Picks of the week
of Future Past’
(PG-13, 131 minutes.) The new X-Men film centers on the efforts of the mutant superhero Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) to forestall World War III by traveling back in time – from the 2020s to the 1970s – to stop the assassination of an industrialist that leads to our dystopian future.
Discovering that one of their number (Ellen Page’s Kitty) has developed the ability to send people back in time, the X-Men’s elder statesmen – Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and his perennial frenemy, Magneto (Ian McKellen) – elect to rewrite history in the hope that it will change the present.
The plot, drawn from two issues of “The Uncanny X-Men” comic book series from 1980, is as intoxicating as a shot of adrenaline. The film takes place in 1973, on the eve of the Paris Peace Accords that ended the Vietnam War, and 50 years hence, when the world of tomorrow has become embroiled in another battle, this time between giant robots and human mutants.
Contains violence, crude language, suggestive material and brief nudity.
‘Mr. Peabody & Sherman’
(PG, 82 minutes, DreamWorks/Fox.) The animated feature about a time-traveling dog with a genius IQ (voiced by Ty Burrell) and his human companion has even more than the recommended daily allowance of scatological humor and B.O. jokes for the average 8-year-old.
Anyone much older than that – and certainly anyone who remembers the cartoons on which the film is based, which ran as segments accompanying Jay Ward’s Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons – is in for a big disappointment. Despite an updated CGI animation style, the movie has all the superficial attributes of the 1959-64 series but none of the charm.
Contains mild action and rude humor.
Venus in Fur
(Unrated, 96 minutes, MPI Home Video.) From the moment this French film opens with a long tracking shot, cruising down a tree-lined boulevard on a rainy Paris day, until its final darkly comic set piece, it’s clear that we’re in the capable hands of director Roman Polanski.
Adapted from the Tony-winning Broadway play, the film version is masterfully done in a way that does justice to its source material. Polanski’s wife, Emmanuelle Seigner, is dazzling as aspiring actress Vanda; she plays the wide-eyed airhead well, but as soon as she’s inhabiting the role for which she is auditioning, she’s a dominating force. Her foil is the play’s director, Thomas (Mathieu Amalric).
Contains nudity and crude language.