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Non-Review Review: Radioactive

This film was seen as part of the Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival 2020. Given the high volumes of films being shown and the number of reviews to be written, these may end up being a bit shorter than usual reviews.

The life of Marie Curie is fascinating. Radioactive is not.

Curie is easily one of the great figures of the twentieth century, a scientist who changed the way in which mankind fundamentally understood the workings of the universe. That is no small accomplishment, and there is plenty of dramatic fodder to be found in her personal life; the manner in which she was marginalised by the scientific community because of her gender, her complicated relationship with Pierre Curie, even the tabloid scandal that defined so much of her later life. There are any number of interesting angles through which a biopic might approach Curie.

Unfortunately, Radioactive is greedy. Jack Thorne’s screenplay doesn’t just want to encompass the totality of Curie itself, the script hopes to offer something close to a cinematic biography of radiation itself. There is no doubt that Radioactive is ambitious, with director Marjane Satrapi even trying to break up scenes of exposition with helpful cinematic illustrations of the concepts under discussion. However, there is simply too much to cover. Radioactive struggles to maintain a consistent throughline, often feeling like a bullet point summary of Curie’s Wikipedia page rather than a compelling narrative of itself.

Radioactive could use some refining.

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Roy Thomas & Neal Adams’ X-Men – X-Men Omnibus, Vol. 2 (Review/Retrospective)

This May, to celebrate the release of X-Men: Days of Future Past, we’re taking a look at some classic and modern X-Men (and X-Men-related) comics. Check back daily for the latest review.

Roy Thomas and Neal Adams (with the odd fill-in here and there) brought the first era of the X-Men to a close. At the end of their run, editor Martin Goodman would cancel the title due to low sales, only to bring it back as a reprint magazine a few months later. The title would continue as a reprint magazine until the publisher decided to resurrect it with Len Wein and Dave Cockrum’s Giant-Sized X-Men and Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum’s subsequent revival of the original magazine.

The last stretch of issues on this initial run is fascinating. While it lacks the raw energy and sense of direction of Claremont’s early work on the title, it’s easy to argue that Thomas and Adams helped to pave the way for their successors. Thomas and Adams’ X-Men lacks focus and vision, but it does have its own quirky style. The duo would introduce and tease all sorts of ideas that would remain with the X-Men after the cancellation and into the revival.

Suit up...

Suit up…

It may be too much to credit Thomas and Adams with saving or redeeming the franchise – although, apparently sales were increasing during their run- but their influence on the creators that followed is obvious. There are a number of clever ideas and premises that were effectively introduced by the duo, which would become almost expected from an X-Men comic book. Even if it seemed like Thomas and Adams were really just making it up on the fly, their work fits quite comfortably with what would follow.

It may not have been enough to save the mutants at that moment in time, but one could argue that it did provide Claremont with a solid base to build from.

They certainly do...

They certainly do…

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Ultimate Origins (Review/Retrospective)

This May, to celebrate the release of X-Men: Days of Future Past, we’re taking a look at some classic and modern X-Men (and X-Men-related) comics. Check back daily for the latest review.

Ultimatum effectively brought an end to the first stage of life for Marvel’s Ultimate Universe. To be fair, Ultimate X-Men and Ultimate Fantastic Four had both cycled through multiple creative teams by that point, but Ultimatum was the book that effectively drew a line under a certain era of Marvel’s Ultimate Universe. Ultimate Spider-Man, Ultimate X-Men and Ultimate Fantastic four were all cancelled in the wake of the massive end, marking it as the end of an era.

As such, it made sense to go back to the start of the line – to task writer Brian Michael Bendis to craft an origin for this shared spin-off universe. With Ultimatum killing off so many characters and so radically altering the status quo, it made sense to go back to the beginning and offer a glimpse at the formative moments of this alternate universe. The Ultimate Universe had been built from the ground up, so it made sense that the continuity all fit together.

A Magnetic personality...

A Magnetic personality…

While Ultimate Origins offered a series of insights and revelations that radically altered (or expanded) the back story of almost every corner of the Ultimate publishing line, Brian Michael Bendis’ Ultimate Origins undoubtedly had the most profound implications for the characters of Ultimate X-Men. While the characters from Ultimate Spider-Man or The Ultimates could go back to something approximating business as usual, those characters would never be the same again.

Offering an explanation for the mutant genome that would alter the context of mutants and play into the climax of Ultimatum, Ultimate Origins represents something radical and distinct from mainstream Marvel publishing. In a way, it feels like it is playing into the mission statement of Ultimatum – redefining the Ultimate line so as to distinguish the Ultimate Universe from its mainstream counterpart. This is no long a streamlined and cleaned up alternative; it is something radically different.

Carry on...

Carry on…

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