Whenever you're making a movie (or two or three...or more) based on an already established comic universe, it seems easy to do: there's a whole mythology to draw from; the question always is how to narrow it down. This is easier said than done, as we've clearly seen from numerous superhero movie flops. The problem as a series continues is often the oversaturation -- too many heroes (one of X-Men: Last Stand's many many...many many many flaws), too many villains (Spiderman 3 suffered from this), too many agendas. X-Men: Days of Future Past is as much a mouthful as its title. It not only tries to do service to X-Men favorites, but now we have double of some of them -- a past and present Professor Xavier, a past and present Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto.
This, unfortunately and perhaps inevitably, leads to a dilution of characters. Some are relegated to mere seconds of screen time and rarely do we get more than a cry of a name or a flashy sequence of mutant pyrotechnic power (one of these given by a brilliant Fan BingBing who debuts as the flashy and much appreciated mutant Blink -- aptly named). The bromance and chemistry of James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender (as the younger Xavier and Magneto) was the main impetus of First Class and although briefly touched on, it's not given as much time to breathe in this movie.
Days of Future Past starts out in the future, where mutants, mutant-sympathizers, and anyone with the potential to birth a mutant are all being hunted down and annihilated by robots called the Sentinels. In a last ditch attempt, the long in enmity but now reunited Professor X and Magneto decide to send Wolverine's consciousness back in time in order to warn the two in the past and to prevent the event that sets off this domino of events: when Mystique (played by Jennifer Lawrence, who really can do no wrong in my eyes) assassinates the creator of the Sentinels.
Sound a little heady? Time travel is always a sticky theme to circumnavigate in this movie and nearly impossible to do so without some gaping plotholes. Days of Future Past doesn't quite make it free of some rather glaring contradictions, but the movie overall feels more like a gallivant and a reason to geek out over combining the two original casts.
One of the best performances involves the new mutant Quiksilver (played to sheer delight by Evan Peters), who gives such a joie de vivre scene that it's a real shame he doesn't stick around throughout the whole movie. Hugh Jackman as Wolverine is the veteran and Singer wisely lets him helm most of the movie, albeit with an uncharacteristic levelheadedness. Jennifer Lawrence also gives a great performance as the sleek Mystique just as she's gaining confidence and her slinky grace but just before she's made the tip to the emotionally bereft and sleekly cold Mystique.
All in all, perhaps Days of Future Past was a little too ambitious, but it at least lacks the uncohesive mess and emotional confusion of Spiderman 3. And how can you fault a movie that brings McAvoy and Patrick Stewart together face to face in one moment, thereby uniting the past and present movie generations?
I leave you with this: