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.

After all that talk of inclusivity, Star Trek Beyond falls into the Hollywood trap of implied sexuality.

Mild spoilers for Star Trek Beyond.

Star Trek Beyond, already a wildly anticipated movie, made headlines ahead of its release because of the franchise’s decision to introduce the first openly LGBT character: Mr Sulu, played by John Cho.

While this decision was certainly met with excitement, there was disappointment, too. The original Mr Sulu, George Takei, openly voiced his opinion that they should have introduced a new LGBT character rather than expand on original canon (as they have been the whole trilogy), while Simon Pegg beautifully argued that there was power in using an established character who wouldn’t be defined by his sexuality.

Then came the movie itself, and while the introduction of gay Sulu is still a great thing, we’re left sorely disappointed by Beyond‘s decision to depict the LGBT relationship — or rather, hardly depict it at all.

As reported by our friends at The Mary Sue, the scene featuring Sulu and his husband Ben depicts a “lukewarm” relationship, although Sulu is very affectionate with the pair’s daughter.

This is, unfortunately, a common problem in Hollywood when an LGBT couple — almost impossibly — makes it into a big franchise film. They’re allowed to be there, but having any kind of physical interaction even remotely resembling what a heterosexual couple might have still seems to be off-limits.

Related: Hollywood is failing the LGBT community: GLAAD slams Disney, Paramount and Warner Bros.

And, according to John Cho, there was actually a kiss filmed. “There was a kiss that I think is not there anymore,” he told Collider. “It wasn’t like a make-out session. We’re at the airport with our daughter. It was a welcome-home kiss. I’m actually proud of that scene, because it was pretty tough.”

Cho points out that Ben was played by a non-actor, writer Doug Jung, and says, “Obviously, I just met the kid, and then Doug is not an actor. I just wanted that to look convincingly intimate. We’re two straight guys and had to get to a very loving, intimate place. It was hard to do on the fly. We had to open up. It came off well, in my view.”

And we wish we could have seen it. Introducing a major LGBT character in the Star Trek franchise is a fantastic first step, and depicting two POC actors raising a child together is a great statement — but, unfortunately, the decision to cut out their kiss (which was already chaste, by the sounds of it) is emblematic of Hollywood’s continuous phobia of depicting LGBT relationships and intimacy on the big screen.

As Screen Crush also points out, this exact same scenario played out in Independence Day: Resurgence, too. In Finding Dory, the lesbian couple are only implied, in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it sequence.

LGBT representation (when present at all) is always so subtle, evidently in fear of offending straight audiences while not totally erasing non-straight sexualities. And, sadly, even that is considered a big step forward — but maybe it’s time we start depicting humanity as it is, and not what society wished it was 100 years ago.

Here’s looking at you, Star Wars.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child reviews from theater critics are glowing, so when the hell can Americans get a chance to see the play in New York?

With just days to go until The Cursed Child script book is released around the world, The New York Post’s theater reporter has spoken to sources who say the play will be coming to Broadway sooner rather than later. Producers are currently holding discussions to bring the play to NY as early as 2017.

They haven’t yet announced a Broadway engagement for “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” but New York theater people say it’s only a matter of time. Word is that Friedman and Callender are in negotiations for a Shubert theater possibly for next season. They may hit Toronto first, however.

The idea of The Cursed Child hitting Broadway so soon (“next season” could mean around May 2017) will come as a relief to American Harry Potter fans who would rather not travel overseas to see “the eighth story” (though it’s a little more affordable to do so right now thanks to #Brexit). It also speaks to this important fact: It’s important to see The Cursed Child rather than reading it.

If the show does go to Toronto first as The New York Post suggests it might, a trip to Canada would also be easier for Americans. Sorry, people who don’t live in North America.

This writer saw the play in June and absolutely loved the characters and magic happening on stage. But the story is… not the best. I’m very eager to see what fans, myself included, think of the story after reading the script book this weekend.

For her part, Rowling has promised that fans around the world will get to see the play. Only time will tell if she’s hinting at a movie or a world tour:

If ‘Cursed Child’ comes to Broadway next year, will you try to see it ASAP?

The West End production currently has dates running into May 2017, but additional dates are expected to go on sale in early August.

Present day Han Solo may’ve left the main Star Wars series after the events of The Force Awakens, but the character’s time in movie theaters is far from over.

The new Han Solo film from Lucasfilm — scheduled to hit theaters in May 2018 — might turn into a trilogy for the reluctant hero, according to the New York Daily News.

The paper reports that star Alden Ehrenreich has signed a three-picture deal, suggesting that the studio intends to expand the Han Solo spinoff into a trilogy. “They feel that his character has the right potential to become a central figure in several movies,” a source told NY Daily News. “They’re keeping things under wraps at the moment, but the deal is that he has signed for at least three movies.”

This makes a lot of sense given the popularity of the character coupled with his absence in Episode 8 and beyond. We also know that Lucasfilm and Disney have many, many grand plans for Star Wars in the years ahead: The very first Star Wars theatrical spinoff, Rogue One, opens later this year. Episode 8 then hits theaters a year later (2017), followed by Han Solo’s own movie (2018). Next comes Episode 9 in 2019, followed by yet another spinoff reportedly focused on Boba Fett in 2020.

As for 2021 and beyond? Only time will tell, but we expect more movies set in the worlds of The Force Awakens, Rogue One, and now Han Solo.

The Han Solo spinoff will be directed by LEGO Movie helmers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. They’re currently deep into pre-production, as this tweet from Lord this morning shows:

“This is the first film we’ve worked on that seems like a good idea to begin with,” the directors said last July. “We promise to take risks, to give the audience a fresh experience, and we pledge ourselves to be faithful stewards of these characters who mean so much to us. This is a dream come true for us. And not the kind of dream where you’re late for work and all your clothes are made of pudding, but the kind of dream where you get to make a film with some of the greatest characters ever, in a film franchise you’ve loved since before you can remember having dreams at all.”