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“X-Men: Days of Future Past” – Evolution of a Mythology

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The film franchise based on Marvel Comics’ ‘X-Men’ comic mythology (which follows the exploits of “mutants” – people born with superpowers) are the last connections to the time when superhero movies were still a novelty and when lines like ‘What did you expect, yellow spandex?’ were eaten up by fans who were simply happy to see their favorite characters taken seriously by Hollywood. The aesthetic of early superhero films were clearly lifted mostly from The Matrix and Blade. The one thing nobody ever really talks about when revisiting the original X-trilogy is that none of the films are particularly good in purely cinematic terms and they are poor interpretations of the X-Men mythos. They do get a character or concept right on occasion (Hugh Jackman IS Wolverine), but in terms of interpreting the X-Men, they never seize the opportunity to tackle what has been a most interesting and pleasantly soap operatic serial storytelling (the comics being 50+ years ongoing). Four movies into the film franchise, with the critical & commercial flop, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, almost putting the series to whimper of a close, something remarkable happened: X-Men: First Class. The film was conceived as a soft reboot while also serving as a prequel to the previous films and it established a whole new tone and mission statement for the films going forward. First Class director Matthew Vaughn (L4yer Cake) embraced the freestyle camp and soap opera fun of the comics while allowing the mythology’s sense of social commentary to breathe and really come alive.After another fun brief one-off film focusing on the character of Wolverine (who has been the central character for every X-film prior to First Class), fan-favorite Bryan Singer, who directed the first 2 entries in the franchise and produced the rest is back at the helm. Singer has slowly gotten notoriety for not being reverent or respectful of the X-characters and mythology save for Wolverine but it seems many lessons were learned from the success of First Class as this film, X-Men: Days of Future Past is not only a good movie, it’s Singer’s best X-Men movie, and the best X film to date.

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“The Lego Movie” – Fine Family Fun; Where “Art” and “Commercial” Combine

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People have every reason to hate the Lego Movie. It’s essentially a 90-minute toy commercial that commodifies the innocent wonder and imaginations of a child’s playtime. The film is filled with celebrity cameos and much of the humor is pop-culture reference-based. Something odd happened as soon as the film came to a close because it turns out, like the film’s pop-theme song suggests, “everything was awesome.” The Lego Movie is every bit as good as many other critics are saying, and far better than it has any right to actually be. Somehow, the film manages to avoid the pratfalls of most product-marketing agenda filmmaking (Transformers among others). The Lego Movie is a wonderful family film packed with as much heart as it has laughs. Like the best family films, it’s also filled with a pretty positive moral message, and it just so happens to also qualify as a Lego-Brand mission statement.

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