A Brief Introduction To The X-Men Film Series

15 10 2015

X-Men: The Last Stand (20th Century Fox - 2006)

I don’t know if you saw my lacklustre, mediocre post on Tuesday (sorry about that, I was pretty tired when I wrote it), but in case you didn’t; all next week (Monday to Sunday) right here on this blog I will be posting the biggest writing project I have undertaken since finishing University. To cut a long story short, it’s an entire week of film reviews, one every day; and to keep it nicely wrapped up altogether it’s going to be all the (current films) in one particular series of films. Now while I could build up the excitement and tension to the eventual reveal, the title of my post pretty much tells you which film series I have decided to review: X-Men. So, before next week’s exciting series begins, I thought I would give you a (hopefully brief) introduction to the X-Men Film Series, along with other little bits of interesting information, but promise to try and not go too deep with explaining what happens in the films themselves, otherwise I have ended up wasting the last 4-5 months writing X-Men film reviews.

The X-Men film series is easily one of cinemas most recognisable film series with currently 7 films released over the last 15 years. Since the release of the first film in 2000, it has become a financial and critical success, and to this day is one of the 15 highest grossing film franchises/series to date having grossed more money than some of the cinemas more recognisable movie franchises including: Terminator, Indiana Jones, Star Trek and Mission Impossible. It is also a series of great critical acclaim with 4 out of 7 films receiving fresh ratings of 81% and higher on Rotten Tomatoes. It is one of the longest running film series this century having not one restart, reboot or remake anywhere in it (unlike other series that come to mind: Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, Fantastic 4, Hulk, James Bond, Terminator and Star Trek), and has turned both growing stars and absolute nobodies into some of the cinemas best known and even household names. X-Men as a series and what it has achieved over the last 15 years is unlike any other in cinema today, and is set to continue with not 1 but 3 films due for release next year, (Deadpool, Gambit and X-Men: Apocalypse) along with a third solo outing for one of its biggest stars in 2017 (third Wolverine film) and even plans for 2 other potential films already underway.

X-Men Comics

The X-Men film series is of course based on the Marvel Comics and characters of the same name. The story of the X-Men follows a super hero team made up of a second caste of humanity known as mutants. While they look the same as Humans, Mutants come with special abilities and powers, and the X-Men are made up of some of these mutants. Life for the X-Men though is a tough one, because while they are a super hero team, fighting dangerous threats and saving humanity on a daily basis, humanity isn’t exactly fond of mutants, and sees them as a threat. From the get go, the X-Men have been a different kind of super-hero team, one that while saves the day like all other super heroes, they have to fight those they try to save, and fight for a future where mutants can be free from persecution. Leading them in this charge is Professor Charles Xavier who fights for a future where both humanity and mutants can live in peace together. A difficult thing to fight for, especially when there are other mutants out there who don’t think this kind of future is possible. In step Magneto, a mutant who can manipulate metal and an old friend of Charles Xavier. While remaining as something of a friend to Xavier here and there, Magneto believes only one species can survive and thus begins the battle between the two. As the series continues, new enemies and threats enter the fold with major villains like Apocalypse, Mister Sinister and Onslaught to name but a few. However, Xavier does not have to face such threats alone and with his team of X-Men including (but not limited too) Cyclops, Jean Grey, Storm, Wolverine, Iceman, Shadowcat, Beast, Rogue, Archangel and many more fight both old and new threats on a weekly basis. That’s basically the general idea.

XFC9

The comic series itself at one point (if not still to this day) was (or still is) America’s bestselling comic series. Created by the combined might of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the comic series originally started back in 1963, but back then was a commercial disaster and by 1970 the series was cancelled. In 1975 the series was resurrected with help from artist Dave Cockrum, Editor-in-Chief Roy Thomas and writer Len Wein. No-one could have seen what would come next as the series became Marvel’s biggest hit. Since then the comic series has gone from strength to strength. During the early 90’s; the X-Men got their own cartoon series on the Fox Network which went on for 5 series between 1992 and 1997. This was then followed up with 2 more separate cartoons in the forms of X-Men: Evolution and Wolverine and the X-Men. The X-Men even got their own video games. While during all this the comics continued to evolve and the X-Men themselves got involved in some of the biggest stories in the Marvel Comics, including being the hosts of the epic ONSLAUGHT Saga, as well as having a war with the Avengers much more recently.

X5

In 1994, 20th Century Fox bought the film rights to produce an X-Men film after seeing the success of the animated series. Spearheaded by producer Lauren Shuler Donner, the first film; simply called X-Men was released in 2000 by new up and coming director Bryan Singer. It starred well know actors like Patrick Stewart (who was struggling to find work at the time thanks to being on Star Trek for so long), Ian McKellen; growing stars like Anna Paquin, James Marsden, Famke Janssen, Rebecca Romijn and Halle Berry, and even hired an absolute nobody (but who is now a household name) to play the iconic role of Wolverine in Hugh Jackman……….the rest as they say is history. Over the course of the following 14 years, new actors would be appointed, following the previous formula of well-known stars (Kelsey Grammer, Brian Cox, Kevin Bacon) as well as new growing stars (Ellen Page, Peter Dinklage, Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Nicholas Hoult) as well as people who were at the time relative unknowns but are now household names (Jennifer Lawrence). Along with them came new characters and stories famous within the comics, plus of course new villains. Origins stories were told, time travelled, new weapons and machines created, plus the never-ending fight for freedom from a world that hates them. The comics quite literally came to life and through its unique perspective and style of storytelling produced one of the most entertaining, emotional, powerful, dramatic and even realistic film series to date.

TW1

The X-Men have come a long way since their first appearances on comic book shelves back in the 1960’s. There have been ups and downs along the way, successes, failures and have even branched out into other forms of media, from Cartoons to Video Games, to of course the big screen. Since making that big leap, it has become one of the highest achieving and most recognisable film series to date and with the series set to continue; the future for the X-Men looks Fantastic.

GENEPOOL (I hope you have enjoyed reading this and enjoy reading my reviews next week as much as I have enjoyed writing this and them too).

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How/Where/When Do I Start?

16 09 2015

X-Men/Avengers: Onslaught Omnibus book

After nearly 3 months since ordering it, a few weeks ago I finally received my copy of X-Men/Avengers: Onslaught Omnibus through the post. I have been looking forward to its arrival for a long time now, but my search for such a book began several months before then.

Onslaught

I have known about the X-Men comics character of Onslaught for a long time now, but I never really looked into him before, although I have always been fascinated about him. So I looked up his character and history in the comics on Wikipedia, and I was amazed at what this single character was capable of. After reading the synopsis of the story, I knew I wanted to read the comic story and looked around online for it. All I could find was a collection of 4 books (X-Men: Onslaught – The Complete Epic) showing the whole series. I wanted to buy them, but finding all 4 books proved tricky. So I left it for the time being but I kept looking back in the hope that something might happen. I discovered that there were some other comics more readily available which chronicled the road to the whole Onslaught saga, but still no real sign of those saga books.

X-Men: The Road to Onslaught, Vol. 1 (Marvel - 2014)

Eventually though I discovered a full book was due for release soon. I looked it up and checked it rather a lot for price, plus to make sure it was the same story. It was, and so after nearly more than a month of eyeing it online, I put my order in for it, and now it has arrived and is sitting on my shelves waiting to be read. I knew when I ordered it, that it was a big book at over a thousand pages; however I completely underestimated at how big it was going to be. It arrived in a big box, and was thinking that once again the supplier (like many on Amazon) provided a big box, but the item inside is only a third of the size or something. Well it wasn’t. It was very big but also rather heavy. When I put it on the shelves alongside my other big books, while it’s not as tall as some of them, it is by far the largest book I currently own. And that’s where it remains as I have yet to read the first page, and don’t know what the best strategy to read it is.

Onslaught: The Complete Epic (Marvel - 2008)

 

It’s not like I haven’t read a large book before, it’s more that it is so big that I can’t use it for my main book read, as most of those can fit inside a normal plastic bag; and I can’t use it for bed time reading neither as it is possibly too heavy for that (plus I know what it feels like to wake up in the morning and find that you fell asleep while reading a comic). The issue is more that because it’s unlike anything I have read before; I feel like it requires its own dedicated time and place to read it. So it comes down to needing to find a time to read it that will best suit me, plus where I can have space to open it; most preferably across a table for it to rest on, because I doubt I will be able to hold it by the bottom of the book spine like I am able to with most other books I read. At the moment though it is something of a struggle as I have other stuff to read too; I am only one chapter into Darkmouth: Worlds Explode and I am now fully engrossed in The Enemy series having just finished The Enemy and now moving onto The Dead. Plus I have yet to finish Save The Cat! and have begun reading If You Could Ask God One Question (plus a Marvel Year by Year a Visual Chronicle that I received for my Birthday).

Marvel Year by Year a Visual Chronicle (and you can just see the edge of a copy of the board game Taluva too).

It could be sometime before I finally make it round to reading Onslaught, but who knows, before then I may even get to read those prelude books and stories and then have an even larger knowledge of the story. I look forward to reading it too, because while I know the story thanks to Wikipedia, I will get to see it with my own eyes too. Let’s not forget; it is a comic book after all.

X-Men Avengers, Onslaught

GENEPOOL





Top 5 Books I Read In 2014

20 05 2015

Icefire (Orchard Books - 2004)

During 2014, I took part in a reading challenge on Goodreads where I read 25 books in a year. Originally I had set the challenge to read 10 books in the year as I am something of a slow reader, but due to reading a selection of picture books, a comic and a couple of small ones, I was quick to surpass this target. So I kept on expanding it by another 5 books and by the end of the year, with a little bit of a struggle, I had read all 25 books.

Avengers vs. X-Men (Marvel - 2013)

The books I read last year were some of the best books I have read my whole life (so far) and for several months now I have been wanting to do a post about them. So here are my Top 5  favourite books that I read in 2014.

The Last Dragonslayer (Hodder and Stoughton - 2011)

5: The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde – I had not heard of nor read the works of Jasper Fforde until one of my lecturers at University posted an email about him coming to do a talk at the Uni. I did not think much more of it, but then my Lecturer suggested that I read The Last Dragonslayer as it would help with my assignment. I bought a copy of it, which was rather hard as it was not available on the shelves in Waterstones, though thankfully, I was able to order it through them. The first half of the first chapter just went by like a blur and I could not remember anything about it. The rest of the book though, I remember fondly. The story is about Jennifer Strange who is the acting head of Kazam, which is an employment agency for wizards. Times are tough for Magic and there is a lot more paperwork than there used to be, and things are going to get much harder for Jennifer, as she is destined to slay the last Great Dragon in the Ununited Kingdoms. The Last Dragonslayer is a book aimed at a teenage, possibly Young Adult audience, but I was able to just get engrossed in it. It is such a funny book, I just wanted to continuously burst out laughing as I got closer and closer to finishing it. I can’t stretch out enough how funny it was. It had references to the modern contemporary world, with the mentions of cars, business, employment and paperwork, but also had a deeply rooted world of magic and science. It’s also quite an easy read. I just loved this book throughout, such an enjoyable read.

FEAR (Egmont Books - 2012)

4: FEAR by Michael Grant – I worked out it took me somewhere between 8 and 10 months to read Michael Grant’s GONE series, but today, even after reading so many other books and other series, it is still my favourite series of books. In December 2013 I started reading FEAR, the penultimate book in the series, and at long last; it was the cover of FEAR that got me interested in the series in the first place. FEAR is the fifth book in the series and takes place after the events of PLAGUE, and things could not be worse for the boys and girls of The FAYZ. With the town and other areas they have lived been almost completely destroyed by both themselves, and the unnatural forces that reside in The FAYZ, they have finally begun to settle down, but there are dark forces both inside the dome, and outside. Inside, the town is about to rebel against its leaders and outside, a sinister plot is underway which could spell the end of those inside. But amidst all this, there is something much more powerful growing. The thing I found with the GONE series is how it is written to make you feel something more as you read it, not just affection or a connection to the characters, but makes you see or feel something more at work. I have referenced FEAR as the calm before the storm. The final book in the series has a lot of chaos and anarchy, but so does the first 4 books, but that grows more gradually. By the time you finish PLAGUE, you sort of feel rather paranoid as things get worse for the characters and the world. In FEAR though, there is a lot of times for peace and reflection, and while things do get chaotic, it’s more in a building form which saves the rest for the last instalment. FEAR also does one thing the other books have not done yet, which is explore the world outside the FAYZ; How the families of the children are doing, what the news coverage is reporting, but also what has happened to those who have escaped, and the armies Interest. FEAR then is not so much a rampaging assault on the characters inside like the first four books, but more of a supernatural conspiracy which sets everything up, for the final chapter. Due though also to its more natural calm pace, FEAR is such a beautiful but also calm read, that it becomes not just one of the best books in the series, but also, a lovely standalone book in its own right.

Jurassic Park (Arrow Books - 2006)

3: Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton – I had known for many years that Jurassic Park was originally a book, but I had not once considered reading it. It was only due to me wanting to do an adaptation of it for my University Degree that I decided to read it (the adaptation piece was the story re-told from the point of view of the Tyrannosaur). I went into it figuring that it would be a lot like the film, however it wasn’t; it was a lot better. I am a big fan of the film, but the book does things a lot differently. It begins in a way that starts with minor characters and some that are only heard from in no more than 1 chapter, but then it develops into something more recognisable. The characters though appear to be a lot different than they are in the film, but there are more developments and there is a real sense of who you want to boo and cheer for. Jurassic Park also has a great vision for its dinosaurs and even has a level of science in them. This science feature takes up a lot of the books dialogue, however, it is at no point; boring. It is actually written in a very interesting style that reads more like someone talking to you, instead of either lecturing you, or being written down in a text-book. It was really interesting, but in comparison, there is also a lot of mathematics as well as business, investing and corruption. It is not just a science book with the added treat of dinosaurs; it is also an insight into what lengths people will go to, to get what they want. Let’s not forget though, that at its core, Jurassic Park is an adventure, an adventure into a lost forgotten world as dinosaurs are brought back to life, and terrorise the lives of those, who have never encountered them alive. Yep, it sounds just like the film, but the book is more than a film, and is better for it.

Micro (Harper Collins - 2012)

2: Micro by Michael Crichton and Richard Preston – While reading Jurassic Park, I got interested into reading more works by Crichton. One I found in Waterstones was Micro. I did not know anything about it, was the first time I had seen it. I took a look and liked the sizing of the letters and line spacing. I looked into it, and decided to read that after I finished Jurassic Park; which I did, and liked it more than Jurassic Park. Micro is the last book to be written by Crichton who sadly passed away after finishing only a third of it, to which Preston was brought on board to complete. Micro follows a group of students as they are brought to Hawaii as part of an exciting opportunity to work for a new start-up company. Things take an ugly turn however and soon they find themselves in a world they know, but have never studied so close up before. They now have only a few days left to undo the damage done to themselves, but first have to survive a dangerous new world, that up till now, most people have taken for granted. Micro is a lot like Jurassic Park in the sense that it is very scientific but also a great adventure. It is filled with multiple perils and dangerous moments, and just like a great adventure, not everyone survives. In this we also have a selection of interesting characters, weird science and both a level of state of the art technology and; as far as I am aware, biotechnology that does not exist (yet) but appears so real. The stories biggest shock though comes in its first few chapters as while your mind is thinking one thing, you don’t see the other thing coming. In what I think is a book far better than Jurassic Park, Micro is such an enjoyable, yet both intriguing and interesting book.

LIGHT (Egmont Books - 2013)

1: LIGHT by Michael Grant – What is easily both; my favourite instalment in the GONE Series but also My Favourite Book. When I started reading it, with in just a few minutes of starting, I could not stop. Basically, everything comes to a head as those inside the FAYZ are in great danger as the Darkness has been reborn. As things get worse on the inside of the dome, things are advancing outside also and it appears that simply escaping the FAYZ, might not be such a great idea for some of the book’s main players. LIGHT is a non-stop, pulse pounding action thriller. It begins rather simply, but within a few chapters, there is chaos everywhere leading key players to meet their fate and untimely ends as they take on one of the most powerful entities in existence. Behind all this though there is still time for emotion, compassion and experience the lives of those who you have become attached to and fond of for six whole books. There are moments of regret and redemption for former villains as well as moments of great powers and raw destruction from others, and when the end comes, it is not really the end, as the book then delves into what happens to the lives of those who are still alive as some face uncertain futures. I really love this book, there was just great moments in it and it quickened the pace as it went along as the final battle approached. But the death of a certain character, a really good one, slowed it down enough for me to reflect. And then, as it reached its ultimate conclusion, came judgement day as some characters face a hard struggle, as some are made scapegoats and face criminal charges. But the story wraps it up beautifully and ends in a really nice way. It ends just the right way, with a finished, completed story, and one that I so far have not read anything like since.

The Song of the Quarkbeast (Hodder and Stoughton - 2012)

GENEPOOL (My Goodreads challenge for this year is to read 15 books in a year).





When Is The Hulk Getting A New Film?

18 06 2014

Hulk

After the success of the Avengers movie back in 2012 and with a sequel coming out next year which I am only very partially excited about for several reasons, many of the films cast and characters have been getting more and more movie parts with the recent conclusion to the Iron Man series, the brilliant sequel to Thor in Thor: The Dark World as well as the recent Captain America and the Snowmobile Driver. Since then of course further films have been announced into what could quite well be the most unbearable film series on the planet since Harry Potter with the announcement of films including the up and coming Guardians of the Galaxy, the quite idiotic sounding Ant-Man, a third Captain America film and other potential film ideas including a third Thor film (at last, some good news), something involving Doctor Strangelove…..sorry…..Strange no love, The Runaways, Iron Fist (who?), Nick Fury, Black Panther, a stand alone project for Black Widow (who has not been the same since after Iron Man 2), Inhumans and Ms. Marvel. While it has also been announced that a new Blade film is in production (which has been way too overdue seeing as none of these current Marvel films wouldn’t even be happening if it wasn’t for the Success of Blade), I really do hope that it shares no connections with the Avengers film series as Blade is not like that and he is not exactly the kind of person to team up with other super heroes, and if he were to join up with the Avengers, the character would be ruined, just like Doctor Who is right now.

The Avengers (Marvel Studios - 2012)

Now while all this is (supposedly) good, isn’t it strange that the real star of the 2012 Avengers film has yet to have a film announced, and by that I mean a standalone film, however none of the films since the release of the 2012 Avengers film have been actually standalone films and have had to include at least one reference to the 2012 Avengers film, which by and large has sort of lowered the tone of expectations from all of them and have started to make me wonder if there is any point to these films at all except for the studio to make money out of them. But yes, the real star of the 2012 Avengers film or Avengers Assemble as it was called in the UK for some unexplored reason, seriously though why was it? Anyway the real star of Avengers Assemble has yet to have any sort of potential but unlikely standalone at all film to be announced and as yet there is no real reason except for maybe some connections with a couple of films released 11 years ago and 6 years ago respectively. Yes as given by the title of this post and referencing both those films I am talking about The Hulk.

The Incredible Hulk (Marvel Studios - 2008)

While the last Hulk film entitled The Incredible Hulk and staring Edward Norton in the lead role along with Liv Tyler, Tim Roth and William Hurt does actually contain one of the very early references to The Avengers, it’s still not exactly had a sequel yet, even though in relative terms it was a sort of sequel and a reboot to the previous Hulk with Eric Bana (probably chosen because Bana is pronounced the same way as Banner in Bruce Banner) along with Jennifer Connelly (who I thought was definitely better in the role as Betty than Liv Tyler, although Tyler was a good choice if it was the case that Connelly was not available) Nick Nolte and Sam Elliott which in all fairness means that it has about an equal number of films as the others. But when you think about how good a performance Mark Ruffalo gave as Bruce Banner and The Hulk and the possibility that the Avengers wouldn’t have been as good without him in it, why hasn’t there been at least the possibility of a development of a Hulk film. It has been stated that negotiations are underway for such a film to be made, but that does not mean in any way shape or form that one is going to happen at all and if any character in Avengers Assemble should get one, it’s the Hulk. If you look at Avengers Assemble UK, the character shows so much detailed emotion in both living with himself and persecution and bullying (particularly from Black Widow) that his character connects more with the audience compared to a billionaire playboy, a mythical entity, an athletic spy, a non-Olympic gold medallist and a frozen selfish full of himself soldier. So if Marvel are looking for a touch more drama in future films, I would gladly suggest a new Hulk film as the character is just that, along with being green, tall and angry. Even though it was sort of annoying that his catchphrase was used by someone else in UK Assemble.

Ok, while it is true that Hawkeye has not had one yet, given that Jeremy Renner has become a big action star, the production of such a film possibly cannot get underway until he is actually available to do such a film, but also with the brilliant series Arrow on at the moment, a Hawkeye film could be seen as just as either a relation to those who don’t know the differences between Marvel and DC or as just a copycat production. The character possibly could be used in a supposed Black Widow, which could be possibly set in Budapest?

Hawkeye

While Hulk is set to appear in Avengers: Age of Ultron, or Avengers: Age of Ultron Assemble as it will probably be called in the UK, it’s still not the same as a proper film, but it does mean that along with two other characters (Thor and Iron Man) that the film is worth being excited about along with the arrival of two other characters who are technically X-Men characters with relation to Magneto (hmm, interesting?) with one of them (Scarlet Witch) being played by the terrific Elizabeth Olsen and the other having already appeared (Quicksilver) in X-Men Days of Future Past but this time being played by another Godzilla cast member and Super Hero veteran Aaron Taylor-Johnson means that the film does have some credit already but given what the cast apart from the terrific Cobie Smulders in the previous film means that I am still only very partially excited about it bar the previously mentioned cast and characters. But who knows, maybe this one might just work out and also we have more Avengers spinoffs to look forward too including Iron Fist (whoever he is?) and a potentially ruined Blade film; things to look forward too, although with the recent Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. there could be a second series of Blade: The Series,which would be nice, provided it is associated with that series and has the cast used in that series.

GENEPOOL (This has gone from a post about a new hulk film to other up and coming Avengers films, primarily Blade and some guy called Iron Fist).








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