First episode impressions: ‘The Gifted’

Because of a bizarre reticence to turn big-ticket properties into TV series, the 2000 "X-Men" film inspired things like "Mutant X," "Heroes," "No Ordinary Family" and "The Cape" but not an actual "X-Men" series -- until this year. First up was FX's "Legion," a show so confusing I don't know when or on what timeline it takes place. But "The Gifted" (9 p.m. Eastern Mondays on Fox) is more accessible.

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Wolverine trilogy goes out on top with unshackled ‘Logan’

"Logan" (now available on streaming) is the most unconstrained "X-Men" film so far, and – not coincidentally – it's also the best of the saga, which stands at 10 movies and counting (plus one TV show, with a second on the way). I'm a fan of the franchise, but with a lot of my "X-Men" reviews, I have caveats: I say it's good considering how many characters it tried to cram into the story, or it's good considering that it was trying to please a mass audience.

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First episode impressions: ‘Legion’

My first-episode impression of "Legion" (10 p.m. Eastern, Wednesdays, FX) is "What the heck did I just watch?" The 90-minute premiere is undeniably a mess. There's no doubt it's an INTENTIONAL mess, but whether you're willing to stay on this ride will depend entirely on how much you like mind-trip TV shows.

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‘Deadpool’ is not your typical ‘X-Men’ movie – but I guess that’s OK

I never would have guessed Deadpool would be the first "X-Men" character other than Wolverine to get a solo movie. But thanks to actor Ryan Reynolds' unwavering support of the project, here it is, and "Deadpool" -- now available at Redbox – is unlike any other "X-Men" movie. For better or worse? That depends greatly on the moviegoer's taste. But for what it is, it's well done.

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‘X-Men’ films wisely turn attention to individual characters – but they should go even further

When the first "X-Men" movie came out in 2000, I was immediately intrigued by all the colorful, distinct characters and their unique mutant powers, and the possibilities for standalone movies featuring each of the characters. "X-Men" was good on its own, but it was arguably guilty of showing wondrous possibilities more so than satisfying those possibilities; it felt like the tip of the iceberg.

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Mix of old favorites, fresh faces make ‘Apocalypse’ another fun ‘X-Men’ romp

The "X-Men" franchise is now a well-oiled machine for its ninth entry, "X-Men: Apocalypse." Although it has big spectacles – indeed, the fate of humanity is at stake in this one -- it hasn't forgotten that characters, personalities, colorful costumes and creative uses of superpowers drive the saga. While some themes (Is Magneto good or evil? Are humans going to accept or reject mutants?) are old hat, the franchise remains fun.

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‘X-Men’ flashback: ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ (2014) (with emphasis on ‘The Rogue Cut’)

"X-Men: Days of Future Past" (2014) is the most ambitious and complex "X-Men" movie, and "The Rogue Cut" – released last month on DVD and Bluray – only emphasizes that further.

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‘X-Men’ flashback: ‘The Wolverine’ (2013)

When "Origins: Wolverine" came out in 2009, many fans assumed it would be the start of a series of "Origins" films focusing on individual "X-Men" characters. That hasn't materialized yet, but Wolverine himself is so popular that the second solo "X-Men" outing also focuses on him: 2013's "The Wolverine." While I'm an "Origins" apologist, I have to admit this is a much better film.

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‘X-Men’ flashback: ‘X-Men: The Last Stand’ (2006)

We now arrive at the capper of the original "X-Men" trilogy, "X-Men: The Last Stand" (2006). It's a widely maligned film, partly because it's the first to introduce plot holes into the saga. Beast is human in "X2," but mutant here. Xavier resurrects himself in the post-credits scene, but how did he do it? Although I'm not enamored by the most-hyped element of "The Last Stand" – the adaptation of the famed Dark Phoenix comic-book plot – I think the film is decent, with more graspable ideas than "X2" despite peppering the screen with even more new mutants than its predecessor.

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‘X-Men’ flashback: ‘X2: X-Men United’ (2003)

Director Bryan Singer follows up the near-perfect "X-Men" with a 2003 sequel that's so epically overblown and lacking in focus that it doesn't even know what to call itself: I'll go with "X2: X-Men United," but the opening titles say it's just "X2" and IMDB and the novelization by Chris Claremont call it "X-Men 2."

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