Saturday, October 15, 2016

X-Men: Apocalypse

Some spoilers... though there's not much to spoil.

I've finally had to admit to myself that I'm just not a fan of the rebooted X-Men franchise. It seems crazy. How could I not like a superhero franchise? That has so many favorite actors in it no less? I look at that cast of the new X-Men films -- particularly this one -- and think there's no way I could possibly not love the movie they all inhabit. Not to mention they all play such cool characters. Yet, here I am again, underwhelmed after an X-Men movie -- and this one more so than ever.

"What does this button do?" "That makes the movie more interesting. Never push that button Hank."

This time steps up to the plate as the villain: Apocalypse, an ancient, powerful being -- the original mutant, who had been slumbering for the past couple thousand years, but has now been awakened. (Side point: was it actually 's fault he woke up? Cause those men were doing the chanting, but it seemed like to me it only worked because she forgot to close the door and sunlight got in. Like, they've been going down there and chanting daily for hundreds of years, and this is the first time someone accidentally left the door open? Anyway...) Apocalypse doesn't exactly like how earth has changed since he ruled it and means to do some spring cleansing before he takes office.

The most disappointing aspect of this film might actually be that Oscar Isaac is unrecognizable in his role. And I get that in his normal state he doesn't exactly exude the kind of power and menace a character called Apocalypse would require, but seriously, covering his face in prosthetics and digitally changing his voice was not the answer. Cast someone else. Or just let him act. I spent the whole movie trying to recognize him (knowing that it was him!) and it only came through in a brief glimmer one time -- in his voice. He didn't even get to do any acting; he just delivered a bunch of speeches in a deep, digitally altered dramatic voice. Anyone could have done it! The final blow was of course that he didn't have the superpower to grow into a giant like the trailer implied. Turns out the most powerful mutant ever needs others to do everything for him, and can't take on more than one person at a time in a fight.

The only thing he really has is good persuasive skills, to convince people to work for him.

Out of all three of the rebooted X-Men films, this one is oddly the least epic and on the smallest scale. That really surprised me. It's called Apocalypse; shouldn't the scale be, I don't know, apocalyptic? The final battle took place within about a square block -- making the Avengers and Superman jealous I'm sure -- and was so sadly static. It bothers me when superheroes destroy entire cities carelessly, but at least other films do a lot of moving around to produce the destruction. Here, we have the worst of both worlds, with Erik just sitting there and whoom -- everything's destroyed. Then they just kick back and have a battle that would have done very little damage otherwise.

That's the brunt of my complaining. Then there's a few things I'm more neutral to, and a few things I liked. On the neutral front come Charles and Erik. They're the main characters, but they never have interested me much as such. I like and I like what was done with the character of Charles under in this film, but it really seems like they're only the main characters because only gets a cameo. X-Men films are best when they're led by Wolverine, and that's a fact. So the movie spends a lot of time focusing on Charles and Erik, doing the same things they've always done, and while it's not exactly bad, (except for that super unlucky accident that started Erik up on his "villain or no?" arc yet again -- that earned a hearty "come on!" from me) it's not exactly compelling to me either.

You know, now that the timeline has been changed, you don't need to contrive reasons for Erik to be a bad guy...

What I did find compelling was, amazingly, one of the things I was most looking forward to. That is, playing Scott/Cyclops and playing Kurt/Nightcrawler. I was looking forward to them because they're talented actors and since I've already enjoyed the older versions of the characters, I thought it would be neat to see them take the parts. I underestimated how good this aspect would actually be. Firstly, Tye Sheridan was perfect casting for Scott. I actually saw James Marsden in him, like he could actually grow up into him. Characterization could have used so much more, but at least that's a testament to how much potential he had.

And Kurt was even better. He got a small arc, but it was complete and interesting. And seriously, the kid is so charming. He was by far the funniest character (even though Quicksilver was there) and had that adorable naivete and a tragic but unexploited backstory. Right now I just wish this had been like a teen comedy where Scott, Kurt, Jean, and friends do typical high school things with a super-powered twist and then in the end have to go save the day like they do (in the best part of the movie I might add) and that's it. I would watch the heck out of that movie!

The trio. Why couldn't they be the movie's main characters?

I should mention while I'm on the subject that as Jean Grey is very good too. I've never felt the biggest connection with the character, but this version of her is sympathetic and as good as ever. Also as Quicksilver; the problem of his being too powerful to participate in the climax they cut off at the pass, but then they had to backtrack a little, because they didn't want him to actually tell Erik he's his son? Whatever. I still like the characterization, but his big scene felt very much like "Quicksilver Saves the Day: The Sequel." It was bigger, and longer, but by no means better.

It's a strange day when there's a movie starring and and I spend all my time talking about everyone else, but as cool as these two are, they spend this movie treading water so there's not much to say. It's also pretty sad that the politics of the X-Men movies is usually what annoys me, yet this one had next to none and I didn't like the film any better. My overall experience was just enjoying the characters as they came in small doses -- particularly the Scott/Jean/Kurt trio -- being mildly bored in between, and then being underwhelmed by the smallness of the ending. There wasn't a whole lot to hate, and neither was there a whole lot to love.

Quicksilver attempts to save everyone from the movie's wreckage. It's unclear whether he is successful.

Since I'm big on characters, the film manages to tip to the positive side. The plot in uninspired, and a lot of characters were only there because they could be, or because it is expected, but there was enough that was worthwhile to bring the rest of the film along with it. So I guess I'm not an X-Men fan, but right now, that's working out for me. I can still enjoy what I can out of the films, but I'm not invested enough to care when there's failings. The X-Men -- the characters and the talent that portrays them -- deserve better films than ones like this, but until they get them, I'll be taking them as I can for what they are.


  1. Right now I just wish this had been like a teen comedy where Scott, Kurt, Jean, and friends do typical high school things with a super-powered twist and then in the end have to go save the day like they do

    YES! I would love that movie. I was REALLY bummed that Jubilee had such a tiny part, and I thought Sophie Turner was boring and whiny, but Kodi Smit-McPhee was awesome, Michael Fassbender made me cry by singing that lullaby, and Hugh Jackman had more than one minute of screentime, so overall, I liked it well enough.

    1. I know, I'm kinda sad that that thought popped into my head now, because it'll never exist! And yeah, she was hanging out in the teen group but never did anything. I wondered about that. Kodi was definitely the highlight. :D Glad you liked it alright too, Hamlette!