THE BLOG
05/22/2014 07:00 am ET Updated Jul 22, 2014

Week in Film: X-Men, Love Punch, Words and Pictures

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If you're keeping score at home, of the three Marvel comic-book movies so far this summer (a term I use advisedly for a season that technically doesn't start for another month), X-Men: Days of Future Past outranks Amazing Spider-Man 2 and is about on a par with Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Except that the problem with Captain America was the opposite of the problems of this new X-Men. Where Captain America offered 90 minutes of running in place before reaching its exciting final half-hour, X-Men jets along nicely for its first hour and a half, then lumbers to a finish during the last 30 minutes. Unlike X-Men: First Class, there is little humor and fewer surprises in this time-travel tale about saving the future.

That's where this story begins: a dystopic future, in which Professor X (Patrick Stewart), Magneto (Ian McKellen), Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and others are hiding out from an attack by robot sentinels that are about to destroy all mutants (and humans). Their only hope is to send Wolverine back to the early 1970s to stop the scientist (Peter Dinklage) who invents them for the Nixon administration. Once he's back there, he must convince then-enemies Professor X (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) to team up and change the future.

The Avengers (and even Bryan singer's first two X-Men movies) found ways to wring humor and pathos out of the various life/death verbal and physical confrontations of which the movies were comprised. This film -- despite strong acting and state-of-the-art special effects -- rarely does. It is never less than competent but also rarely more.

In other words, it's an OK comic-book movie which, like so many of these efforts, has a reach that far exceeds its grasp. It's not bad but it could have been lots better.

Not bad: That's not an inaccurate summary of two other films opening in more limited release on Friday (5/23/14).

This review continues on my website.

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