Let’s talk about X-Men: Apocalypse. The first thing I have to say is that it’s pretty unheard of for me to dislike an X-Men movie. With the exception of the bone claws, I actually liked X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Please don’t throw tomatoes at me. I do dislike X-Men: Last Stand, but I genuinely enjoy the social commentary, and I think Pyro with 90s frosted tips is pretty amusing. That being said, I started to dislike Apocalypse about halfway through. Now, I really enjoy falling in love with movies that get bad reviews. I love bad movies. I like bad acting and plot holes. Seriously. But my problems with Apocalypse go way beyond that. So let’s get started.
I was pretty sold on the cast of characters who had already shown their faces in the last two films: Xavier, Quicksilver, Beast, Havoc. All except Mystique, but I’ll get there. My problem really rested with the new recruits. First off, what exactly does Bryan Singer have against Angel? I know he wasn’t around for the joke that was Angel’s storyline in Last Stand, but all we get from him now is a villain plotline? And not even a good one? Throw in this creepy version of Storm who watches Apocalypse slaughter four men and then offers him a Coke, and we’ve stepped far out of my comfort zone. Shudder. I think my biggest problem was that none of the new cast members felt real to me. It felt like the franchise was trying to pull in every big name actor they could instead of finding people who really fit the parts, starting with Sophie Turner, who I think is pretty cool, but who I really just couldn’t see as Jean. She’s a little too pleasant to be housing the power of Phoenix. And while I adore Oscar Isaac, I was not down with the make-up choices there. I couldn’t stop looking at the awkward shape of his mouth.
But my biggest character issues were with Magneto and Mystique. Maybe it’s because the studio just can’t stand such attractive people playing villains, but really, why spend an entire movie focusing on Erik’s redemption plot just to have it all essentially erased when looking at the franchise as a whole. Have we forgotten where Magneto was in X-Men, kidnapping Rogue and trying to turn every person on the planet into a mutant? Let the man be evil, jeez. And Mystique? I wouldn’t be so upset about her being a hero if the story arc was actually believable, but she gets zero character development in this film. Her purpose is to run around looking for traces of Magneto, trying to get him back. Stepping back and looking at Mystique from film one, Magneto was always Mystique’s number one priority (if you couldn’t tell from her taking that bullet for him in Last Stand, still one of the most heartbreaking scenes of the whole franchise), but it felt a little embarrassing in a film that’s also trying to mold her into a role model for these little mini x-men. Any minute now, they’re going to build a shrine to her in front of the school. But the plot can’t have it both ways: she’s either a serious hero or she’s Magneto’s lapdog. And while I’m usually a huge Jennifer Lawrence fan and genuinely liked her in First Class and Days of Future Past, were they trying to make her into a Katniss Everdeen clone in this movie? Braided hair? Same body armor? Same speeches about bravery and doing what’s right? Way to recycle her most popular character.
The thing about the plot of Apocalypse was that it seriously lacked imagination. This was the film that was going to introduce the biggest, baddest villain, and in a way they did. And then immediately maneuvered themselves into a corner by making him virtually indestructible. Except someone calling himself God literally needs mutant henchmen in order to continue existing. What part of this screams God? And when he goes looking for these henchmen, he recruits a bunch of children? Four horsemen, give me a break. He can sense these mutants (Angel, Storm, Magneto, and Psylocke) and what they need for their powers to be brought to their full potential, but he can’t sense the power lurking in the mind of Jean Grey? Fishy. Literally half the movie is Apocalypse building his “army” while in Westchester, Professor X is showing Cyclops how to be my least favorite character. But back to Apocalypse. So they build Apocalypse up so much that he’s virtually unbeatable and then have to whip a rabbit out of hat in order to defeat him, a feat which is impressive since up until now, the best thing Xavier had up his sleeve was a literal battle of the minds. In conclusion, after the convoluted plot of Days of Future Past, this just felt like a recycling of First Class, and not even in a good way. To be completely honest, it felt like The Mummy with mutants.
But alas! I will leave you with a little bit of hope. Because, really and truly, I think this film is worth watching, and I’ll give you three reasons why.
- Nightcrawler. While I was a fan of X2’s Alan Cumming as Nightcrawler, teenage Nightcrawler is just about the most adorable thing I’ve ever seen and really acts as the only comic relief here. I was genuinely impressed by his development.
- Quicksilver. While I hate that his connection to Magneto was used as a plot device while other familial connections throughout the series have been dreadfully ignored, Quicksilver gets the award for Coolest Mutant, a sentiment which Bryan Singer clearly shares as Quicksilver’s introduction is one of the longest-running action shots in the film, coming second only to the final battle.
- Michael Fassbender. I may not agree with what they did with Magneto’s character in the film, but Fassbender is a reason to see any movie, good or bad (some of us even sat through the horror of Jonah Hex for him). He’s a real cinematic gem, and I’d watch this movie a hundred times for him as Magneto, the only person who can make Wolverine take backseat as the sexiest mutant in this franchise.
Sorry to rant, but I must admit that my passion for this series runs deep, and I’m more than just a little disappointed at this addition. Here’s hoping the next two (another Wolverine film and one more with the original cast) can pull us back up.
~ Polaris Rex ~