REVIEW: THE GIFTED – SEASON 1

MAIN CAST

Stephen Moyer (True Blood)
Amy Acker (Angel)
Sean Teale (Reign)
Natalie Alyn Lind (Gotham)
Percy Hynes White (Rupture)
Coby Bell (Burn Notice)
Jamie Chung (Office Christmas Party)
Blair Redford (Satisfaction)
Emma Dumont (Aquarius)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Hayley Lovitt (Ant-Man)
Toks Olagundoye  (The Neighbors)
Joe Nemmers (American Crime)
Jeff Daniel Phillips (Westworld)
Elena Satine (Revenge)
Garret Dillahunt (12 Years a Slave)
Sharon Gless  (Cagney & Lacey)
Jeffrey Nordling  (Nashville)
Zach Roerig (The Vampire Diaries)
Michelle Veintimilla  (Gotham)
Frances Turner (The Exes)
Danny Ramirez (Assassination Nation)
Skyler Samuels (Scream Queens)
Raymond J. Barry (Falling Down)
Ray Campbell (Breaking Bad)
David Norona  (The Mentalist)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)

What ingredients are necessary for a successful show about powered individuals? Cool abilities? Flashy visuals? Likable characters? Interestingly, Fox’s The Gifted manages to have them all despite following some formulaic paths to tell its story. Any worries viewers might have about the young, good-looking, CW-like cast should be tossed aside. Everyone from the headstrong but calculating mutants to the strangely sympathetic government enforcers to the argumentative but caring siblings in the Strucker family have levels of complexity not often seen in comic book shows.It helps that there are powers on display right away that we haven’t seen on previous superhero-as-outcast shows. Of particular interest is Jamie Chung’s character, Claire a.k.a. Blink, whose ability involves creating writhing purple portals that allow her to travel instanteously from one point to another. Having her character join the Mutant Underground as someone still new to her abilities is something we’ve seen in shows like The Tomorrow People or Alphas, but that trope is usually reserved for the main character. Here, her burgeoning powers and escape from the law are merely used to set up one of the big motivations for the mutants to come out of hiding.The Gifted’s main story, arguably, revolves around the Struckers, who live in a world where anti-mutant laws are in effect and the X-Men and the Brotherhood of Mutants have gone off the grid. Public fear of the dangers of super-powered individuals has led to strict government control and prejudice in the form of derogatory terms like “mutey.” Reed Strucker, played powerfully by Stephen Moyer of True Blood, helps prosecute those mutants who use their power to break the law, and the initial concern that he and his wife (Amy Acker of Person Of Interest) share centers around their son Andrew, who’s being bullied at school almost to the breaking point.Viewers can probably guess what happens next, but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable to watch unfold. The irony of Reed working against mutants and then finding out about his son’s powers being awakened by the strong emotions associated with abuse by his peers is richly nuanced and informs everything the family does afterwards. There are some surprises for the family along the way as well to sweeten the pot, but as Reed seeks help from the Mutant Underground, his discoveries concerning the Magneto-like Lorna a.k.a. Polaris (Emma Dumont of Aquarius) provide a pleasantly paradoxical reluctance and incentive for Lorna’s boyfriend, the light-manipulating Marcos a.k.a. Eclipse (Sean Teale of Reign), to help the Struckers.What they’re escaping from is the Sentinel Services, a group of elite enforcers who apparently go after those with particularly destructive or potentially game-changing abilities. Two things stand out about the introduction of these mutant hunters. First, the lead agent, Jace Turner (Coby Bell of Burn Notice), is oddly sympathetic while being coldly rigid in rounding up mutants; and second, the Sentinel Services have mysterious ways of tracking the seemingly untrackable and bring a lot of high-tech toys to take down those with powers. The combination makes for a very interesting, dynamic enemy opposite quite flawed protagonists — just how we like it.Characters in the background felt strong and full of promise as well. Although Acker’s Caitlin Strucker didn’t have quite enough to do in the pilot, her screen presence has always been unmatched and as the season goes on she becomes a more prominent character and crucial to the mutant underground, her daughter Lauren (Natalie Alyn Lind of The Goldbergs), who could have easily disappeared into the background as just another pretty face, is wonderful both when she was fighting with her brother and when she was supporting him with secrets of her own. And a mutant to keep an eye on, just from the sheer awesomeness of his powers, is John (Blair Redford of Satisfaction), who has a number of abilities hinted at by his alias “Thunderbird” that will not be spoiled here.The Gifted has what it takes to be another “X-Men adjacent” hit for Fox Television alongside FX’s Legion. The latter is much more esoteric but does have several things in common with this new mutant offering, including the manner in which Andy Strucker’s (Percy Hynes White of Murdoch Mysteries) powers manifest. The series builds towards a great finale that changes the entire dynamic of the show and leads into what should be an awesome Season 2 later in the year.

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REVIEW: X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST -THE ROGUE CUT

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CAST
Hugh Jackman (Chappie)
James McAvoy (wanted)
Michael Fassbender (Prometheus)
Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games)
Halle Berry (Catwoman)
Nicholas Hoult (About a Boy)
Anna Paquin (She’s All That)
Ellen Page (Juno)
Ian Mckellan (Lord of The Rings)
Patrick Stewart (American Dad)
Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones)
Shawn Ashmore (Earthsea)
Omar Sy (Jurassic world)
Evan Peters (Kick-Ass)
Josh Helman (Mad Max: Road Fury)
Daniel Curdmore (Warcraft)
Bingbing Fan (Iron Man 3)
Famke Janssen (The Faculty)
Jason Marsden (Hop)
Lucas Til (Walk The Line)
Michael Lerner (Barton Fink)
Kelsey Grammer (Transformers 4)

Yes, this is even better than what we saw in the cinema. The theatrical version was very good, though we already knew that Rogue had been cut completely from the movie to make a more streamlined narrative (and possibly to meet studio demands over running time). Now the missing 17 minutes have been reinstated. We get a longer section in the future before the time travel takes place, a mission to rescue Rogue so she can take over from an injured and flagging Kitty, and a new section with Mystique visiting the mansion.

The extended future section gives additional dialogue to Bishop and also Storm – many viewers wanted more from the dystopian future and this goes a good way to satisfying that. And although Anna Paquin’s Rogue is reduced once again to a damsel in distress, the rescue mission is good and Paquin has a strong presence that’s very promising if we ever get to see any more of her version of Rogue. It also indicates that, like Magneto, her powers did return after she elected to be cured in X-Men: The Last Stand. The scene with Mystique at the mansion doesn’t feel so compelling, though it does continue the discussion with Beast over embracing one’s true self. Both versions of the film are very good, but for me the Rogue Cut feels a little more rounded. The mission to rescue Rogue fits in fine amid the film’s last act when everything becomes desperate and tense and the action really steps up, with parallels between past and future.This is a two disc set and it does also contain the original cinema version of the film. Disc 1 also contains a commentary by director Bryan Singer and writer/producer Simon Kinberg for the original cinema version, and a commentary by Bryan Singer and composer/editor John Ottman on the Rogue Cut. Disc 2 has special features including Mutant vs Machine (a 9-part making of documentary), X-Men Unguarded (informal conversations with the cast, it takes them a while to relax and get going but it’s quite nice to watch and hear what they think), a sneak peak of the new Fantastic Four and some image galleries.A great new cut for a great film.

REVIEW: X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST

CAST
Hugh Jackman (Chappie)
James McAvoy (wanted)
Michael Fassbender (Prometheus)
Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games)
Halle Berry (Catwoman)
Nicholas Hoult (About a Boy)
Anna Paquin (She’s All That)
Ellen Page (Juno)
Ian McKellan (Lord of The Rings)
Patrick Stewart (American Dad)
Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones)
Shawn Ashmore (Earthsea)
Omar Sy (Jurassic world)
Evan Peters (Kick-Ass)
Josh Helman (Mad Max: Road Fury)
Daniel Curdmore (Warcraft)
Bingbing Fan (Iron Man 3)
Famke Janssen (The Faculty)
Jason Marsden (Hop)
Lucas Til (Walk The Line)
Michael Lerner (Barton Fink)
Kelsey Grammer (Transformers 4)
In the future, robots known as Sentinels are exterminating mutants and their human allies. A band of mutants, including Kitty Pryde, Colossus, Iceman, Bishop, Warpath, Blink and Sunspot, evade the Sentinels due to Pryde’s ability to send a person’s consciousness to the past. Pryde’s group convenes with Logan, Storm, Professor Charles Xavier, and Erik Lehnsherr at a monastery in China. Pryde sends Logan’s consciousness 50 years back in time to 1973 to prevent Mystique from assassinating Dr. Bolivar Trask, creator of the Sentinels. Following the assassination, Mystique was captured, and her DNA was used by Trask’s company to improve the Sentinels, whose ability to adapt to any mutant power makes them almost invincible. Xavier and Lehnsherr advise Logan to find both of their younger selves for help.
 At the X-Mansion in 1973, Logan encounters Xavier and Hank McCoy. Xavier’s Institute for Gifted Youngsters has closed after most of the teachers and students were drafted to the Vietnam War. Xavier, a broken man, has been overusing a serum that allows him to walk, but suppresses his telepathy. Logan explains his mission and persuades Xavier to help free Lehnsherr from a prison cell beneath The Pentagon, where he is being held for allegedly assassinating President John F. Kennedy. They rescue Lehnsherr with the help of Peter Maximoff, a mutant with super speed.
In Washington, D.C., Trask unsuccessfully tries to sway Congress to gain support for his Sentinel program. Meanwhile, in Saigon, Mystique prevents William Stryker from appropriating a group of mutant G.I.s for Trask’s research. Mystique investigates Trask’s office and discovers he has been capturing mutants to use for his experiments. Xavier, Lehnsherr, McCoy, and Logan fly to Paris to intercept Mystique, who is impersonating a North Vietnamese general to infiltrate the Paris Peace Accords. There, Trask attempts to sell his Sentinel technology to Communist nations. Xavier’s group arrives as Mystique is about to kill Trask. Lehnsherr tries to kill Mystique to ensure her DNA cannot be used for the Sentinels, but she jumps from a window. The fight spills onto the street in view of the public, allowing Lehnsherr and Mystique to escape.
Trask is saved, but the world is horrified by the existence of mutants. President Richard Nixon approves Trask’s Sentinel program and arranges an unveiling ceremony. Trask’s scientists recover Mystique’s blood from the street. Meanwhile, Lehnsherr—who has recovered his telepathy-blocking helmet—intercepts the prototype Sentinels in transit and laces their polymer-based frames with steel, allowing him to control them. At the mansion, Xavier stops taking his serum and slowly regains his telepathic powers, while losing the ability to walk. Through Logan, Xavier speaks to his future self and is inspired to work for peace between humans and mutants once again. He uses Cerebro to track Mystique, who is heading to Washington, D.C.
As Xavier, Logan, and McCoy search for Mystique, Nixon unveils the Sentinel prototypes at the White House. Lehnsherr commandeers the Sentinels and attacks the crowd, then sets the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium around the White House as a barricade. Nixon and Trask, accompanied by the Cabinet, Secret Service officers, and Mystique (disguised as a Secret Service member), are taken to a safe room. Logan and McCoy try to stop Lehnsherr, but he pits a Sentinel against them and then throws Logan into the Potomac River. In the future, the X-Men make their final stand as a large army of Sentinels attack the monastery. In 1973, Lehnsherr pulls the safe room from the White House and prepares to kill Nixon and his Cabinet. Mystique, who is disguised as Nixon, incapacitates Lehnsherr with a plastic gun. Xavier persuades Mystique to spare Trask and allows her and Lehnsherr to flee. Mystique’s actions are seen as a mutant saving the President, leading to the cancellation of the Sentinel program. Trask is arrested for trying to sell American military secrets.
Logan wakes up in the future to find Iceman, Rogue, Colossus, Pryde, McCoy, Storm, Jean Grey, Scott Summers, and Xavier are all alive. In 1973, Mystique, impersonating Stryker, takes custody of Logan. In a post-credits scene, a crowd chants to En Sabah Nur, who is using telekinesis to build pyramids as four horsemen watch from nearby.
The latest addition to the x-men series works well, using many of the original cast with those introduced in X-Men First Class. And it it does it very well. Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan, with their stage and theatre backgrounds set the bar very high when the first film came out in 2000. Bringing them back through the use of time travel and the sentinels story makes for a terrifically entertaining film.

REVIEW: WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN

MAIN CAST (VOICES)

Steven Blum (Marvel Anime)
Susan Dalian (Ultimate Avengers 2)
Jennifer Hale (Biker Mouse From Mars)
Danielle Judovits  (The Batman)
Tom Kane (Spider-Man: TAS)
Yuri Lowenthal (Bleach)
Nolan North (Young Justice)
Liam O’Brien (Sailor Moon Crystal)
Roger Craig Smith (Batman Unlimited)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)
Kieren van den Blink (Anywhere but Here)
Kari Wahlgren (Last Exile)
Jim Ward (Wall-E)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Charlie Adler (Transformers)
Tamara Bernier Evans (As You Like It)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
A.J. Buckley (Happy Feet)
Corey Burton (Jutsice LEague Unlimited)
Grey DeLisle (Megas XLR)
Alex Désert (The Flash)
Richard Doyle (Ben 10)
Chris Edgerly (Dr. Dolittle 3)
Crispin Freeman (Hellsing)
Kate Higgins (Eureka Seven)
Mark Hildreth (V)
Michael Ironside (Total Recall)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Gabriel Mann (Dominion)
Graham McTavish (The Hobbit)
Phil Morris (Smallville)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Tara Strong (Batman: TAS)

The story begins with Rogue and Wolverine having an argument about him leaving. When Wolverine goes to Charles and Jean Grey get headaches. An explosion occurs, and Charles and Jean disappear. The resulting trauma caused the X-Men team to disband and go their separate ways, leaving Xavier’s once highly revered league of mutant peace preservers out of commission. Due to the loss of the Professor, Jean, and severe damage to the mansion, many of the X-Men have withered in their faith towards the stability of their former team and have since detached themselves from their former community. Some examples include Cyclops’ subsequent isolation resulting from Jean’s disappearance, Storm’s relocation back to her home continent of Africa, and Iceman’s move back into his parents’ home in the quiet suburbs.
One year later, the MRD (short for the Mutant Response Division), a government-supported organization created for the detainment and subsequent registration of existing mutants, begins capturing mutants from all over the country in response to the countless human protesters determined to protect the safety of humankind. This course of action causes Wolverine and Beast to ally and resolve to bring the once defunct X-Men team back together again. Meanwhile, Rogue is in the street and attacked by the Brotherhood of Mutants. They trick her into joining them, and she later smiles devilishly as she enters their base, appearing to have switched allegiance to become an evil mutant. Thanks to the generosity, wealth, and resourcefulness of Angel, the slowly reforming X-Men team begins to see a promising return to its former glory with the rejoining of junior members Iceman, Shadowcat and Forge along with the reconstruction of the previously demolished Xavier Institute. Unfortunately, without the necessary capabilities of a competent telepath to operate Cerebro, the possibility of locating some of the more globally scattered X-Men members along with the missing Charles Xavier and Jean seems all but a pipe dream.
Fortunately, this problem does not last for very long when Emma Frost, the beautiful former Headmistress of a now inactive mutant school of her own in Massachusetts, makes a surprising appearance on the doorstep of the Mansion with an interesting proposal: membership with the X-Men in exchange for utilizing her telepathy to pinpoint the missing Xavier’s whereabouts. Upon the team’s – and particularly Wolverine’s – reluctant acceptance of the offer, Emma’s efforts prove successful as she is able to locate a comatose Charles on the shores of Genosha in the care of Magneto. After their arrival on Genosha and a short confrontation with the Master of Magnetism himself, Magneto eventually permits the X-Men to take his old friend’s body back to the sanctity of the Mansion where he is certain that Xavier will be placed in proper care. Upon their return, Xavier telepathically contacts the X-Men twenty years from the present in an alternate dystopian future and informs Wolverine that he is to lead and reunite the X-Men if they wish to successfully prevent the inevitable war that will cause the world to fall under the domination of Master Mold and the Sentinels.
Throughout the course of the entire season, Emma’s role as the X-Men’s primary acting telepath enables the team to relocate the rest of the other members in the hopes of reforming once again and assisting in Xavier’s cause. While some were met with initial hesitancy such as with Nightcrawler, others such as Storm were more than willing to accept the offer once Xavier’s vision had been put into perspective. The X-Men overcome many hardships and obstacles along the way upon achieving their ultimate goal of relocating Jean and finally revealing the truth surrounding the mystery of the Mansion’s cause for explosion along with Xavier and Jean’s subsequent disappearances. Meanwhile, Magneto welcomes new mutants to Genosha, amongst whom is Nightcrawler. Magneto claims that Kenosha is a safe and secure area for mutants, rather than a threat. At first Nightcrawler believes this, but upon closer inspection Genosha is exposed as a method used by Magneto to use mutant’s powers. Nightcrawler escapes, but is captured by Mystique when he arrives back at the mansion.

Next, Wolverine had some sights of the past and with the help of Emma, he went to unveil the truth of his sightings. In the course, he met a lone mutant girl, and a past friend Sabretooth and finally unleash the truth of his past to a certain extent. In next, Cyclops has sad past about Jean, and he always thought that she is still alive. So, with the help of Emma, he went along Mister Sinister. The heavy fight between X-Men and Mister Sinister finished without the actual goal. Wolverine takes an oath from Cyclops to be in the X-Men and not to search for Jean. In the last scenes, Jean wakes up in a hospital after months in a coma.
It is later revealed in the three-part first season finale “Foresight” that the previously assumed attack on the Mansion was not from the efforts of a third party, but rather from the result of Jean who unwittingly releases the immense and highly destructive strength and power of the Phoenix Force, that originally lay dormant deep within her subconscious, in an attempt to halt an oncoming telepathic attack led by Emma (who was secretly working as a double agent for the Inner Circle and the Stepford Cuckoos). Along with Sebastian Shaw, Selene, Harry Leland, and Donald Pierce, it was the Inner Circle’s utmost duty to not only obtain the power of the Phoenix Force by abducting Jean from the protection of Xavier and the Mansion, but to also obliterate the ancient being’s existence before it could fully mature and consequently bring forth unparalleled destruction onto the world as it had done numerous times in the past throughout Earth’s history. However, in a move that was completely unknown to Emma at the time, the rest of the Inner Circle members all shared an entirely different and more sinister vision than Frost had initially believed: to control and manipulate the power of the Phoenix Force and have it cater to their own hidden agenda.Upon realizing the error of her ways, Emma betrays the Inner Circle and attempts to redeem herself in the eyes of the X-Men by not only rescuing Jean but, by also following through with her original plan of destroying the cosmic entity before it could mature. Unfortunately, her actions result in her apparent death. Rogue apologizes to Wolverine, and finally rejoins the X-Men for good. The now fully reformed X-Men are praised for their actions by Professor Xavier, but are warned of a new danger approaching: the Age of Apocalypse.Wolverine and the X-Men was a quite underrated animated series, which certainly deserved much more success than it got. I mean, this series at least deserved to have another season, but sadly it was cancelled too soon, despite having a high level of quality, good animation.