Plaudits must go to director Brian Singer, who started the X-Men series and makes a triumphant return with the new superhero adventure sequel.
X-Men: First Class put life into the flagging franchise three years ago, featuring younger versions of established characters (James McAvoy as Professor X, Michael Fassbender as Magneto and Jennifer Lawrence as blue-hued shape-shifter Mystique).
Now Singer ups the ante with X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST (12: Twentieth Century Fox), an ambitious time-spanning tale that puts the original stars – Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Hugh Jackman – alongside their younger counterparts.
Wolverine (Jackman) is sent back to 1973 by old sparring partners Professor X and Magneto to save the future from mechanoid mutant killers called Sentinels.
That means convincing drug-addled, and now powerless, Xavier (McAvoy) to bury the hatchet with Magneto, who’s languishing in a vault beneath the Pentagon.
Cue a Mission Impossiblestyle rescue that introduces mutant speedster Quicksilver.
The compelling cast make the movie more than just a noisy action-fest and this rip-roaring recalibration of past and current X-teams should provide these characters with a bright new future.
> Musical biopic JERSEY BOYS (15: Warner) takes the hit show about 1950s and ’60s singers Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons from stage to screen. But Clint Eastwood is not the kind of director to fall for glitz and glamour while telling their story.
He’s more at home on the mean streets of New Jersey where Valli (John Lloyd Young, who played the role on Broadway) and wise-guy pal Tommy (Vincent Piazza) are caught between a life of crime and chart-topping greatness.
Christopher Walken is a real hoot as the mob boss who sets them off on the path to glory, but it’s squeaky clean outsider Bob Gaudio (Erich Bergen) who writes the group’s infectious jukebox classics like Sherry, Big Girls Don’t Cry and Oh, What A Night.
Eastwood’s rough and ready style makes for solid entertainment, even though he doesn’t fully flesh out the personal conflicts that threaten to split the band.
> A long-suffering woman endures the worst day of her life when she loses her job, wrecks her car and discovers her husband’s affair in the comedy TAMMY (15: Warner).
It sounds promising for the viewer, but this freewheeling road movie is sadly lacking in drive, rhythm or laughs. Although Melissa McCarthy’s Tammy is likeably brash as she runs over a deer on her way to work, before lashing out at her boss and cheating husband, the gags don’t have the killer blow you might expect.
Susan Sarandon is great as the hard-drinking grandmother Tammy accompanies on a disaster-strewn trip to Niagara Falls, but Mark Duplass, Toni Collette and Kathy Bates are wasted in their supporting roles. The banter is only mildly amusing, which makes this particular road feel too long and winding.
> BOYHOOD (15: Universal) is an extraordinary, uplifting film tracking the life of a young American boy (Ellar Coltrane) up to the age of 18.
The story is told not through births, marriages and deaths but the moments in between, punctuated by cultural milestones like midnight Harry Potter book launches, the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the wave of optimism that swept Obama to his first presidental term.