Well, before commenting on the new film, I feel I should state my thoughts on the previous films to set a context. I grew up being blown away by the Byrne/Claremont X-men run and was a huge X-fan until the line became so diluted and anemic, I finally dropped the whole thing, only occasionally dipping back (Whedon & Cassaday's run kicked major bum though).
I thought the first X-Men film was good but very restrained, it made these characters acceptable to a mainstream audience while remaining faithful to the characters but it never felt quite right. The second film was a lot better, more confident and with an easier atmosphere and unlike some, I actually didn't mind the action-packed third instalment, despite the odd concern here and there.
For me then, the new film pretty much blows them out of the water. By featuring a narrative based around a single character rather than having to juggle a number of teams, the film has a stronger emotional narrative as it ties together elements of the Wolverine: Origin (proving Quesada's decision to provide an origin for Logan before the movies did to be right), Larry Hama's Wolverine and Morrison's X-Men issues into a linear plot. Much of the period scenes are over with the adrenalin-charged title sequence but lead into a much better photographed film than the earlier trilogy. Gone is the sterile leather and shiny steel look, replaced with a richer palette and some stunning scenery. The majority of the effects are great (except for The Blob) and while the climax descends into CGI a tad too blatantly, you forgive this as you are so invested in the title character by then.
While remaining largely bloodless, we finally get to see Wolverine in all his rage-fuelled berserker fights and Jackman's pretty impressive in these scenes. Sabretooth is a much better threat than expected (the dodgy animalistic pouncing seen in the trailer recut to be less goofy, and pretty impressive in the Scott Summers chase), Gambit is great (no dodgy accent but as cool as the ragin' Cajun should be), Silver Fox is surprisingly sympathetic (she seemed a bitch in the comics) and there's a ton of mutant cameos (and Storm was dropped, hoorah!!). I have to admit, I had to wikipedia some of the characters when I got home but it's largely irrelevant as you go along with the flow. Danny Huston was also a revelation as the younger William Stryker.
On the other hand, I was quite shocked to see a character obviously intended as a Heather Hudson substitute actually WAS Heather, yet no Mac? I was even more disturbed to see a former Neighbours cast member starring as Wolverine's dad!
Overall, a pretty good action-packed action movie with a strong emotional core...there are two post credit scenes, neither really adding anything. The first is a few seconds into the credits and the last one is right at the end and believe me, it's so pointless as to not be worth the wait (no twist, cameo or plot development).
Roll on the Japanese-based sequel!