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Special effects extravaganza

X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST: Hugh Jackman, Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Jennifer Lawrence. Directed by Bryan Singer. 131 minutes. Rated M (Science fiction themes, violence and infrequent coarse language).

Reviewed by Kurt Jensen

TIME travel meets a gleefully loopy version of American history in X-Men: Days of Future Past.

There are many surreal moments – Jennifer Lawrence as cerulean shape-shifter Raven/Mystique in a showdown with Richard Nixon, for one – but also some thoughtful moral commentary on whether it’s a good idea to alter the path of history or accept an immutable destiny.

Historical shambles: Adan Canto, Ellen Page, Shawn Ashmore and Daniel Cudmore star in a scene from the movie X-Men: Days of Future Past. Photo: CNS/Fox

Historical shambles: Adan Canto, Ellen Page, Shawn Ashmore and Daniel Cudmore star in a scene from the movie X-Men: Days of Future Past.
Photo: CNS/Fox

The plot, loaded with the kinetic action sequences familiar from the first six films in the series, is quite simple.

It’s 2023 and the planet has been devastated by the Sentinels, fire-breathing robots first unleashed – for American defence – 50 years earlier.

As doom descends on the mutants, known collectively as X-Men, the elderly versions of Dr Charles Xavier and Magneto (Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen) argue about the need to rewrite history.

Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) has the ability to send someone’s consciousness back in time, so she sends the most indestructible among them, Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) to 1973 so he can intercept Raven/Mystique before she assassinates the Sentinels’ inventor, Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage).

It was after that event that the blue girl was captured and her DNA replicated to make the Sentinels virtually indestructible.

If Trask lives, though, he’ll be imprisoned and the nascent Sentinel program will go away.

Wolverine also grabs the younger Magneto (Michael Fassbender), who is being held in a secret underground prison at the Pentagon after being wrongfully implicated in the assassination of President Kennedy.

He’s helped by a new character, Quicksilver (Evan Peters), who escapes every jam with his super-high speed.

Discussions about how a single event changes the future mingle with arguments between the younger Xavier (James McAvoy) and Magneto about how best to deal with Raven/Mystique. Director Brian Singer and screenwriters Simon Kinberg and Jane Goldman eventually surrender existential angst to the plethora of special effects, including a flying stadium.

Kurt Jensen is a columnist for Catholic News Service.

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