With Singer back in the fold, many people felt like the series was back in good hands. He comes back after the failed attempt at reviving the Superman franchise and a battle of a fairy tale, Jack The Giant Killer. Those two projects seemed to fail with critics and audiences alike, so Singer is back to the films that made him a household name. I would personally like to see another small scale film like Apt Pupil or The Usual Suspects, but the guy has a visual eye that blends well with the big budget scaled films, so I'll take him here. Singer opens with a well choreographed fight between mutants and their new enemy, the Sentinels. Some neat powers are introduced, such as portals used by a new mutant Blink, which aid in the fight against these mutant killing machines. Once we get passed the explosive opening, we are given the set up, Logan must travel back in time and change the future. Some expository dialogue from Xavier and we are on our way back to the 70's.
Now, for people wanting to know where we are in the X-Men timeline. The past sequences are after the events of First Class, so the rift between Erik and Charles is present, but it is before the events of X-Men Origins, so before Logan has his adamantium. He's stuck with his bone claws here and in a surprising turn of events, we hardly get to see him use them. While a lot of the other films were "Wolverine" heavy, DOFP seems to be more of an ensemble piece, giving equal time to much deserving characters. A new addition, Peter AKA Quicksilver, has the most memorable sequence in the film and his scenes again, show the visual excitement that Singer brings back to the franchise.
In the past, Logan has to convince Xavier to help him, but he has lost the use of his powers due to an experimental drug he uses developed by Hank McCoy (Beast) that gives him the ability to walk again. Xavier is stuck in a depressed isolated place, he's lost his friend Erik, Raven has abandoned him, the school is shut down. He's not in a good place. Logan has to do for him what Xavier did for Logan back in the original films. Help him find his way. McAvoy isn't afraid to let the character, who is almost always calm, cool, collected and smart...with more of an edge. He's lost, he's refusing to acknowledge his power exists. Magneto on the other hand is in prison. People claim he is responsible for the assassination of JFK and they need to bust him out. They still don't see eye to eye and Fassbender brings the angry hostility that a young man with a lot of power would have. He wants to be the superior species whether he is or not. His plan in't the same as Logans/Xavier's and the conflict arises.
Back in the future, Patrick Stewart, Ian Mckellen, Halle Berry, Ellen Page and others are given nothing to do but basically wait. Time is running out for them as Sentinels close in. They try their best to fend them off, but their screen time is a little too short for us to fully invest. Singer relies heavily on previous films for us to care. Most of the conflict is in the 70's. Which look like a far out time to live in. Lava lamps, Vietnam, Nixon, etc. The world Singer creates feels real enough and he follows in the footsteps of First Class director Matthew Vaughn in having mutants be responsible are involved in our real human history. This is a nice touch that pulls the audience in, gives us something more to chew on.
As dark as the film is, Singer has just the right amount of light comedy to remind us that we are watching a comic book film. A wink and a nod here and there are welcomed, especially those who are fans of the comics and know certain character relations. DOFP is exciting, thrilling and one hell of a ride. I'd place this entry up there with X-2. It tries to mend the broken bones that was left behind from Ratner and his Last Stand, which was a poorly written, visual disaster. Yet DOFP falters in some areas, mostly in the continuity round.
First Class screwed up a lot in the continuity department with the other films. Certain character relationships, history, plot, etc. Last Stand screwed things up with unemotional character deaths and juggling of two awesome stand alone story lines into one big mess. DOFP doesn't feel like it has to answer some important questions. Like, how does Wolverine has adamantium claws in the future, who know from the events of The Wolverine he doesn't. How does Xavier still have his body? he transferred consciousness in the end of Last Stand. Who built cerebro? Two conflicting answers. Why does Logan have white hair when he "doesn't age" but everyone else looks the exact same age. Some interesting things I thought to myself was when Logan goes back in time, Xavier is depressed...he hasn't changed the past yet, so what was it that originally brought him out of his funk to form the x-men? Why is his relationship with Mystique so important now, but never mentioned in the other films? Chalk this up to oversight when the originals were made, but it would still be nice to see them correct this mess in the film.
It seems they wanted to hit a big RESET button, which they did, but I still have my questions, questions I feel will never be answered, but that's just the film student comic geek in me talking. DOFP is THE summer blockbuster of this year and one helluva good time.