Professor Xavier and Magneto join forces with their older selves in X-Men: Days of Future Past
X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST (12A)
Past and present collide in a hazy blur in a muscular sequel, which ushers Bryan Singer back into the director’s chair for the first time since X-Men 2 in 2003.
Familiar faces and new additions to the mutant fold jostle for attention in Simon Kinberg’s script, which indulges in a spot of time travel to strengthen ties between the X-Men and Wolverine franchises.
Days Of Future Past delivers on the eye-popping spectacle including a breathtaking slow-motion action sequence in which a mutant (Evan Peters), who can move at superhuman speeds, diverts the trajectory of bullets before they reach the intended targets.
There is plenty of soul-searching too for the characters, who must make personal sacrifices for the greater good if the mutant race is to survive a sustained assault by hulking robotic hunters.
In a dystopian 2023, Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and his kin including Magneto (Ian McKellen), Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), Storm (Halle Berry) and Iceman (Shawn Ashmore) stand on the precipice of extinction.
The Sentinel programme, conceived by scientist Dr Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage), has almost wiped out the mutant population and any human sympathisers using an army of highly skilled automatons attuned to mutant DNA.
It’s only a matter of time before the Sentinels track Xavier and the surviving mutants to a mountaintop temple in China and complete the extermination.
One glimmer of hope remains: if Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) can harness her abilities and propel Wolverine’s consciousness back to 1973, they might be able to stop alluring shape-shifter Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from assassinating Trask.
This is the pivotal event which lights the fuse on the Sentinel programme under the administration of President Nixon (Mark Camacho).
While Xavier and co prepare to fight the Sentinels, Wolverine’s consciousness slips back to flare-trousered 1973 where he seeks out young Professor X (James McAvoy), Beast (Nicholas Hoult) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender).
Professor X agrees to divert Mystique from her ill-fated path but the best-laid plans of mice and mutants often go astray and vengeful Magneto senses an opportunity to change the course of history in favour of the super-powered minority.
“Killing one man isn’t enough,” he tells Mystique.
“It never was for you,” she responds coldly.
X-Men: Days Of Future Past is a solid and highly enjoyable chapter that doesn’t get too bogged down in bamboozling science, letting protagonists do the talking with their claws and amazing abilities.
Jackman’s hirsute brawler provides the narrative glue between parallel time frames and he shamelessly panders to fans with some gratuitous nudity.
McAvoy and Fassbender trade physical and verbal blows while Oscar-winner Lawrence performs impressive gymnastic feats in figure-hugging blue make-up that leaves little to the feverish imagination.
The blitzkrieg of slick digital effects melds seamlessly with live action elements, although there are few concessions to the 3D format.
A tantalising end credits teaser hints at what fans can expect from X-Men: Apocalypse in 2016.
POSTMAN PAT: THE MOVIE (U)
The residents of the fictional village of Greendale are sitting on the secret to eternal youth.
Trusty postman Pat Clifton has been doing the rounds with his black and white cat Jess since September 1991 and during those 23 years, he doesn’t appear to have aged a day.
Alas, screenwriters Kim Fuller, Annika Bluhm and Nicole Dubuc don’t appear to have taken a refreshing swig from Greendale’s rejuvenating water supply before they penned the lifeless and shambolic script to Pat’s computer-animated big screen debut.
Postman Pat: The Movie is a shadow of the beloved stop-motion TV series, exploring the poisonous effects of celebrity on the mild-mannered postie when he becomes involved in a televised singing contest.
If the premature closure of West End show I Can’t Sing – The X Factor Musical proved anything, it’s that these talent searches are already garish pantomimes that defy parody.
Fuller, Bluhm and Dubuc disagree and clumsily satirise the format, casually throwing in romance and a hare-brained sci-fi invasion plot to the unappetising mix.
Postman Pat (voiced by Stephen Mangan) is at the heart of village life in the cosy community of Greendale, where he lives in Forge Cottage with his wife Sara (Susan Duerden) and football-mad son Julian (Sandra Teles).
Sara has always dreamt of going to Italy, so when Pat discovers a trip for two is the top prize in the TV reality show You’re The One hosted by Simon Cowbell (Robin Atkin Downes), he prepares to belt out a ballad.
“Think of it as singing in the shower,” Julian tells his father soothingly, “but in front of lots of people... and with your clothes on.”
Against the odds, Pat’s audition charms the usually stony-faced Cowbell.
Within days, Pat has become a nationwide celebrity and he gets caught up in the media hoopla, which takes him far away from his loved ones and his job at the Special Delivery Service (SDS).
In Pat’s absence, SDS efficiency expert Edwin Carbunkle (Peter Woodward) plots to replace all of the human staff with robot doppelgangers.
Meanwhile, the grand final of You’re The One beckons and Pat prepares to compete against teenage singer Josh (Rupert Grint) and his pushy father (David Tennant).
Postman Pat: The Movie is a second-class delivery of a hackneyed plot.
Oddly, the film opens with Cowbell auditioning a blond Irish singer called Ronan, who is voiced by Keating, sings one of his hits and cheekily claims to have some experience “in the business”.
Cowbell dismisses this wannabe and within 20 minutes, we discover Pat also has the same distinctive Dublin-twanged singing voice. Bizarre.
Animation throughout is competent and the handful of gags pitched at snoozing adults, like the screen display of a robotic Jess which reads Faster Pussybot Kill Kill, barely warrant a weary smile.
Pat by name, pat by nature.