugh Jackman's Wolverine. The film is very story based with little fight scenes. If the writing wasn't this good, that'd be a problem. The after-credits scene could use a little work, since anyone who hasn't read a comic isn't going to recognize the character in question. (They should have implanted the letter A somewhere.) Still, the film has many standout scenes that are accompanied by a spectacular soundtrack. By the end, the X-Men universe is back where it should be.