REVIEW: X-MEN: FIRST CLASS

CAST
James McAvoy (Wanted)
Michael Fassbender (Prometheus)
Kevin Bacon (Friday the 13th)
Rose Byrne (Bridesmaids)
Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games)
Oliver Platt (2012)
Alex Gonzalez (Tierra de Lobos)
Jason Flemyng (Hanna)
Zoe Kravitz (Divergent)
January Jones (American Pie: The Wedding)
Nicholas Hoult (Mad Max: Fury Road)
Caleb Landry Jones (Contraband)
Edi Gathegi (Beauty and The Beast)
Lucas Til (Battle Los Angeles)
James Remar (Mortal Kombat 2)
Ray Wise (Robocop)
Brendan Fehr (Roswell)
Michael Ironside (Terminator Salvation)
Hugh Jackman (Real Steel)
Rebecca Romijn (Ugly Betty)
In 1944, in a German concentration camp in occupied Poland, Nazi scientist Dr. Klaus Schmidt witnesses a young Erik Lensherr bend a metal gate with his mind when the child is separated from his mother. In his office, Schmidt orders Lensherr to move a coin on his desk, and kills the boy’s mother when Lensherr cannot. In grief and anger, Lensherr’s magnetic power manifests, killing two guards and destroying the room. Meanwhile, at a mansion in Westchester County, New York, child telepath Charles Xavier meets young shapeshifter Raven, whose natural form is blue-skinned and scaly. Overjoyed to meet someone else “different”, he invites her to live with his family as his foster sister.
In 1962, Lensherr is tracking down Schmidt, while Xavier graduates from the University of Oxford with a thesis about mutation. In Las Vegas, CIA officer Moira MacTaggert follows U.S. Army Colonel Hendry into the Hellfire Club, where she sees Schmidt (now known as Sebastian Shaw), with mutant telepath Emma Frost, cyclone-producing Riptide, and teleporter Azazel. Threatened by Shaw and teleported by Azazel to the Joint War Room, Hendry advocates deployment of nuclear missiles in Turkey. Shaw, an energy-absorbing mutant, later kills Hendry.
MacTaggert, seeking Xavier’s advice on mutation, takes him and Raven to the CIA, where they convince Director McCone that mutants exist and Shaw is a threat. Another CIA officer sponsors the mutants and invites them to the secret “Division X” facility. MacTaggert and Xavier find Shaw as Lensherr is attacking him, and rescue Lensherr from drowning, while Shaw escapes. Xavier brings Lensherr to Division X, where they meet young scientist Hank McCoy, a mutant with prehensile feet, who believes Raven’s DNA may provide a “cure” for their appearance. Xavier uses McCoy’s mutant-locating device Cerebro to seek recruits against Shaw. Xavier and Lensherr recruit stripper Angel Salvadore, cabbie Armando Muñoz, Army prisoner Alex Summers, and a conceited Sean Cassidy. They all create nicknames, and Raven dubs herself “Mystique”.
When Frost meets with a Soviet general in the USSR, Xavier and Lensherr capture Frost and discover that Shaw intends to start World War III and trigger mutant ascendency. Azazel, Riptide and Shaw attack Division X, killing everyone but the mutants, whom Shaw invites to join him. Salvadore accepts; when Summers and Muñoz retaliate, Shaw kills Muñoz. Xavier takes the mutants to his family’s mansion for training. In Moscow, Shaw compels the general to have the USSR install missiles in Cuba. Wearing a helmet that blocks telepathy, Shaw follows the Soviet fleet in a submarine to ensure the missiles break a US blockade.
Raven, thinking McCoy likes her in her natural form, tells him not to use the cure. When she later attempts to seduce Lensherr by taking the forms of various women, Lensherr tells her she is beautiful in her blue mutant form. McCoy uses the cure on himself but it backfires, giving him blue fur and leonine aspects. With McCoy piloting, the mutants and MacTaggert take a jet to the blockade line, where Lensherr uses his magnetic power to lift Shaw’s submarine from the water and deposit it on land. During the ensuing battle, Lensherr seizes Shaw’s helmet, allowing Xavier to immobilize Shaw. Lensherr tells Shaw he shares Shaw’s exclusivist view of mutants but, to avenge his mother, kills Shaw—over Xavier’s objections—by forcing the Nazi coin from his childhood through Shaw’s brain.
Fearing the mutants, both fleets fire missiles at them, which Lensherr turns back in mid-flight. MacTaggert tries to stop Lensherr by shooting him but he deflects the bullets, one of which hits Xavier in the spine. Lensherr rushes to help Xavier and, distracted, allows the missiles to fall harmlessly into the ocean. Parting with Xavier over their differing views on the relationship between mutants and humans, Lensherr leaves with Salvadore, Azazel, Riptide and Mystique. Later, a wheelchair-bound Xavier and his mutants are at the mansion, where he intends to open a school. MacTaggert promises never to reveal his location and they kiss; later at a CIA debriefing, she says she has no memory of recent events. Elsewhere Lensherr, now calling himself “Magneto”, frees Frost from confinement.
X-Men: First Class” is a top notch film with a heck of a lot of plot packed into it’s 2 hour and 12 minute running time. Part of the success of the film certainly can be attributed to director Mathew Vaughn’s (who, interestingly, was originally to direct “X Men: The Last Stand” after Bryan Singer departed but before Brett Ratner stepped in) unique take on the material as well as Bryan Singer’s involvement again with the series.
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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.

REVIEW: MARVEL ANIME – X-MEN

 

CAST (VOICES)
Steve Blum (Wolverine and The X-Men)
Cam Clarke (He-Man 2002)
Danielle Nicolet (3rd Rock from The Sun)
Scott Porter (Speed Racer)
Fred Tatasciore (9)
Travis Willingham (Shelf Life)
Gwendoline Yeo (The Batman)
Troy Baker (Lego Justice League: Cosmic Clash)
Jennifer Hale (The Powerpuff Girls)
Laura Bailey (JLA Adventures)
really enjoyed this dvd. The animation is great, the story was ok. 4 out of 6 of the X-men they got spot on. They mixed a couple of classic X mythos stories together. It starts from the end of the Dark Phinex saga, and the i could tell you the other saga but that will give too much of the series away. The 4 character they got right were Wolverine, Cyclops, Beast, and Xavier. Storm and Emma Frost they made too nice (personality wise), where as in the comics both of these two are the more snooty and suppier members of the them. Yes both women look like they have has had enhancements surgery and Emma tends to display this as proudly as you can without actually revealing all, but in all fairness has Emma ever worn anything in the comics that would pass for PG? I don’t think so.there were silly little mistakes yes but I can over look them. Eg as soon as there is a new revelation it has to be explained again and again to all the characters not on the screen. Characters do get cut and bloodied in episodes but seem to heal during the credits. Also I am not quite sure what the X-men are fighting for, outside Japan mutants seem to be quite well accepted.

As I said the animation is great. The story starts from the “death” of Jean Grey. The whole team disbands to recover a year later they are needed again. Cyclops is obviously hit hardest by this and is most of the serise is based on him moving on from this tragedy, this affects his ability to lead, trust and just live. So there is some character development as well. Wolverine is perfectly just his surly rough self. Later on he even has a moment of beserker rage that they would not show in normal kid friendly show. For the sake of this serise imagin Muir Island is in Japan instead of Scotland, this is where most of the story takes place. It is even nice to see professor X contributing in the field. The only thing is they did not use many familiar X villains.

 

REVIEW: X-MEN: THE ANIMATED SERIES – SEASON 1-5

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CAST

Cedric Smith (Mutant X)
Norm Spencer (Rescue Heroes)
Catherine Disher (The Good Witch)
Cathal J. Dodd (Goosebumps)
Iona Morris (Robotech)
Alison Sealy-Smith (This Is Wonderland)
Chris Potter (The Waiting Game)
Tony Daniels (Yin Yang Yo!)
Alyson Court (Elvis Meets Nixon)

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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

John Colicos (Battlestar Galactica)
Jeremy Ratchford (Cold Case)
Lawrence Bayne (Highlander: TAS)
Barry Flatman (Odyssey 5)
Richard Epcar (Power Rangers)
David Hemblen (Earth: Final Conflict)
Don Francks (La Femme Nikita)
Frank Welker (The Simpsons)
Len Carlson (Swamp Thing: TAS)
Susan Roman (The Racoons)
Dennis Akiyama (Pxiels)
Nigel Bennett (Andromeda)
Maurice Dean Wint (Robocop: Prime Directives)
Philip Akin (Highlander: The Series)

 

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I recently watched through the entire 90’s x-men Animated Series for the first time. So does the show hold up for someone who didn’t watch it when it first aired? Is it still a good show? Overall, the show is really good. It was also revolutionary as it was one of the first animated TV shows to have a continuing storyline throughout the first few seasons.

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Rather than creating exclusively new story lines, the show based most of its episodes on well known events from the comics. Stuff like the ultra-famous dark phoenix saga all the way to a modified version of Days of Future Past that included the time traveling mutant Bishop. Most of the episodes changed details here and there to keep thing simple, but the basic premise remains the same.

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The animation is a mixed bag. On the one hand, still shots look very good for a 90s cartoon. Both characters and environments are finely detailed and even facial expressions are usually well done. On the other hand, it doesn’t look too good in motion. The frame-rate is often choppy and at times characters in the background are just standing still. There are occasional continuity errors as well, like characters swapping outfits between shots (the episode titled “Nightcrawler” comes to mind).

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Characters are generally portrayed well in the TV show. The main team consists of Professor X, Cyclops, Jean Grey, Wolverine, Beast, Storm, Gambit, Rogue, and Jubilee. Professor X, Wolverine, Cyclops, Jean Grey, Beast and Gambit are all portrayed well in the show. I found some of their voice actors were a little off-putting at first, but as I watched they grew on me. Rogue probably has the best voice acting of the bunch.

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I wasn’t quite as fond with the portrayal of Storm or Jubilee however. Storm was alright, but having her constantly talk about what she was commanding the weather to do is annoying at times. Does she have to verbally command the wind every time she blasts enemies with it? I get that she’s a bit of a showoff and that’s part of her charm, but still.

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The show has a great spotlight of different villains as well. It features everyone from mega villains like Magneto, Mr. Sinister, and Apocalypse to smaller villains like Vertigo, the Juggernaut, and even the Brood. The show even mentions the Juggernaut’s relationship to Xavier (they’re step brothers). Mr. Sinister in particular is very well portrayed in the series, and we even get an origins episode in season five (heavily modified of course).

If you have any interest in the X-men and want to try out the comics, this is a decent show for finding out some of the franchises back-story. It’s rarely as good as the original stories it’s based on, but it’s easier to find and for the most part, it’s an easy watch.

REVIEW: ASTONISHING X-MEN 1 & 2

Joss Whedon’s “Astonishing X-Men” run was just that, astonishing. Coming in to write the series at the height of the films’ popularity, Whedon took a unique approach and didn’t go to familiar villains, instead pitting the fractured group against themselves and a new villain, the mysterious Ord. Whedon’s 24 issue run consisted of four thematically connected story arcs, the first being “Gifted” a six-issue miniseries introducing Ord as well as the possibility of a permanent mutant cure. The motion comic has slowly but surely become a fixture in the lexicon surrounding superhero media.

The most well known example would be the “Watchmen: Motion Comic” a nearly 6 hour production that was an interesting adaptation of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ epic masterpiece. The big issue with many fans was the lone narrator, who was forced to voice male and female characters as well as the sometimes gimmicky, limited animation. Marvel, not to let DC hold the limelight for long has taken the next step in motion comics with the help of Neal Adams, bringing John Cassaday’s artwork from “Astonishing X-Men” to a level of life not seen before in the motion comic realm, as well as enlisting a full voice cast to cover Whedon’s take on the characters.


To be quite honest, the motion comic concept here isn’t the selling point. There are plenty of other story arcs or series’ Marvel could have tackled and a lesser story wouldn’t have been improved by this new animation technique. What sells “Gifted” is Whedon’s writing and the faithful adaptation and expansion of John Cassaday’s art. It’s really hard to describe how this motion comic looks. If you’ve seen something like the “Watchmen” motion comic you will be blown away. The technique here takes the original art and gives the characters some more lifelike  movement. Little touches like Beast’s ears wiggling to eye movement distance this from the rough animation given to other productions. Neal Adams’ advanced is motion comics deserves much credit, as the expansion of Cassaday’s 2D art is seamless, retaining the artist’s distinctive look, even when certain areas had to be expanded for the medium. Fortunately, Cassaday was a co-director on the project and was able to assist Adams in the task before them.


While, the motion comic technology still fails to top traditional animation in the action scenes, Whedon’s story and the more than competent voice cast, allow these hiccups to be overlooked. I have never been the biggest Kitty Pryde/Shadowcat fan, and was apprehensive back when I saw Whedon was making her a huge part of this take on the X-Men, but, sure enough, he makes her a compelling character. In fact, she, Emma Frost, and Beast are the most compelling characters in “Gifted,” overshadowing Cyclops, Wolverine, and the new, but underdeveloped villain, Ord. The story focuses on the relationship between the team as a whole, now significantly weakened; Jean Grey is dead, Professor X is gone, and other familiar characters like Storm, Nightcrawler, Rogue, and Iceman, are missing-in-action. While Cyclops may be the figurehead leader, it’s soon very obvious that Emma Frost is running the show and has many issues of her own, including a militant attitude towards humans that falls on the fence between Professor X’s tolerance and Magneto’s eugenics. Her attitude quickly rubs Kitty Pryde the wrong way, although as Emma sadly puts it as a fight between Wolverine and Cyclops on school grounds wraps up, “I still come in second to a corpse.”


“Gifted” is a fun experience to say the very least. It really takes the motion comic concept to the next level, surpassing even the classic animated series in terms of consistent storytelling. Whedon’s material is much more mature than the kid’s stuff of the early 90s and it all deserves to be adapted to this format. Purists to the source material may argue this is a gimmick, but here I would say, it’s not. This is merely the next evolution in adaptation. Marvel could have just had new animators animate a full adaptation and it might have been as good; voice acting wouldn’t have been an issue for sure, but the digital comic retains the original artist’s look and feel and with his own input taken into account, this is a much preferable animated adaptation. “Gifted” is the X-Men in top form, and the seven episodes go by, way too quickly (around 80 minutes), leaving you wanting much more.

Whedon’s story involves the Danger Room, a computerized, robotic holo-deck, if you will. That is, it’s a room designed to realistically and fully create any threat the X-Men might face, for training purposes only. But when an ex-mutant, not disgraced but despondent, meets his end in the room, the computer comes up with some creative ideas of its own to escape a life of servitude to the mutants.

What follows is a bit of psycho-dramatic fun involving everyone’s favorite villains, the Sentinels, and a team of X-Men consisting of Cyclops, Wolverine, Colossus, Beast, Kitty Pryde, and some chick in white whom I don’t recall at the moment. Whedon’s plot and dialog are certainly above par when it comes to graphic fiction.

Meanwhile, Cassaday’s artwork captures the X-Men in a way that expertly bridges the gap between the old-school look of Kirby and Cockrum, and more contemporary artists. The design of the Danger Room villain, in particular, brings to mind some mess you might see while tripping on the dance floor, while a minor twist makes Beast appear much more beastly. Of course any action involving the Sentinels is more than welcome, and Cassaday’s take, aided by Whedon’s weird vision, provides scares and thrills for true believers. if you fancy seeing your comics on a 55-inch screen instead of a tiny printed page,  motion comics are the way to go.