Well, I guess it’s time to stop delaying the inevitable and just review X-Men: Apocalypse NOW.
Hey, if I wasn’t gonna make the terrible pun, someone else will, so I saved you the trouble. You’re welcome.
Also, this is my 5oth post for Philling In on WordPress. Hooray! Lol.
Anyway, all kidding aside, time to review X-Men: Apocalypse. Is it just me, or has the summer of 2016 been more like the “summer of meh” at times? I’m not saying every movie that came out over the summer has been bad, but it’s just some feeling I’ve been getting, and I don’t think X-Men: Apocalypse has helped matters.
Before I get into the review, I’m gonna address a “controversial” matter here. A while back there was a poster for the film showing Apocalypse (played by Oscar Isaac) choking Mystique (played by Jennifer Lawrence). Living in this day and age, of course that’s something for SJWs, including actress Rose McGowan, to get up in arms about it and demand for the poster to be taken down because it promotes “violence against women”. I’m not an expert on stuff like this, but I don’t think this is something to get upset about. First, if the people upset about this had done their research, or knew anything about the X-Men and stories featuring them, or saw the actual friggin movie, or were aware of countless other pieces of media, like comics, movies, video games, etc., featuring similar imagery of a bad guy holding up someone by their neck, be it male OR female, then they’d know that this is nothing new, that it’s been done for a long time, and will probably continue to happen. Second, while Mystique has been portrayed as traditionally female, she is a shape-shifter, able to change her physical appearance and apparent sex/gender, so doesn’t this make her technically gender neutral? Third, the villain of the movie, Apocalypse, attacks the heroes of the film, both male AND female, so really anyone who is against him, regardless of gender, are his enemies. Fourth, not every female in the history of fiction are depicted as helpless, a lot of them are the most kickass characters in fiction, and this is especially true for female X-Men characters. Fifth, if the poster showed Apocalypse choking Professor X, Beast, Cyclops, Magneto, Quicksilver (whose leg gets broken by Apocalypse, btw), or any other character, would these same SJWs get upset that the poster was promoting “violence against men”, “violence against cripples”, “violence against Jews”, and all that? Probably not. I know I’m a guy, so my opinion would probably count for shit on this, but I just thought I’d say my piece and that this really isn’t something to get upset over.
Over the years the X-Men movies have seen their fair share of ups and downs. Along with the Blade movies, the X-Men film franchise helped revive the comic book movie. Because of them, they’ve become more relevant and are made better, depending on which film and point of view, of course. They do have their faults, but there’s no denying the impact they’ve had. Heck, if it weren’t for them, Marvel probably wouldn’t have scrounged up all the properties they still had the rights to, form their own movie studio, and launch the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Like others, I still yearn for the day that the X-Men could be integrated somehow into the MCU and be done differently, if not better, than how Fox has done them. Until then, we still have to watch whatever is put out next that Fox dishes out. So far, after nearly two decades of doing these movies, Deadpool has probably been the most “superheroesque” of the X-Men movies, and really if the X-Men characters in that film were taken out, it probably wouldn’t change much. The first two X-Men movies were great, the third and that Wolverine Origins movie sucked, First Class was a fresh start, The Wolverine was better than Origins (so take that as you will), DOFP was phenomenal, and Deadpool might just be the best one in my opinion. So where does that leave this movie? Well, it’s no Last Stand or Origins, but it ain’t no DOFP (or DOFP: Rogue Cut).
Just to check, am I gonna have to keep making rants and/or tangents about movies like these and the editing and/or pacing in them? Because I’m getting sick of it. Just stop it already! Either learn how to edit a movie properly or get out. I watch a movie to WATCH A MOVIE, not some jumbled mess some idiot in the editing room cooked up that is almost incomprehensible and confusing to watch. If stuff is gonna get cut out, then make it stuff that really serves no purpose to the overall story. I know this kinda sounds subjective, but in this movie’s case, and a bunch of others that came out this year and other times before it, it’s probably a valid point.
After the resurgence Fox has had with the X-Men movies, starting with First Class, continuing with The Wolverine, and the juggernaut (get it?) that was DOFP, what does it all culminate to in this movie? Basically, it’s the X-Men movie equivalent to Avengers: Age of Ultron. Heck, I could just sum this up in bullet points:
-movie sequel that is riding on the awesomeness of the previous movie and is pretty good but not quite as epic
-setup for future movies (which isn’t bad in of itself sometimes, just a bit too obvious here) rather than a self-contained story and a so-so conclusion to whatever arc was going on with last few movies
-Dialogue that’s awkward, clunky, and expository
-“Big” villain that while genuinely creepy and powerful and portrayed well by the actor playing him, feels a bit lacking and posturing at the same time, wants to destroy the world because “humanity ruins everything” blah blah blah. And he gets defeated by the female psychic who is unsure of herself, her powers, future, etc., and manages to resolve all that near the end due to encouragement from a seasoned hero
-Lots of characters crammed in. Some have a clear direction where to go, some feel like they’re just, well, “there”, and some that are kind of a big deal in comics end up getting killed
-the villain’s lackeys turn on him when they realize what an “asshole” he is. Gee, his freaky appearance and wanting to destroy the world wasn’t a dead giveaway?
-Final battle is in a wartorn landscape
-Feels like parts of the movie were cut out that would’ve given it better context
-Outshined by the other comic book movie, the funny one, set in this universe, that has a bit of a generic plot, about a snarky guy with a heart of gold who is AWESOME
-Ends with the next generation of iconic team preparing for their adventures, with the camera doing individual establishing shots to emphasize that they’re individuals and the next generation and all that. Plus the secret ending regarding the next main villain and his evil plans after the chaos that happened in this movie
And that’s pretty much all this movie is. For all that Fox is trying to do to keep the X-Men out of Marvel’s hands, they’re sure trying to do stuff that Marvel is doing with their movies, only at least Marvel does a somewhat better job at it. I bet they were even gonna call it “Age of Apocalypse” and have it be an original story while not being based on the storyline from the comics it’s named after, much like Avengers 2 did, but I guess they changed their minds. Honestly, it probably would’ve been better if they did adapt the Age of Apocalypse storyline. Sure, it’d be like DOFP only with Apocalypse, but it’d probably be better than what this movie ended up being.
What’s probably a really big problem for this movie is that it’s basically a moot point. At the end of DOFP, when the timeline is altered so that the future looks honky dory and mostly everyone is alive and happy, then whatever happens in this movie kinda becomes pointless considering mostly everyone that’s in this movie survives it. Yeah I know the end of DOFP only showed a select group of characters alive and well and made it a question of who else survived, but the idea still stands. As exciting as it was the post-credits scene hinted at Apocalypse being the villain for the next movie, maybe it would’ve been better if this movie had been set in that happy future instead of saving that setting for the third Wolverine movie and having this movie be another period piece like the last two, only this time it’s the 80s.
I’ve wanted to see Apocalypse appear in the X-Men movies for a LONG time. If there’s any villain the X-Men have ever faced that’s more threatening than Magneto, it’s Apocalypse. Now that he finally has, it’s kinda disappointing. Oscar Isaac does a great job with the material given, but it just feels lackluster. He’s more like some creepy old guy you’d encounter at the train station or riding on the bus with, he won’t shut the fuck up or stop staring at you, and you just want to get out of there as soon as possible. The makeup on him looks alright, but maybe it would’ve been better to just render him in motion capture like the Hulk, that way he’d at least look huge like he is in the comics. Him being about the same height as the other characters doesn’t make him that threatening. It’s like Ultron from Avengers 2, only without the humor of James Spader. I will say this, though: at least there’s an X-Men villain in this movie that’s the main bad guy who isn’t Magneto. And again, he’s a villain who wants to destroy humanity and start the world over because humanity screws everything up, blah blah blah. Great, another annoying trend with these movies that WON’T EVER END.
EDIT: Still, with Apocalypse being an ancient Egyptian ruler that’s woken up after sleeping for thousands of years and is threatening the world in the 80s, I guess this lends credence to Linkara’s claims of the true menace to the world: ANCIENT EGYPT! [Imperial March theme playing]
And speaking of tropes the X-Men movies are known for, that being about focusing the story on a select group of characters, that being about 3-4, with a lot of focus in particular on a certain character who’s gotten popular with audiences or the “star power” of the person portraying that character. Before, it was Wolverine (played by Hugh Jackman), and nowadays, especially with this movie, it’s Mystique (played by Jennifer Lawrence). As I mentioned in my Joy review, I don’t hate Jennifer Lawrence. I like her, she’s great in the movies she’s in, but it’s like something is out there trying to cram her down everyone’s throats. And this movie doesn’t help with that. The movie and almost everything about it is trying to put Mystique on some pedestal, like she’s a goddess for “saving” mutants back in the events of DOFP, just because she didn’t shoot Bolivar Trask? Did they forget that speech Magneto made that pretty much got every mutant to get up off their ass and do something with their lives and not take all the bigotry they receive? Where’s his recognition? And yeah I know he was gonna kill the government people and Trask, but still. Oh wait he’s out in hiding for some reason and living with his family who are obviously not there to get killed or anything (that’s sarcasm, so of course they get killed and he’s on a “kill humans” mindset again). Yeah, Mystique was trying to do that too, by killing a guy that would’ve caused Sentinels to hunt them down. She didn’t kill him because Professor X convinced her not to. Even in the movie, Mystique acts like she doesn’t deserve to be regarded as a hero and all the attention she gets from everyone. It’s ironic seeing this happen in the movie, especially knowing how Jennifer Lawrence wants out of her X-Men contract and hardly appears in her Mystique makeup throughout most of it, given her comments about dealing with the fumes and other problems that come with it. This results in hardly much focus on the other characters, even Nightcrawler, because isn’t he supposed to be her son or something? They don’t even address that or why she’s focused on saving him other than it’s what she does for other mutants.
When DOFP did the “10 years later” thing, it kinda made sense. It was actually kinda addressed what happened to these characters, what got them to the point they were in before the plot came rolling along. With this movie, they do the gimmick again, only I’m filled with nothing but questions. How did Professor X and Beast get the school up and running again? Why is Angel doing cage fights in Germany? Isn’t his dad a gazillionaire? I know they have issues with each other, but say what you will about Last Stand, at least that movie showed he cared about his son to some extent and would do a lot for him. Why does William Stryker suddenly show up at the X-Mansion after Professor X sent his telepathic message through Apocalypse to the world? How did he show up so fast? What happened to him at the end of DOFP? Didn’t Mystique impersonate him? Why does he only take Mystique, Beast, Moira, and Quicksilver? How did Wolverine end up in Weapon X if he was being handled by Mystique? Why would she give up her own mutantkind to the government to be experimented on? Isn’t that part of what she fought against in the previous movie? Why is Magneto living in seclusion with his family? Why aren’t the Horsemen selected in this movie called by their actual Horsemen names? Why does Archangel die from a friggin helicopter crash when he could’ve flown out of it? If that was supposed to be ironic, then it’s stupid. Didn’t Apocalypse “enhance” him so he couldn’t get hurt by it? Is he really dead? Why couldn’t they make his skin blue like in the comics? Did the filmmakers think there’d be too many “blue mutants” or something? What’s one more to add on the four (Beast, Mystique, Nightcrawler, Apocalypse; there’s also a Four Horsemen joke somewhere, maybe a Blue Man group joke too) they have already? Also, nice to know that some of the most iconic characters of the X-Men don’t even become X-Men by the end of the movie, like Psylocke and Angel. For that matter, where does Psylocke go? Does she know Apocalypse was evil all along? How old are any of the surviving characters from First Class? They really don’t look that much different in this movie. Did Havok die in this movie? There’s no body, and as stories like this go, “if there’s no corpse, the guy’s alive.” Also, is Apocalypse really the first mutant? For a movie that wants to explore the origins of mutants in this universe, it feels kind of like an afterthought. If Professor X was gonna feel bad about erasing Moira’s memories and check on her like a friggin stalker, then why did he do it in the first place? Why doesn’t Quicksilver tell Magneto he’s his son? That would’ve saved a lot of time and gotten Magneto to snap out of it sooner, especially considering he’s with Apocalypse to avenge his family that was killed. If Professor X became bald because Apocalypse attempted to take over his body in this timeline, does that mean it happened in the original timeline as well? This movie raises more questions than it does answers, and therein lies part of the problem.
EDIT: Another big question (on top of all the others I got) is where the heck did Apocalypse get the technology to switch bodies in this movie? I know hardcore comic book fans would know this, but to a casual movie audience, this is going to make them question it. It can’t just be thrown in there, it has to have some reasoning as to how and why it got there.
X-Men: Apocalypse is suffering from “franchise fatigue”. There’s really no other way to put it. I do like parts of this movie, the performances from the cast, the visuals are great, and it does give some excitement for what’s to come. Quicksilver (played by Evan Peters) was by far the best part of the movie, especially in another “speed rescue” scene that easily tops the one in DOFP. But it has problems with trying to tell its own story or even be a conclusion to whatever trilogy that started with First Class since it ends with the supposed “next generation” about to embark on their own adventures and giving a sneak peak at Mr. Sinister being the bad guy in the third Wolverine movie, possibly the Gambit movie if that ever gets made, and whatever else is planned for the X-Men movies in the future by Fox and delaying the inevitable of them being reacquired by Marvel if that ever happens. Seeing as how there’s gonna be New Mutants and X-Force spinoffs, the Legion TV series on FX, another X-Men sequel set in the 90s which’ll be [invoking epic voice] IN SPACE, readapting The Dark Phoenix Saga (yeah the movie kinda hints that sometimes), or possibly have Proteus as the villain (also hinted at), and a Deadpool sequel (that one I’m actually excited for), then I guess it’s wait and see.