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'X-Men: Days of Future Past' review: Flies over other superhero flicks with sharp writing, cast

Peter Dinklage, right, in "X-Men: Days of Future

Peter Dinklage, right, in "X-Men: Days of Future Past." Credit: AP / Alan Markfield

In "X-Men: Days of Future Past," a mutant race must prevent its extinction by traveling back in time to 1973. Cultural landmarks like Vietnam and the Watergate hearings play a part in "X-Men," but there's a more important reason the filmmakers chose that year: The leather jackets back then were awesome.

For all its sociopolitical smarts and coded subtexts, the "X-Men" franchise, based on the Marvel comics, is primarily about entertainment, and this seventh installment is no different. It's a winning combination of wham-pow action and some truly enviable thrift-store fashion. For fans and nonfans alike, the sight of Hugh Jackman wearing tight jeans and a saucer-sized belt buckle, or of Jennifer Lawrence dressed like a member of Fleetwood Mac, will be worth the price of admission.

An opening setup involving the genocidal Sentinel robots sets a doomy tone, but the fun starts when Jackman, as the mutant Wolverine, wakes on a water bed next to a lava lamp and last night's conquest. He's been sent here by the time-shifting Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) to stop Raven (Lawrence) from igniting a future war by killing the Sentinels' inventor, Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage in a poop-brown suit with hair to match). But Wolverine must first persuade two enemies, Charles Xavier (James McAvoy and Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender and Ian McKellan), to work together for a common good.

Though somewhat scattered and overstuffed -- Nicholas Hoult as Beast is front and center, but Halle Berry, Anna Paquin and other notables get short shrift -- "X-Men" benefits from a consistently sharp script by Simon Kinberg and the energetic direction of franchise veteran Bryan Singer. He uses Lawrence for maximum potential, dressing her shape-shifting Raven as everything from a military commando to a femme fatale, though the movie's best set piece is a prison break spearheaded by Quicksilver (Evan Peters), who moves so fast he can rearrange bullets in midair.

It all gets a little illogical and confusing, at least to those without the comics at their bedside. Still, "X-Men: Days of Future Past" is fast-paced and cleverly executed, not to mention enviably dressed.

PLOT The mutant Wolverine travels into  the past to prevent the start of a genocidal war.

CAST Hugh Jackman, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult
BOTTOM LINE A nifty plot, dazzling action and some enviable 1970s jackets make this superhero movie stand  out from the pack.

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