The X-Men franchise had already used up its acceptable number of conventional sequels, making its last stand, so to speak.
It had spun off characters — how many movies can Wolverine make? — and had finally resorted to a prequel, 2011’s “X-Men: First Class.”
All those prior X-Men films left but one option remaining: time travel. Welcome to “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” which sounds like a James Bond title and plays a lot like a “Terminator” sequel, but with superheroes.
The action is non-stop, the special effects are good, and this is quite possibly the best cast of serious actors ever assembled for a superhero project; yet “Days of Future Past” feels stale and doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
The film opens in a war-ravaged 2023. Super-powered killer robots called Sentinels are eliminating all mutants, and devastating humanity along the way.
The only option to save our race is to have Ellen Page’s mutant Kitty Pryde send Wolverine’s (Hugh Jackman) consciousness back into his body 50 years earlier to try to change things.
Most of the film takes place in 1973, involving cast members from “First Class.” Wolverine’s task is to bring together young Professor X (James McAvoy) and young Magneto (Michael Fassbender) so they can convince blue-tinged young Mystique/Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) not to kill scientist Bolivar Trask (“Game of Thrones’” Peter Dinklage).
Trask is the Skynet of this movie — the developer of the Sentinel program, whose death will launch a paranoid response from the Nixon administration and cause the downfall of us all.
The film’s set pieces are pretty good, with the highlight being a break-in at the Pentagon that utilizes the talents of the speedy Quicksilver (Evan Peters) in clever ways. Quicksilver, unfortunately, disappears for the rest of the movie … or maybe he’s just moving so fast that we can’t see him.