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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Trailers – Jurassic World, Star Wars Episode 7 and Terminator Genisys

10 12 2014

Jurassic Star Terminator

A couple of weeks ago, two of Cinema’s big blockbuster heavyweights released trailers for their long-awaited return to the big screen. Now while I wanted to do a comparison or look at the trailers type post for both Jurassic World and Star Wars Episode VII, I didn’t quite get round to it, but after the release of the Terminator Genisys trailer this past week, I decided to do it, and combine all three. First off was the trailer for the new Jurassic Park film, Jurassic World. It has been over 13 years since a Jurassic Park film has come out, and while there have been a couple of re-releases of the original film, it has been quite a while since a new film has been made. Jurassic Park, originally based on the book of the same name by author Michael Crichton has had 3 films so far. A fourth has been in the works for a number of years now but finally it appears that there is light on the horizon. Next up was Star Wars Episode 7 (or VII if you want to be specific). Once again, it has been a while since a new film has been released; the last one being in 2005 (if you don’t include Episode II.V which was more an animated film, not a live action film). In 2012 when Lucasfilm was bought by Disney, Disney announced that a string of new Star Wars films were to be produced with Star Wars: The Force Awakens to be the next film in the series. Finally, there is the next film in the Terminator series. The last time the Terminator was on the Big Screen was in Terminator Salvation in 2009. While the previous 3 films in the series looked at the events leading up to the war against the machines, Salvation finally set itself in that war. Well after 5 years, Terminator is back (no pun intended). So, let’s now look at these trailers. I thought, for a bit of fun I would organise them in a similar manner to how I do my Top 5 posts. So I’ll put what I think is the best looking last, and build up to it, with third first and second…..second.

Star Wars Episode VII (Lucasfilm - 2015)

When Disney first made the purchase and the announcement was made about new films, I was undecided. First it sounded like an interesting idea, but I had this feeling that Disney was just going to end up milking the franchise for all it’s worth. Even when J.J. Abrams was announced as the Director, while a little alleviated I was still unsure. The problem I had been them referencing the original films over and over again. Not do anything new, just re-do old storylines and characters. No new story, or characters or items. Just old stuff 24/7. So eventually I just put it to the back of my mind, not really thought about it, just mildly forgot and take an interest every now and then. Well, the new trailer was released, and I was right. The trailer begins with a scene that looks like Tatooine, not a new planet, an old favourite. It shows images of Storm Troopers, X-Wings and the Millennium Falcon. Like I said nothing much new. Yes, there are new cast members and a new robot. The villain that appears is one ‘supposedly new’ thing that I do like. The lightsaber is more orangey than red, and the flaming handles are a nice touch. I mean the trailer isn’t all that bad, but given the prequels are set something like 30-40 years before the main trilogy, I’d thought that 30 years after the events of the original trilogy that there would be new bits and bobs, not old stuff. The trailer isn’t that bad, the little robot looks kind of funny, and the shots of Storm Troopers and X-Wings do look interesting. But I still think that Disney are relying too much on the previous films. It’s like the Marvel Cinematic Universe is right now, the way that they are constantly reminding the audience of The Avengers movie, instead of allowing the standalone films like Thor and Iron Man the opportunity to stand on their own two feet. While it does look pretty exciting and has raised my expectations a little more, the thing is, it’s still just a teaser, when a main trailer gets released, we should be able to see more. While I am still unsure about this new film, the trailer has made me a little (just a little) bit more excited about it, and it’s mostly due to the flaming lightsaber.

Terminator Genisys (Skydance Productions - 2015)

Next up, it’s Terminator. I really liked Salvation, I liked the cast, Sam Worthington and Moon Bloodgood were both really enjoyable to watch and I liked the setting and premise. The original films originally didn’t really work for me. I have not seen the first one; I have seen the other two. I originally didn’t like number 2 but more recently I have grown quite fond of it. A new Terminator film is always exciting and I have followed (on and off) the production of 5 for a while. I was hoping for another film set in the future during the war. Possibly more like the war shown at the beginning of judgement day with lasers than the bullet filled world of Salvation, but the chance for a Salvation sequel was always on my mind. This new trailer however, is quite different. The trailer does show the future war against the machines, with battle sequences and terminators, but it also travels in the past with the character of Kyle Reese being sent back in time to when Connor was just a child and is being raised by a Terminator. It looks like instead of doing either or, it is doing both, showing the war and the past. The initial trailer cast looks pretty good and the setting and action scenes look pretty exciting, however I get this feeling that the film looks a bit like Twilight, like it’s designed for that market and audience. While the costumes are definitely more like Kate Beckinsale in Underworld, the cast together look like they were filming another Twilight film, this time with robots in it. It’s just the cast and the light uses and points where they are together look like the twilight trailers, and the posters, same goes for Genisys’s posters, it looks like Twilight. While I still have my little worries about it, I am really excited about this new film in the series, it looks brilliant.

Jurassic World (Universal Pictures - 2015)

Finally, it comes round to Jurassic Park. I have been following the production on Jurassic Park 4 very closely for a number of years now. When the film finally went into production I was pleased, I have been wanting to see a new Jurassic Park film more than a new Star Wars film. Recently I read the book by Michael Crichton and really enjoyed that too. So when the trailer came out, I was so excited to just see it. Firstly, it should be noted that this is not a remake or reboot, it is a sequel and it is set about 22 years after the events of the first film. The new trailer shows a lot, and it shows a fully working safari park for dinosaurs. The trailer also shows dinosaurs, in particular a brilliant shot of Liopleurodon/Predator X depending on what the producers are classing it as. The trailer also reveals plot elements and reveals the idea of a hybrid dinosaur. Now while I am a bit worried at the sound of that, the trailer does not show the creature and so no spoilers are given. The idea of the park working and accepting visitors is brilliant, but the inclusion of the genetics which the book and first film explore combined with the working park make it look like the park (when finished) represented in Crichton’s original story. The inclusion of the hybrid also brings a level of mystery and jeopardy to the trailer which makes you want to long for more. The effects look brilliant, and the dinosaurs as well as the human cast look great too. While it may still be a few months away from being released, Jurassic World looks Fantastic.

GENEPOOL








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