May 23, 2014 at 1:00 am

Tom Long

Review: Special effects, superpowers fill up 'X-Men: Days of Future Past'

Michael Fassbender, left, stars as a young Magneto and Nicholas Hoult plays a young Beast in the Marvel comic-book inspired sci-fi action film 'X-Men: Days of Future Past.' (Alan Markfield / Twenthieth Century Fox)

It’s easy to imagine over the next few weeks there will be spirited arguments in comic book stores, on Internet sites and wherever geeks gather as to whether “X-Men: Days of Future Past” makes sense.

Let’s put that to rest right now.

This is a movie about time travel. It features one guy covered in blue fur, another who sprouts long talons on command and a hot babe who can change her appearance at will. There’s another woman who can command the weather, a guy who can bend metal with his mind and a human Popsicle.

Needless to say, “Days of Future Past” does not read like a documentary. Sense is not an overriding concern.

What it does read like, however, is a special-effects-saturated, good-humored, action-stuffed summer movie spectacle filled with colorful fantasy characters doing on-screen magic tricks in the service of escapist entertainment.

Whether the internal logic of the X-Men franchise is strictly adhered to in this decades-spanning saga, only the most devout fan will be able to say. The rest will probably stick with, “Wow, that was cool.”

Cool but a bit confusing. The film starts out in some grim future where mutants and humans alike have been conquered by giant robots initially designed by one Dr. Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) to quell a potential mutant rebellion. Which brings up a question — who names their kid Bolivar?

Never mind. Still battling, and losing to, these robots are a core group of mutants from the initial X-Men franchise — Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart), Magneto (Ian McKellen), Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), Iceman (Shawn Ashmore), Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page), Storm (Halle Berry) and assorted others.

It’s decided that Kitty Pryde should send someone back through time to stop the creation of the robots. Since he’s invulnerable and he’s had two movies on his own, Wolverine gets the call.

He’s going back to the ’70s — lots of good jokes to be had there — to convince then-enemies Xavier and Magneto to help keep Trask from getting his hand on the DNA of the shape-shifting Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), which is the secret ingredient that makes the robots so powerful.

Got that? It doesn’t really matter. Director Bryan Singer, working off Simon Kinberg’s mad pretzel of a screenplay, focuses on action-action-action with a steady undercurrent of humor. The members of the original franchise all stay in the dark future, worrying and preparing to make a last stand while most of the film involves Wolverine and the younger members of the 2011 prequel, “X-Men: First Class.”

These include the young professor (James McAvoy), young Magneto (Michael Fassbender) and the young Beast (Nicholas Hoult). Together they invade the Pentagon, go to the Paris Peace talks that ended the Vietnam War and meet Richard Nixon.

They also meet up with Quicksilver (Evan Peters) for the Pentagon job and why this character — who can slow time down — doesn’t stay around for the whole movie is a major question. He offers dazzling special effects opportunities and lots of cheekiness. Dear Marvel, please bring him back immediately.

There are other problems. The earlier characters, aside from Mystique, still aren’t as strong as the original fun bunch. The grand metaphor of mutant minority otherness status is wearing thin. And this is the sixth Wolverine-driven film since 2000: He’s been overused.

But it’s doubtful fans will care. The fireworks, the super-power circus, lots of surprise cameos and Big Moments — “X-Men: Days of Future Past” has them all. Logic? Who cares?

'X-Men: Days of Future Past'


Rated PG- 13 for sequences of intense sci-fi violence and action, some suggestive material, nudity and language

Running time: 131 minutes

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