X-Men: Days of Future Past launched a few days ago, and this newest leg of the franchise seemed to hit all of the points that make superhero movies fun to watch.
It had cool action scenes, good dialogue, fun humor, and a plot that managed to mostly make sense.

I left the theater thoroughly entertained. Except for one nagging point.

The characters.

When I saw First Class I was thrilled with the complexity of the characters. The movie was rooted in developing people; confronting emotions, building relationships, and eventually tearing them apart. The pace is steady and deliberate, crafting deep characters so that by the time we get to the action sequences, the consequences matter.

But Days of Future Past seems to have fallen into the trap that so many superhero movies succumb to – it sacrificed character for action, thereby losing the thing setting this genre apart from ordinary action films.

To start, the movie committed the “sin of skip” – jumping ten years, thereby alienating us from the characters. When they spit us out into the seventies, it’s to find people with foreign goals, struggles, and emotions.

The two characters to suffer from this most were Magneto and Mystique. First Class carefully creates Magneto, illustrating all that he has been through, and allowing us to see his reasoning to the point that at the climax of the movie – though we don’t agree with Erik – we can completely understand his actions.

Yet when Magneto declares war upon humanity at the end of Days of Future Past, we have no context. No understanding of how he has turned from attacking only those who would kill him, to seeing no difference between soldiers and civilians. And the delicate balance between enemy and friend, which he and Charles have, is given about two conversations to deal with.

Mystique is treated unfairly in this movie, being essentially relegated to a rogue atomic bomb. She is something that has to be stopped. Not someone who has a mission. Quite literally, Erik and Charles want to stop her from getting into the hands of an enemy who would use her against them. She is simply wild, and we can be told why, but that does not have the same effect of seeing it.

And who is this enemy? The evilness of Bolivar Trask is repeated ad nauseum, but he comes across more as a businessman than anything else. He makes some statements regarding the danger of mutants, but that’s an popular opinion – not his original brand of villainy. He has a single line which conveys his character – “I want it alive.” – referring to Mystique, but what should truly set him apart – mutant experimentation and mutilation – is only discussed in passing. Even the lazy-wrap-up newspaper shot says he is arrested for selling military secrets; his downfall has nothing to do with his actually heinous crimes.

Ultimately, the movie – while entertaining – leaves us with bones, always choosing the less weighty path.

Instead of showing us the struggle of beliefs between Erik and Charles, we’re offered an irrelevant catharsis between them in a future that will not happen.

Instead of having action sequences between characters we care about, we get endless, irrelevant action in the future played out – even in the case of Magneto – by powers. Not characters.

Instead of focusing as much as possible on Charles’ rehabilitation, Mystique’s instability, and Magneto’s stubborn radicalism, we’re treated to Kitty Pride’s time-wasting wound, and Wolverine as a main character with no arc, and no development.

And of course, instead of a complex, terrifying, evil, and above all human villain, we get giant robots.

None of this makes Days of Future Past a bad movie. It is most certainly a good movie, and one that I will watch again. Yet it is disappointing that the filmmakers were content with making a rank and file superhero film over the unique one, which we know X-Men has the potential be.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 4×15 brings the L.M.D. storyline to a truly wild end. Here’s what to expect from “Self Control”!

You don’t know what’s coming

Yeah, there’s a synopsis for “Self Control” — “Suspicion turns to paranoia when the team doesn’t know who can be trusted as more LMDs infiltrate S.H.I.E.L.D.” But that’s the equivalent of saying that Iron Man is about a goateed man who can fly.

Sure, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 4×15 answers a lot of questions about who is and who isn’t a robot. More profoundly though, the episode goes in for a final knead and punch of the ideas that have been floating around all season.

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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 4×15 brings the L.M.D. storyline to a truly wild end. Here’s what to expect from “Self Control”!

You don’t know what’s coming

Yeah, there’s a synopsis for “Self Control” — “Suspicion turns to paranoia when the team doesn’t know who can be trusted as more LMDs infiltrate S.H.I.E.L.D.” But that’s the equivalent of saying that Iron Man is about a goateed man who can fly.

Sure, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 4×15 answers a lot of questions about who is and who isn’t a robot. More profoundly though, the episode goes in for a final knead and punch of the ideas that have been floating around all season.

Free will and humanity. Sacrifice and love. The nature of reality — and even of life itself. Beneath the plot, surprises, and pain, that’s what’s really going on in the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. spring finale.

That, and the characters who get caught in the middle.

Jed Whedon is Not. Playing. Around.

Executive producer and showrunner Jed Whedon is the man behind the pen and the camera in “Self Control,” and he’s there for a reason. Whedon’s first try at the director’s chair on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is operatic, incisive, and perpetually gut-clenching.

Yes, there are lovely and disturbing vistas, an artistry that comes from a deliberate and careful eye. But more important is the unshakable Whedon impulse that animates Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 4×15, that builds through the episode like a cresting tide.

You know that unmistakable sense that someone is laughing behind the scenes? Yeah. That’s why Jed Whedon is here.

What’s next?

Well, that’s a very good question. “Self Control” leaves us with a few razor-like possibilities, all of which lead down spiky corridors of questions. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 4×15 is here to leave us thirsty for the season’s final seven episodes, and that’s exactly what it does.

Oh, and to answer your next question…

Cliffhanger?

Uh, yes. Cliffhanger.

Oh boy, cliffhanger.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 4×15, “Self Control,” airs Tuesday, Feb. 21 at 10:00 p.m. on ABC.

What are your top theories for ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ 4×15?

Have President’s Day off? Here are some movies, TV shows, and soundtracks with which to celebrate President’s Day.

‘Hamilton’


Even if you were somehow lucky enough to have already seen the musical, you might as well celebrate today with another listen to the soundtrack. In case you have been living under a rock, Hamilton is a hip-hop, rap, musical about Alexander Hamilton. Yes, Hamilton never became president, but the musical does include multiple would-be presidents. Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and even birthday boy himself George Washington are heavily featured in Hamilton. Based on the biography by Ron Chernow, you can get a history lesson while you listen to great music.

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Have President’s Day off? Here are some movies, TV shows, and soundtracks with which to celebrate President’s Day.

‘Hamilton’


Even if you were somehow lucky enough to have already seen the musical, you might as well celebrate today with another listen to the soundtrack. In case you have been living under a rock, Hamilton is a hip-hop, rap, musical about Alexander Hamilton. Yes, Hamilton never became president, but the musical does include multiple would-be presidents. Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and even birthday boy himself George Washington are heavily featured in Hamilton. Based on the biography by Ron Chernow, you can get a history lesson while you listen to great music.

‘Liberty’s Kids’


Liberty’s Kids aired in the early 2000s on PBS. Liberty’s Kids follows three teenagers from varying backgrounds throughout the American Revolution, mentored by Benjamin Franklin. It is geared for children but is still pretty enjoyable for adults. In each episode, the teenagers encounter a significant person or event from the revolution, giving a concise and entertaining history lesson. The show features many important figures throughout the revolution, showing even more presidents than in Hamilton. As one can imagine, Washington is among these.

‘Lincoln’


Lincoln is a 2012, Oscar nominated movie, directed by Steven Spielberg based on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s biography of Abraham Lincoln, Team of Rivals. Instead of a biopic of Lincoln’s entire life, Lincoln is specifically about his passing of the 13th amendment. Essentially directed between each of his science fiction blockbusters, Spielberg also made many significant historical movies, Lincoln among them. Lincoln not only shows his power as a president, but also humanizes him through an Oscar winning performance by Daniel Day-Lewis.

‘1776’


Hamilton is not the first musical about American history. Thankfully, though, because this way there are other options, one of which is 1776. Even more conveniently, the musical 1776 was adapted into a movie in the early 1970s. Heavily implied by its name, 1776 is about the signing of the Declaration of Independence. 1776 definitely has a more classical musical theater vibe than Hamilton. The strange combination of American history and musical theater allows for a humorous yet educational experience. However, as reflective of the history of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Washington is not a character in the musical; yet, it obviously includes many other significant historical figures.

‘The West Wing’ or ‘The American President’


Unlike the other items on this list, these two are about fictional presidents. But it would be nice if they were real. Of the many politically charged movies and television shows by Aaron Sorkin, these two are specifically about presidents. If you have the day off and want to attempt to binge watch seven seasons, then you may want to check out The West Wing. The West Wing follows President Bartlet and his staff and advisors during their time in the White House. If you want a movie to help you transition between Valentine’s Day and President’s Day then The American President is worth watching. It is a romantic comedy about President Shepherd, who falls in love with a lobbyist.

How else will you celebrate President’s Day?

The first two cast members for Disney’s live-action adaptation of The Lion King have been announced by director Jon Favreau.

James Earl Jones, who voiced Mufasa in the animated movie in the ’90s, is returning as the character in the live-action adaptation. Interesting!

Meanwhile, Donald Glover — who will co-star in this summer’s Spider-Man: Homecoming for Disney and Marvel — will play Adult Simba.

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The first two cast members for Disney’s live-action adaptation of The Lion King have been announced by director Jon Favreau.

James Earl Jones, who voiced Mufasa in the animated movie in the ’90s, is returning as the character in the live-action adaptation. Interesting!

Meanwhile, Donald Glover — who will co-star in this summer’s Spider-Man: Homecoming for Disney and Marvel — will play Adult Simba.

Favreau tweeted the news Friday evening:

According to a statement from Disney, The Lion King “will build on the groundbreaking technology used in The Jungle Book to bring the story of Simba to photorealistic life.”

A release date for the film hasn’t been set. Favreau also helmed the live-action Jungle Book for the studio.

So far casting is off to a great start!