Being honest, I’m not a big fan of the X-Men movies. I can’t deny that X-Men (2000) was a real game changer for superhero movies. Good actors, a decent script that didn’t attempt to water things down too much, and a good young director in Bryan Singer – and, of course, the breakout performance of Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. 2003’s X2: X-Men United, the year after Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man built on that, and paved the way for the genre being the annual cinematic staple it now is. But by the time X- Men: The Last Stand (2006) came around, I was more than a little tired of seeing the same good guys versus the same bad guys, not to mention the liberties they took with one of the greatest superhero story arcs of all time, “The Dark Phoenix Saga” from (Uncanny X-Men #129-138, 1980, By Chris Claremont, John Byrne, and Terry Austin). I felt mentally disconnected with Fox’s versions of the characters, and the direction of the movies.
The series rebooted with X-Men: First Class in 2011, with a new time period, new actors … but the same X-Men V Magneto dynamic of the prior series, and created a massive timeline problem that still hasn’t been resolved as of the newest release, X-Men: Apocalypse. I’ve mostly checked out while watching this latest incarnation, I admit. I’m mostly annoyed by it. I’m annoyed by the fakeness of the periods these movies have been set in. It’s kind of like Fox are so lazy about the moviemaking that all they do is slap a date on at the start of the movie, then forget about any real attempt to authentically recreate that time period on film. Beyond any cultural and historical references, the movies don’t look they were set in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, and that annoys me, because it isn’t like Fox doesn’t have money, and it isn’t like they don’t think these movies will make money.
Aside from this, there is a list of things that bother me about these movies. Ready? Let’s go!
How many times do we need Professor Xavier tell Magneto that there’s good deep down inside of him, only for Magneto to deny it, do some bad things, before joining the fight against the real bad guy for a nice little chat again at the end? It was stale the first time around, and in this series it feels absolutely done to death. I get that the character has done the same thing in the comics, but movie after movie it becomes way too familiar.
BIG STUFF HAPPENS ALL THE TIME! I can’t believe it’s only me who’s tired of seeing the X-Men save the world from giant, apocalyptic destruction in these reboot movies. I would like to see an X-Men movie where the cast is smaller and the movie is all about them facing the loss of something near and dear to them. Alas, I don’t think this will be the case. The movies have become a real chore to sit through, as building after building is crushed into powder, missiles get launched from silos, and movie after movie, THIS IS IT! Only for the day to be saved and the world to go back to normalcy pretty soon after.
Why the hell did they make Quicksilver (unnamed so far in the series) so ridiculously powerful (in that admittedly terrific scene from Days of Future Past), then have him sit out the rest of the movie, but then make him even more powerful in Apocalypse (he’s apparently super strong as well now). It’s like Fox have just decided that there’s no real benefit in trying to make a coherent, well constructed movie. All that matters are cool scenes with lots of destruction.
Money is no object for the X-Men. Apparently, they have a bottomless pit of money with which they can simply just spend to build cool new stuff, with a scientific prowess they don’t seem to care to share with the rest of the world. These elements all come off as simply existing for the sake of convenience, to cover what would otherwise be giant plot holes with the screenwriting equivalent.
And this brings me neatly – finally – to X-Men: Apocalypse. Written by the absolutely talentless Simon Kinberg (Fantastic Four, 2015), all of these elements are thrown up on the screen in some kind of weird, unstructured, undisciplined mess of a movie. Clocking in at over two and half hours, and full of new characters, massive destruction, a pep talk between the Prof and Magneto, unbelievably stupid plot points MILD SPOILERS: Angel in the cockpit of a plane that crashes to the ground nose down, then explodes, is seen later among the wreckage with a couple of scratches. Psylocke, who has some kind of whip that can cut through brick and mortar, wraps said whip around a character’s neck, but uses it like a rope. Huh? She’s trying to kill the guy, why not use it the way she literally just used it?
And Oscar Isaac as the titular bad guy is wasted. Yeah, he’s got some gravitas, and the beginning scene is Egypt 3,000 years ago is pretty good, but after that he doesn’t do enough. The movie spends so much time on other scenes that don’t do much to further the archplot (or justify the running time) that when you get to see Isaac, he does little else but chew the scenery – yet when he wields his power, all I could wonder was why he really needed help in the first place. He is depicted as having total control over matter in a fairly wide range. What, he couldn’t just dissolve the bodies of his enemies? I don’t get it. Almost everything about this movie is weak and underdone. I can blame Kinberg’s atrocious screenplay, yet, it was greenlit and directed, so whose fault is it all really?
So yeah, this bloated, melodramatic (sometimes laughably so) piece of drivel somehow takes everything that was wrong about the first two in this rebooted series and works them into every scene. It’s a depressing piece of big budget moviemaking, soulless and uninvolving to the extreme, and I hope they just decide to end the series now, but I know they won’t.
Crass ending comment, though. As much I mostly disliked this movie, Olivia Munn absolutely kills the look of Psylocke, even though the script doesn’t even come close to capturing the character. She’s spectacularly, breathtakingly gorgeous in this movie, and I hate myself for saying it, but I would gladly watch two and half hours of her onscreen – even if Simon Kinberg wrote it. She gets a solid 5/5, but the movie itself only gets
2 thoughts on “Movie Review: X-MEN: APOCALYPSE”
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