Before The Avengers took over, The X-Men pretty much invented the superhero movie as a team sport. Their position in the league has slipped since Iron Man and co. But this one shows the X-Men still play a good mental game, one more suited for grown-ups who like their superpowered characters rubbing up against history and the real world, rather than just using it as a battlefield.

It's certainly a good X-Men movie, one which franchise fans should find satisfying. However, watching this without having first seen 2011's prequel, X-Men: First Class, may well do your head in with its duplicate characters and double-tracked timeline.

The director of this Bryan Singer started it all off with the fine first X-Men in 2000. His X-Men 2 wasn't bad either. But part three, X-Men: Last Stand felt like way too many players had been let on to the pitch.

The two Wolverine offshoots have been patchy. But the aforementioned excellent First Class took the team back to its 1960s Cold War origins and told of how the young Mutants and got their first leather jumpsuits - and how Professor X and Magneto fell out and became the Gandhi and Genghis Khan of the growing Mutant conflict with humankind.

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It was fun and thrilling, though it did have a pretty ropy ending involving the Cuban Missile crisis. Here it's mucking about with history again. The assassination of JFK figures briefly, then the action heads to the Vietnam War, the Paris Peace Accords of 1973 and goes on to make a mess of Nixon's White House.

But it all starts as the team from the original trilogy find themselves in a near-future robo-apocalypse. They figure contacting some of their earlier selves back in the past will be the only way to fix the future.

View the trailer for X-Men: Days of Future Past here:

Because he's so tough and looks good naked - Jackman's butt isn't the film's only Terminator steal - Wolverine gets to head back in time to a period when those sideburns of his make sense.

His mission involving the younger Prof X/Charles Xavier (McAvoy) and Magneto (Fassbender) means there's not a lot for the old team to do but try to hold off the incoming Sentinels - the killer droids who had their version 1.0 back in 1973 when Dr Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage) came up with his first mutant-sniffing bots.

The action concentrates on the elusive chameleonic Mystique, who is on her own mission with Xavier, Magneto and Wolverine in pursuit.

It does bounce back and forth a bit between the two teams with the usual logic leaps than come with time-travel scenarios. But it's got some new excitement, like the show-stealing turn by Quicksilver (Evan Peters) a character whose too-short time here has to do with his transfer to Team Avengers for their next season.

Otherwise, it sure helps that the film is largely powered by the four main X-Men characters - Jackman's pre-adamantium Wolverine feels nicely refreshed by the time warp, Lawrence proves again that blue really is her colour and McAvoy and Fassbender are much more compelling in their younger guises than the two old hams they become.

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Cast:

Hugh Jackman Jennifer Lawrence, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Peter Dinklage.

Director:

Bryan Singer

Rating:

M (violence and offensive language)

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Running time:

131 mins

Verdict:

The X-Men revival continues nicely

- TimeOut