X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Sophie Turner, Oscar Isaac, Olivia Munn
Directed by: Bryan Singer (X-Men, X-Men: Days of Future Past, The Usual Suspects)
Synopsis: Ancient mutant Apocalypse is reawakened in the
modern times 1980’s and it’s up to Professor X’s team of mutants to thwart him from “cleansing the world.”
Minor Spoilers Below!
What doesn’t work:
- Let’s talk about “time” for a minute and ways the theme of time don’t work for this film. The length of the flick was a mind-boggling 144 minutes. The pacing of this flick was atrociously bad. I feel like we went from one new mutant to another or catching up to one from an earlier flick every 4 minutes in the first half hour. And in all these fast-paced scenes there was very little character development. I can’t even remember if Olivia Munn, who played Psylocke, even had any lines. After he’s resurrected, Apocalypse basically bumps into a young Storm and recruits her on the spot. In fact all his minions basically join him within moments of meeting him. It’s all very disjointed, rushed and weak and boring storytelling. Apocalypse whizzes around the globe finding his horsemen or confronting Professor X willy-nilly and it just feels lame. While I feel like they did just an OK job of recreating the 1980s vibe, I thought they did a much better job of doing the 60s in First Class and the 70s in Days of Future Past. It’s as if they treated the 80s more of a background joke like having a tonally-inappropriate use of the Eurythmics’ song “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” in the new Quicksilver-scene-stealing scene and having Nightcrawler wear the infamous Michael Jackson “Beat It” jacket.
- People are giving praise to Oscar Isaac as Apocalypse and I can’t really agree. I like Isaac a lot but even before I watched the movie, I knew from trailers and photos that he looked ridiculous. But be as that may, his performance was just OK. All sturm und drang, sound and fury signifying nothing. I’m still not entirely sure what his ultimate plan was. He kept saying cleanse the Earth but that’s an odd plan. So he wants to wipe away the weak individuals and only keep the strong—to do what exactly? If there’s more strong people, meaning mutants, than what would an Earth populated like that be exactly for him? That seems like way too many opportunities for him to be overthrown if more strong beings are around. There can be a very heavy and profound discussion based on this scheme but I’m stopping there. However, instead of making Isaac like the goofy and grandiose character like Apocalypse is portrayed in the comic books, they should’ve made him more realistic and human-like. My idea is to make him a very charismatic cult leader and elaborate more on his mutant philosophies. Like a Mutant Jim Jones. Then the whole movie could revolve around both Magneto and Professor X and the other mutants express either a like opinion or totally disagree with Apocalypse. And by the end he has a huge enough cult to attack human-kind and then you can reveal his true blue faced form if need be. Subtlety would’ve been way better than the cartoon portrayal they opted with.
- I won’t go into details because of the quick review but I didn’t like the new Nightcrawler (compared to Alan Cumming’s from X2), nor did I care for the new Cyclops (very boring). In fact because of the rushed plot, most of these characters were underused, especially in battle but also lacked a good depth of character development in this 144 minute movie. And again they brought back fan-favorite Quicksilver from Days of Future Past and again, tried to strike lightning twice with a great slow-motion action scene. While it was a great scene it was like, I’ve seen this guy already steal the show in the last picture and now they’re doing it again. Plus, like I mentioned, it played for laughs inappropriately with the “Sweet Dreams” song playing while he’s trying to save lives as the X-Mansion is exploding. It’s like Singer and company really really wanted to duplicate the success of Days of Future Past so badly with an almost better slow-motion scene. They also tried in van, to give him a plot by trying to connect with his father who happens to be Magento and that turned into a big ball of nothing.
- Speaking of scene stealing, as you can tell from the latest trailer, Wolverine was shoe-horned into the plot. (There should a mutant called Shoehorn who can magically appear into a scene for no reason) When Colonel Stryker apprehends the X-Men and takes them to his Canadian Weapon X lair, while trying to escape the kids unleash a very pissed off Logan who goes berserker on all of Stryker’s men before Jean Grey calms him down and lets him run off into the woods in his skivvies. While I loved the scene as a Wolverine fan it wasn’t necessary to the plot and was only there as fan service and give Hugh Jackman his 8th time donning the claws and giving him the excuse to keep up his great physique. To be fair, this scene both works AND not works. While the film is long and boring this scene actually lifted up my spirits despite it being superfluous.
- I have a feeling they really don’t know what to do with Magento at this point. Is he friend or foe? The answer is always both but in the original trilogy of X-Men flicks he was always more on the evil side of the coin, causing the problems that the X-Men had to solve or fight. In this new trilogy, he’s more on the good side and sympathetic but they try so hard to make him bad but it always feels weak to me. I believe I complained briefly about this rushed evil transformation at the end of Days of Future Past and in this film it’s even more rushed and convoluted. In the beginning of the film he’s hiding in his native Poland with a wife and child. A few scenes later he accidentally reveals his powers saving a coworker and the police try to apprehend him and kill his family giving Magneto new reason to hate human-kind and join Apocalypse. Fine. Whatever. But while he’s doing Apocalyse’s bidding at the final battle, he somehow changes his mind (I frankly cannot remember exactly why, which leads me to believe it was just because) and works alongside the X-Men to defeat him. He’s one of the best villain’s of all time that has such a great inner-conflict for who he is and what he stands for and yet, they have been squandering him for the past two flicks. Maybe it’s because Jennifer Lawrence is taking more of a center-stage role since First Class. I love the frenemy aspect of he and Charles Xavier and their conflicting philosophies and wish they played more with those ideas. I feel like the past X-Men movies were more about human’s fear of mutants that put them at odds and that’s what drove the plots of those movies. In this one, it’s just a piss-poor villain of the week sort of deal. Probably why I didn’t like it at all.
- I am really struggling to come up with anything positive to say about this movie. It’s not as bad as Batman v. Superman because it has some bright and decent moments like the Quicksilver and Wolverine scenes but those scenes were more or less shoe-horned in what is a very boring movie. Really most of the problem is that I really enjoyed the last 2 X-Men movies so much that this one was such a let-down, plot-wise, character-wise and action-wise. If anything, this film gets a pass because it sets up for a possible great movie next by showing that Jean Grey has the Phoenix Force and is learning to unleash it. If they re-do the Dark Phoenix saga that X-Men: The Last Stand botched so badly, that could be a great story to tell if done right. Like how Days of Future Past is a tremendously great comic book story, so is The Dark Phoenix Saga. Apocalypse was never a great villain to begin with and they never improved on his character for the screen. They also teased us with the Danger Room in the finale so they could do more with that in the next flick. And the post-credits scene hinted at the next potential villain so we’ll see where they go from here.
Overall: So yeah, it’s not a great movie and is borderline schlock. But that’s something that neither Batman v. Superman or the latest Fantastic Four ever achieved. I could rewatch X-Men: Apocalypse again and maybe find more that I could enjoy from it but never with those other two aforementioned piles of shit. When I exited the theatre I was disappointed for sure but I feel like this X-Men movie is the closest they came to duplicating the tone and feel of an actual comic book that I ever seen. The rushed scenes with the heavy-handed dialogue seems so close to the way the old comic books were illustrated and written. Having the villain magically appear out of thin air is totally what the comics would do. Having a conflicted villain change allegiance so quickly…again just like a comic book story for kids. They should re-edit the film with thought bubbles and maybe that would help the character development. And with the weak character development, it also feel like one is reading a mini-series of an X-Men comic book without every having read the previous issues and not knowing too much about these returning characters. While I wouldn’t recommend rushing out to see X-Men: Apocalypse, I also wouldn’t tell anyone to avoid it, especially if one is an X-Men or comic book fan.
Score: 4.5 short hours to rebuild the exploded X-Mansion by using mutant powers (out of 10)