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X-Men’s Apocalypse

tn_xmenapocI remember when the first X-MEN movie came out I went to it expecting something stupid but enjoyable, along the lines of MORTAL KOMBAT. Instead it was a fun super hero movie with a star-making performance by Hugh Jackman and a really appealing premise: super-powered mutants are a minority, feared and endangered by the government, and split between two factions led by old friends/bitter rivals (both played by older Shakespearean actors) who have philosophical disagreements about how to deal with that.

The sequels continued to mine this material in interesting ways. Part 2 had me talking about the USA PATRIOT Act in the review. Part 3, though widely hated, has the most interesting gimmick: a “cure” for mutants, so that each of them have to face whether they would be happier just fitting in and being “normal.” The prebootquels FIRST CLASS and DAYS OF FUTURE PAST delved deeper into the relationship and argument between Professor Xavier and Honorary Doctorate Magneto, and continued with what I really liked about the original trilogy, which was that the “bad guys” were always at least kind of right.

Now finally with part 6 we have that movie I originally thought I was going to see in 2000, where you just get to enjoy the people in crazy costumes punching and shooting beams at each other if you can get past how forehead-slappingly stupid the story is.

It’s hard to believe that Bryan Singer started this series 16 years ago – before anybody even thought there could possibly be such a thing as a Marvel Cinematic Universe, before Christopher Nolan ever did a Batman, before there had ever been a successful white Marvel Comics movie – and is still doing it. Back then he was the young director of a cool Oscar-winning indie crime movie, taking a swing at the big leagues. Times and movies and technology have changed and his series has been rebooted and spun off and yet here he is. And when it comes to the blockbuster business of special effects and big slick action scenes he has definitely grown.

But that shit was never the important part of X-pictures. The key to this one not being as good is the new bad guy who’s just a super-powered monster dude bent on world domination and what not. That rings hollow after the more interesting stories about threats to mutantkind and clashes between extremists and moderates. Oscar Isaac has no chance to use his subtlety or charisma under funny Ivan Ooze looking makeup as Apocalypse, “the first mutant” who was betrayed in Ancient Egypt but now is resurrected by cultists to cause an earthquake and recruit a posse of “Four Horsemen” and then use Professor X’s brain to fire all the world’s nuclear missiles. He doesn’t use them to destroy the world, though – he’s shooting them into space to get them out of the way so that he can then destroy the world by different means. We are clearly not working with a rocket scientist here. Or a guy who understand what rockets do.

mp_xmenapocApocalypse is silly looking and everything but the real problem is he has no depth, he’s just a normal evil guy. He’s no Magneto. And then worse, he turns the actual Magneto (the younger one played by Michael Fassbender) into his unquestioning henchman for much of the movie.

Since he put on an evil purple helmet and demonstrated mutant powers to the world in DAYS OF FUTURE PAST, Magneto has changed his name and become a rugged, old-timey, wood-chopping, cabin-living husband with a beautiful wife and young daughter, working at a steel factory until he has to use his powers to rescue a co-worker from work-related injury and then (like MAN OF STEEL) everybody turns on him. It ends in tragedy, so when Apocalypse shows up and wants Magneto to just walk around with him and two younger mutants and do his bidding to destroy the world I guess he figures he has nothing better to do.

First they go to Auschwitz, which Magneto tears apart using his powers. I do admire the audacity of that scene. But the series’ most complex character spends most of this one just standing behind some other asshole like a character that Sven-Ole Thorsen or Professor Toru Tanaka would play. When he decides on a different agenda at the end it’s kind of a relief but feels unearned. Also I swear there was a part where Fassbender just started talking in his Steve Jobs voice.

There’s a new young version of Storm (Alexandra Shipp, who played Aaliyah in a 2014 TV movie). I like her mohawk, but she’s one of the other henchmen, so not much of a character yet. Same goes for Angel (Ben Hardy), who gets a big silly wing flapping cage fight scene, but none of the pathos that part 3 got across in just a few simple scenes with Ben Foster. They have more success introducing young versions of Jean Grey (Sophie Turner from Game of Thrones) and Cyclops (Tye Sheridan, TREE OF LIFE, MUD). Cyclops is the most notable because the character was treated as kind of a chump in the original X-trilogy, the old boyfriend getting in Wolverine’s way. Here he’s a little more interesting.

Quicksilver (Evan Peters, NEVER BACK DOWN 12) stole the last movie (and killed the AVENGERS-Universe Quicksilver) so he’s back with a bigger part and another bullet time type showstopper. He’s still funny, he doesn’t overdo it, although he’s a little bit betrayed by the script’s attempt at giving him an emotional arc. I guess in the comics this character is Magneto’s son, so they had a throwaway joke about it in the last movie. This time he knows it for sure and his motive is to meet his father… then he doesn’t tell him, for unconvincing reasons.

Jennifer Lawrence is a great actress and seems like a cool person, but if she doesn’t want to wear the Mystique makeup maybe she should tell them to get someone else. A prime factor of why Mystique was the coolest character in the Rebecca Romijn days was that she was proud of being a mutant and would strut around in her spooky blue skin even though she had the ability to fit in. In this movie she finally feels that way in about the last 10 or 15 minutes of the movie. And I do believe she already learned that lesson in the other two prequels. Wear clothes, that’s fine, but you gotta have the blue skin, otherwise what’s the point? None of this whitewashing. (This goes for Nicholas Hoult as Beast also. You don’t see Kodi Smit-McPhee [THE ROAD, DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, PARANORMAN] as young Nightcrawler using pills that make him look like a normal dude. That’s a righteous blue man right there.)

I got a laugh from the scene where Mystique travels to the X-Mansion and reunites with her childhood best friend Xavier (James McAvoy, THE POOL) in order to tell him that “Erik has resurfaced.” Somehow this is the first he’s heard of it, even though in an earlier scene we saw Quicksilver (and presumably the whole world) watch breathless news coverage of it. Nobody at that school thought to tell Professor Xavier that his long time friend/enemy has been on TV all day for destroying Auschwitz? There must be some serious communication problems going on with that staff.

Another funny one is with the CIA agent Moira McTaggert (Rose Byrne, INSIDIOUS). Xavier erased her memory at the end of FIRST CLASS, but now they wanted to use the character again, so everybody acts confused why she doesn’t remember anything. Then at the end he gives her her memories back and apologizes, so we’re back at square one, with nothing gained.

FIRST CLASS took place in the ’60s, DAYS OF FUTURE PAST in the ’70s, and this one in the ’80s. Just imagine what they could do with that. A soundtrack with Tangerine Dream or Harold Faltermeyer or Herbie Hancock’s “Rockit” or some Miami Vice shit. Breakdancers. A Warriors type gang. A Russian villain and the X-Men wearing red white and blue uniforms. Or only by teaming with Magneto can they stop a Cabbage Patch Kid riot. I don’t know. Maybe there’s not that much good stuff they could do with it, come to think of it, but they don’t seem to be trying too hard. You see footage of Reagan. Quicksilver plays Ms. Pac-Man, watches Knight Rider, moonwalks in one part. Nightcrawler wears a Thriller jacket, The best ’80s nods are:

three) Quicksilver’s big scene is set to “Sweet Dreams” by Eurythmics

two) Cyclops’s first goggles are made out of Ray Bans

one) Nightcrawler wears a Thriller jacket for a while

But I wish it felt more like a period piece.

Looking at this as a prequel brings nothing but pain. It’s 10 years after DAYS OF FUTURE PAST but Quicksilver still looks college age. If I’d remembered Havok (Lucas Till) from FIRST CLASS I would’ve wondered why he still looked young and had a brother who had to be 20+ years younger than him because he’s in high school. McTaggert also looks the same as 20 years ago. Fassbender does not look 20 years away from Ian McKellan, or after young McKellan from the flashback in X3. I guess that’s because there was time travel and now the future is in flux. That’s why in X3 Xavier was already bald before he was in a wheelchair, and Moira McTaggert was a thirty-something doctor and not an elderly retired CIA agent. That’s the butterfly effect right there. If they keep making these (which I only question because I don’t know what they’ll do when Jackman leaves) I hope they rededicate themselves to this being its own thing and don’t worry about matching up with anything that happened in the earlier movies that take place later.

Speaking of those, there’s a groaner of an in-joke where the X-Teens are seen coming out of a movie theater playing RETURN OF THE JEDI and grousing that it’s “not as good as EMPIRE.” It’s annoying not only because they’re talking like modern, joyless nerds, but because of Jean Grey saying “At least we can all agree that the third one is always the worst,” an incorrect statement about Star Wars trilogies meant as a meta-jab at Brett Ratner’s X-MEN: THE LAST STAND. (Or I suppose self effacement by Simon Kinberg, who wrote this one and co-wrote 3 with Zak Penn.)

Since they brought it up, it’s worth considering how this stacks up to X3. I guess I’m not the best person to do it, because I’ve always liked X3, and I’m still a little confused by its universal vilification. I know part of it has to do with expectations from the comics: this isn’t as good as the Dark Phoenix comic, you can’t kill Cyclops and Xavier, etc. But I’m sure there must be other objections. Anyway, here are a couple important reasons I like X3 better:

1. Part 3’s conflict is infinitely more interesting. The major threat to the X-Men is not even a villainous plot, it’s a pharmaceutical company making a “cure” for mutants. And their reason isn’t even intentionally nefarious, but based in prejudice, as the head of the company’s own son is a mutant, forced to cut off his wings to hide his shame. There’s a ton of drama here that’s entirely different from other super hero movies, full of grey area and disagreement and parallels to our own world.

2. It builds off the ongoing character drama better. When we see Xavier and Magneto working together in a flashback it’s new, something we’ve heard about in the series but not seen until now. The love triangle between Cyclops, Jean Grey and Wolverine goes off in new directions, with more than one tragic result. Magneto repays Mystique by breaking her out of prison just like she did to him, but when she’s forcibly “cured” he abandons her for no longer being a mutant, and it’s heartbreaking! Similarly, I find it moving when Magneto tries and fails to stop Jean from killing Xavier, when he defends Xavier’s name from dipshit Pyro, when he is “cured” and you see him realize that now he’s just a fragile old man.

APOCALYPSE is more impressive as spectacle though, and I’ll give it this: usually movies like this turn into total bores when they devolve into a bunch of screaming, punching, exploding and lasers. Not the case here. The big fight between Apocalypse and everybody else is really cool. Singer’s movies have always been good at setting up what the different abilities of the characters are and then using them in the battles, and this is no exception. They take turns throwing everything they have at him, or teaming up in different combinations, failing over and over again, but they keep getting back up. And meanwhile Xavier battles Apocalypse on the mental plane, almost like fighting Freddy in the dream world.

The new character Psylocke (Olivia Munn), who I’d guess has less than 10 words in the movie and has only been standing behind Apocalypse doing nothing, suddenly turns cool when she starts jumping around chopping up shit with laser swords. It would’ve been good to have a build up where we could tell there was something up with here and were waiting for her to bust loose like that, but we can’t have everything I guess. Storm has one of her only character moments in this part as well, when she sees Mystique and we can infer that she was inspired by seeing her on TV so seeing her fight Apocalypse makes her think. But she takes laughably long to act on this change of heart.

I guess that’s the ancient evil of Apocalypse: he interrupts the world of the X-Men and makes us wait around for various characters to become interesting again (or for the first time in the case of Psylocke). But at the end Magneto is Magneto, Storm is Storm, Psylocke is somebody, Beast and Mystique are blue, and incidentally Xavier is finally bald. I figured McAvoy must’ve looked bad bald like Timothy Olyphant in HITMAN, otherwise they wouldn’t be dragging it out this long, but no, he looks good.

So I don’t think APOCALYPSE is the end of the world. X-mankind can come back from this.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Monday, June 6th, 2016 at 10:43 am and is filed under Comic strips/Super heroes, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

29 Responses to “X-Men’s Apocalypse”

  1. As is often the case, Vern, you have probably put more thought into this movie than the filmatists. I went in with all the good will in the world — I’ve liked all of Singers X-Movies, the characters are basically old friends for me by now, and like you I didn’t mind X3 — but I was really disappointed by how listless everything was. Across the board, everyone was phoning it in (except Fassbender & McAvoy, who are the best thing about the prequel movies), no one harder than Kinberg and Singer. Flat script full of arbitrary motivations, groan-inducing jokes, bland dialogue. Uninspired direction and bland story telling. I think you’re right that it starts with choice of villain: there’s nothing interesting to say with Apocalypse, so the story that gets built around him winds up being utterly devoid of meaning. It’s just empty-headed spectacle, and not good spectacle at that.

  2. Yeah, I thought it a bit ironic how they were laughing about the 3rd movie sucking so much, when this, the 3rd in the prequelogy is also easily the weakest. Delicious, delicious irony. Other cool 80’s shit I liked was the inclusion of Metallica’s Four Horsemen in Angel’s “lair”. It’s obvious, but how often do you get Metallica in a summer blockchomper movie? Knightrider being on the TV was a blast too.

    My favourite part was the beginning with the original four horsemen. They looked cool and you don’t find out anything about them. How did that bitch get them scars? Who was that mutant-looking mutant dude? What a waste. In fact, if the entire movie had been about them leading up to that point, I would have been on board.

    Overall, it was very silly. Apocalypse, for someone with all the best powers, and a name like fucking Apocalypse barely kills anyone. Plus, if I had the power to teleport anywhere on Earth, I wouldn’t choose a massive open space for when I was about to do the old switcheroo with my soul. No, I think I’d either be in A) space B) the center of the Earth. Let’s see Mystiquie shapeshift into a Morlock.

    Oh, I did enjoy the Hugh Jackman “cameo”. Ironically, more brutal and death-filled than any other part of the movie.

  3. Was bad third entries in trilogies even a thing in 1983?

    I ended up saying most of my feelings on this one in the X-Men: Days of Future Past thread. I went in wanting to dig it (even re-watched the prior films to get hyped) but couldn’t bring myself to love it. Found it hard when it seemed none of the filmmakers (from director to actors) seemed to be even trying. I too wanted more ’80’s-ness or whatever in it and would have preferred they spent more time with the new versions of Jean and Cyclops. They both gave awful performances but since they were supposed to be kids I didn’t mind and thought it made their relationship all the cuter. Speaking of the performances, I’ll defend Olivia Munn, whom I never really cared about, because outside of McCoy even the great actors gave bad/indifferent performances.

    I really liked the Quicksilver scene everyone is talking about but I also really loved him wailing on Apocalypse during the climax. All said it sounds like I didn’t like it more than I’m making it sound, I didn’t think it was the train-wreak disaster it’s being made out to be but I sure as hell didn’t think it was good and definitely the worse X-picture (X-Men Origins: Wolverine included sadly).

  4. Crushinator Jones

    June 6th, 2016 at 12:59 pm

    Ok, Vern. Now I’m getting some of the hate for this. I didn’t mind at all – in the slightest – that this movie had nothing to say about social stuff (the whole “what do we do about Mutants?” thing has always been closer to gun control than race issues, IMO, but that’s for another time). But yeah. If you seriously enjoy the social aspects of the X-Men stories then skip this one. This is about a big bad guy trying to destroy the world.

    Although, btw, it’s totally understandable that Apocalypse throws the nukes into space. His whole speech is that regular people are ants and they can’t touch God. He doesn’t want to use their tools to destroy them. He wants to reduce them to nothing – take away their advantages – and have them cower while he personally tunes them the fuck up. That’s what he is all about.

  5. I mostly liked this one. Sure, it’s not as interesting as some of the others, but there’s some strong action and it looks nice. And the scene with Quicksilver is once again the best thing I’ve seen in a superhero film since the last X-Men film. I also think that the film looks a lot better than most from this genre. Singer, for instance, makes really interesting use of foreground and background.

    The script does fall short in some ways. Apocalypse just isn’t that interesting of a villain, and he’s undermined by the fact that the heroes are captured by an unrelated secondary villain a little over halfway into the film. But with that said, I can’t imagine thinking X3 even approaches this film in quality. The opening sequence of Apocalypse alone sets the film heads and shoulders above X3. And I don’t really blame Ratner for how bad that film is. He was clearly pressed for time. The entire film looks cheap and feels as if it’s missing about fifteen or twenty minutes of its running time. You don’t have to get into stupid esoteric discussions of the Phoenix Saga or whatever. It’s just a sloppily put together movie, made quickly to pull in some bucks. In the case of X3, I really do think the nerderati have it right. It’s just a bad film.

  6. Oh, and I agree with Crushinator Jones about the nuclear weapons. It’s never fully spelled out for us, but there are plenty of reasons why Apocalypse would get rid of the nuclear weapons rather than use them on humanity. I’m sure he doesn’t want to live in a nuclear wasteland after he’s killed all humans. That would be a bummer. Also, we’re so primed to see villains use nuclear weapons to kill everyone, it was a nice surprise to see him just shoot them into outer space.

  7. CrustaceanLove

    June 6th, 2016 at 7:09 pm

    If we assume that X3 is the ROTJ of the X-Men movies, does that make FIRST CLASS, DOFP and APOCALYPSE the PHANTOM MENACE, AotC and RotS? And by extension is that line saying that ROTJ is worse than any of the STAR WARS prequels? That should please all the prequel-apologists here. X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE is, of course, the EWOK ADVENTURE: CARAVAN OF COURAGE and THE WOLVERINE is the more enjoyable sequel BATTLE FOR ENDOR.

    X3 has some good ideas and is a decent surface-level simulacrum of Singer’s movies, but it is also a total mess. Characters appear and disappear seemingly at random, and the pacing is bizarre. It does a bad job juggling screen time between the characters, something the first two films did quite well. Cyclops gets unceremoniously offed about a third of way into the movie and nobody seems to notice or care. It looks significantly cheaper. It’s disliked for reasons way beyond the way it handles the Phoenix saga, which was never going to an comics-fan-approved epic space opera in this universe. I like Kelsey Grammer as Beast though. That is an on-the-nose casting choice straight out of mid-90’s Wizard magazine, but it works.

    I kind of like how fast and loose these movies are with continuity. The universe ages but the characters stay the same age. They seed their movies with Easter Eggs and throwaway lines only to contradict them later on. Until finally they write themselves into such a mess that they have to reboot using time-travel and alternate universes and shit. There’s nothing more true to X-Men comics than all that.

  8. If Tom Hardy really does play Wolverine after Jackman leaves, I would consider that worth looking forward to the future of this series.
    A friend said that was happening, but it doesn’t look like it’s confirmed. It’s just who Jackman would ideally like to take over apparently.

  9. Kevin Holsinger

    June 7th, 2016 at 12:18 am

    Good morning, Vern.

    Let’s see…third movie in a series…where the main antagonist is the ancient, just returned, first of its kind. Blade Trinity reference in 5, 4, 3…

    *reads entire article*

    No Blade Trinity reference?! I…I just…

    …well, it was still a good review. Glad I read it, and looking forward to the next one.

    Be seeing you.

  10. Kevin Holsinger

    June 7th, 2016 at 2:04 am

    …speaking of Blade, did you ever see the anime series…

    http://www.amazon.com/Blade-Marvel-Animated-Cort-Lane/dp/B007ILZAA4

    I preferred the movies for Blade’s acting, but the anime for the plot.

  11. Grimgrinningchris

    June 7th, 2016 at 5:36 am

    Despite not caring much for the movie, I will say that putting Nightcrawler in a Thriller jacket was a pretty fucking inspired way to get him looking close to his classic costumed look without actually putting him in the costume.

  12. I still enjoy those first two Xmen films but boy the historical revisionism from some quarters (cough BMD comments) in recent times have trashed them as now worthless.

    Which is stupid, at the least because X2 was in retrospect the prototypical Marvrl Studios movie. (Think about it.)

  13. RRA

    I agree, due to all the negativity launched at them now I was thinking of not re-watching them but gave in and did so anyway. I can see where they are coming from on the first one with it’s really clunky and awkward exposition dumps and the now (in retrospective) small-scale action but I think it’s heart was in the right place (especially for the time it was made) and is helped by (mostly) good performances. X2 I’ll never love as much as others (once did) but felt it held up nicely and benefited from being a much more self-assured effort. I remember when it seemed EVERY nerd ranked X2 as by-and-far the greatest superhero movie ever and now every nerd says it’s an un-watchable piece of shit.

  14. Crushinator Jones

    June 7th, 2016 at 7:42 am

    I actually think that X2 is the best of the X-Men movies.

    So there’s that.

    Anyway here’s a hot take from another forum that makes the case that there is a little bit of social stuff in this film:

    “It’s interesting that Magneto and Mystique are completely right in this movie. Xavier’s politics of covering don’t work. Respectability means that mutant kids in America can go to the X-Mansion, but in West Germany they get kidnapped and smuggled across the border for bloodsports, in Poland the secret police are on the lookout for mutants, in Cairo mutants are so deep undercover that Storm has never met another one. As soon as any major stress happens, the military comes to raid Xavier’s, and “mutie-lovers” like Moira can be safely ignored. Implicitly, Quicksilver lives in mom’s basement because of anti-mutant prejudice.

    So when Jean, Scott, and Kurt mention that they can’t control their powers, they’re pointing to their inability to cover. Jean speaks telepathically if she’s not focusing, Kurt looks demonic, Scott has his eyebeams. And Mystique tells them not to cover. The world needs the X-men, not as some force for respectability, but as a means for mutant solidarity and support. They need to be “out and proud”. “

  15. Chris – I didn’t catch that that was the reason for the Thriller jacket. Now I like it even more!

    Crushinator – I like that argument.

  16. I also didn’t like the ROTJ “the third one is always the worst” joke, because (as geoffreyjar points out) in 1983 there was not yet an acknowledged tradition of bad part 3’s. The whole idea of movie trilogies, and/or a movie with a brilliant sequel but a what-do-we-do-for-an-encore second sequel, didn’t really exist prior to ROTJ.

    The earliest other possible examples I think of are SUPERMAN III and JAWS 3-D, which came out in the same year but after ROTJ. So either these kids waited to see ROTJ until months after it came out (by which time presumably everyone else their age had seen it already) or they are remembering something much older like maybe SON OF FRANKENSTEIN.

    (I’m also curious whether ROTJ was actually criticized in this manner by younger viewers when it came out, or whether it actually took years for fan consensus to turn against it.)

    But despite this and the lack of Muhammad Ali scenes, I thought X-VERN: AMAZINGLARRYPSE (starring Jennifer Lawrence as Majestyk) was a solidly entertaining movie. And I don’t really agree with the consensus that Apocalypse was a lame villain. To me he’s like an evil version of the Second Coming, and the idea of a primordial “first” mutant wreaking havoc on the secular modern world is kind of cool to me.

    The relative lack of social commentary is a fair point I guess, but I like that the X-Men are basically underdogs, which to me makes them more relatable than most of the “other” Marvel heroes.

    It didn’t occur to me to question the character’s lack of aging – though bear in mind that comic book heroes and other cartoon characters seldom age realistically, and Magneto must have been older than dirt even in the other films if he was a death camp survivor.

    However, I was confused by the lack of continuity with the original film. By the end of this movie (SPOILER?) Mystique is still a wholehearted member of the X-Men, and Magneto seems to have had a change of heart and become one of the good guys. This doesn’t sync up at all with the beginning of the original 2000 film, in which both characters are full-blown villains.

    So either this is a separate continuity (I missed DAYS OF FUTURE PAST so they might have explained this) or there’s at least one more movie to be made to close that gap. If the latter, then old onto your flannel for X-MEN: SMELLS LIKE TEEN CYCLOPS.

  17. Yeah, DAYS OF FUTURE PAST involved traveling back in time to change events so that an apocalyptic (not to be confused with Apocalypse) future wouldn’t happen. Because of this we can assume we’re on a different timeline where nothing has to be the same. But, like with STAR TREK, they do sometimes seem like they’re still trying to make a prequel.

  18. I always watch these a few years after they are released, and not always in the right order, so I’ve given up trying to figure out continuity anyway. X3 was the last time I actually knew what the hell was going on.

  19. Grimgrinningchris

    June 8th, 2016 at 6:00 pm

    Vern- I haven’t found anything confirming that as a reason for the Thriller jacket, but it seems pretty obvious. Honestly surprised I haven’t seen anyone else mention it anywhere.

  20. Yeah, I mean, I looked up a picture after you said it and it clearly is intentional and a brilliant idea.

  21. CrustaceanLove

    June 9th, 2016 at 6:24 pm

    I saw this one last night and I thought it was just okay. I liked the new spins on the characters we’ve seen before (e.g. Cyclops, Jean-Grey, Nightcrawler) and Magneto’s arc was well done. Other parts were fun in how dumb and goofy they were, like most of the Apocalypse stuff and the fact that they had an origin story for Professor Xavier’s baldness. The Quicksilver setpiece was genuinely great and really fun, but bizarrely out-of-step with the movie, deflating what would otherwise be a tense and dramatic scene. I like the MCU films better, but those films would never pivot so wildly from serious to goofy or have something as audacious as the Auschwitz scene, so it was weirdly refreshing in that way.

    The finale suffers from an ongoing problem as superhero movies become bigger and more comic-booky: a bunch of people grunting and screaming and shooting energy beams at each other in front of a green screen is not that fun to watch compared to some good old-fashioned super-punching. It does make me wonder how the hell the Marvel movies are going to tackle Thanos and all the “cosmic” stuff that some comic book fans seem to want.

    And what is it with this series’ obsession with Cerebro? I get that a machine that can track/communicate with every person on the planet is too convenient a plot device to ignore, but by now it’s been co-opted by villains multiple times. Magneto almost killed every person on the planet. I’m sick of it.

    Vern I noticed your review did not mention the big cameo, which was spoiled in one of the trailers, but I really didn’t appreciate how this already overlong movie ground to a halt for 20 minutes to accommodate it. You could carve that whole government kidnapping subplot out of the movie and nobody would notice.

  22. Over in the Days of Future Past thread I likened the 20-minute ‘cameo’ to those parts in JRPGs where they put you on a forced side-quest as to extend the gameplay.

  23. My problem with that SPOILER cameo was that it’s not that fun to see that character when he’s not being himself. His personality is what I like about him, not his claws, so the short “Go fuck yourself” one in FIRST CLASS was infinitely more exciting.

  24. The problem with that cameo was it served dick for the movie. It was pointless. At least the FIRST CLASS cameo was short, painless, and a good laugh. All 3 which doesn’t describe the APOCALYPSE cameo.

  25. grimgrinningchris

    June 13th, 2016 at 3:25 pm

    What RRA said… And why is the first time we’ve ever seen *SPOILER* go into a completely bonkers Ber*SPOILER* Rage (*Spoiler?*) in a random, tacked on scene in a story h(*spoiler*)e had no business being a part of instead of in one of his *spoiler)* own movies? And no, that one scene in X2 doesn’t count… that was a vague, toned down approximation of a *SPOILER*, not an actual *SPOILER*. Should just waited for his upcoming *SPOILER*-rated standa*spoiler* movie to do it right.

  26. The treatment of Magneto was basically a crime after the excellent work in the first two. Nothing about his changes of heart made much sense in the context of the film. It would have ben better just to leave him out of this one. As simply a superhero action picture, it would have been decent.

    I did rather like the nuclear disarmament bit. His speech sets up the only interesting thing about Apocalypse, that he has an ethos that says the individually strong must rule and the weak must serve. The idea that weaklings should work together in cooperation and tame or subjugate mighty individuals is utterly offensive to him. So much so that to destroy the world with such weapons would be a betrayal of everything he stands for. Instead, it must be the power of an individual that wipes the earth clean. That was pretty cool. Everything else about the character is a snooze fest.

  27. I felt kinda bad for Bryan Singer since the internet suddenly declared him worst director ever and basically shat on Apocalypse from its announcement up to opening day. (despite everyone but me liking DOFP?) I’d like to defend him, but after watching Apocalypse, I got nuthin’. This is just a bored, disinterested movie that doesn’t have any effort put into it – an overlong, underwritten slog that seems to exist solely to keep rights and fulfill contracts. Nobody seems to want to be here, from Lawrence, making her bored DOFP performance look like her starmaking performance in First Class, to Fassbender, who has a pretty good acting scene earlier on (brought about by some laughable circumstances) and then spends the rest of the movie standing behind some guy. I’d mention Oscar Isaac too but I think we’re going to find out in a few years he didn’t even play Apocalypse and it was really Andreas Katsulas or Jurgen Prochnow or some other dude in the makeup the whole time. Does Rose Byrne even do anything in this movie? (besides you know, accidentally unleashing Apocalypse somehow, since I guess the evil cult had no idea all they had to do was NOT CLOSE A DOOR to awaken him)

    Strangely I think the flaws of Apocalypse are the same flaws in X2, a movie i could have sworn internet peeps were saying was tied with Spider-Man 2 for the best superhero movie ever made, but now I guess they hate it. It’s about 20 minutes too long, the villain’s plot is too complicated and stupid (well, at least in X2 you could understand what it was) and weirdly, in both movies they get to the climactic location too early and then proceed to noodle around for what seems like an eternity while the audience taps out. Man, this climax is so terrible in so many ways- there’s literally 12 characters running around what seems to be a DTV set of war-torn Bosnia or something, with half of them spending the whole fight hiding behind rocks and watching something. The ticking clock, it must be pointed out, involves Apocalypse wanting to switch bodies with a GUY WHO NEEDS A WHEELCHAIR. Then they have a psychic fistfight literally straight out of the climax of Jonah Hex. Magneto kills what must be like 6 million people across the world but he changed his mind for some reason so it’s all forgiven at the end. Quicksilver flies all this way to reveal he’s his son…and then doesn’t for some reason. (I think I could use the phrase “for some reason” after everything that happens in this movie) A plane crashes, killing(?) the bad guy inside who can fly. The bad guy who can’t fly jumps out of the plane to safety somehow. Apocalypse, who spends the first half of this movie instantly and horrifically murdering people in KEWL ways like fucking Wishmaster or something, just decides to entangle and trap people now because I don’t know. Oh yeah, and the supposedly big FUCK YEAH moment involves Jean Grey UNLEASHING her true potential, a plot point that I don’t think was ever mentioned before except in the movie I thought we were all supposed to pretend never happened.

    I’m gonna go ahead and say it – Bryan Singer is showing all the restraint and class of Vince McMahon when he bought out rival WCW (and proceeded to bury everyone involved). The slavish devotion to X1 and 2 and the weird harping on X3 comes across as petty and smug, especially considering X3 is the highest grossing (non-Deadpool) film in the series and has an A- Cinemascore and everything. I never got why people thought the erasing of X3 at the end of DOFP was so cool since the whole series has never given a damn about continuity. Sorry, you can’t pat yourself on the back for cleverly bringing Jean Grey and Cyclops back, when you’ve already brought back Professor X and Magneto (and Rogue) with no explanation. Speaking of which, why are Jean Grey and Cyclops even in this movie? Wouldn’t the movie just be better and more streamlined if it was just the First Class crew? Or maybe God Forbid, a character we haven’t seen before like Jubilee? Why are we bringing back Nightcrawler other than he was in X2 and Singer’s already brought back Stryker and Toad and the Weapon X subplot and everything. I mean, how small is this universe? Who is he, George Lucas? If they actually make the next one in the 90s Singer should just go all out and bring back Sabretooth, Lady Deathstrike and baby Rogue to make the circle of masturbatory self-congratulation complete.

  28. Oh, I also like how everyone goes OMG THEY KILLED CYCLOPS OFFSCREEN!!! in X3 even though a) it wasn’t exactly offscreen* and b) Singer already made him into kind of a non-character by X2. So here let’s right that unfathomable wrong by KILLING CYCLOPS’ BROTHER OFFSCREEN! Poor, poor 40-something Havok and his high school aged brother. Not only is his death confusing and vague (I guess we can’t really commit to killing anybody after X3 so we’ll just leave Angel still breathing and not really explain what happened to Havok but we’ll make this the most violent and mean-spirited X-men movie, with probably the bloodiest PG-13 rating in history), but Havok’s death is even more shitty since it immediately segues into a comedic musical montage (I love how Apocalypse, Quicksilver, and Stryker all independently show up at the X Mansion within about 2 minutes of each other). It’s like, if he’s not dead nobody seems to be worried about where he is. If he did die, it’s good to know Quicksilver spent his time wisely by dancing with frozen ladies and eating pizza whilst Havok horrendously and slowly burned to death.

    *I mean Cyclops died “offscreen” the same way Paul Reiser died “offscreen” in Aliens and Col. Stuart died “offscreen” in Die Hard 2. People make it sound like someone just goes “oh yeah I hear Cyclops died” later in the movie.

  29. Finally watched this one. It was pretty bad.

    Jennifer Lawrence is a good looking woman (duh) but holy hell does she look bad in the Raven makeup they put on her. Rebbecca Romjin was sexy as hell in that makeup, with a menacing and sultry look. On the rare occasions where you saw the real Rebecca Romjin (Mystique disguised as a beautiful woman) it was actually a bit shocking, you thought “This is a disguise… the real Mystique is the blue woman.” It was very convincing. On the other hand, Lawrence just looks uncomfortable. And downright unattractive. And her part is hopelessly padded in runtime, with nothing important for her to do except be a very uninspiring inspiration to the young mutants.

    Why was Rose Byrne even in this movie? Useless.

    Does Colonel Stryker look just like Stiffler or what? I had to look a few times to make sure it wasn’t him.

    Sophie Turner is a shockingly bad actress. I don’t watch Game of Thrones, maybe she is good in that, but as Jean Grey she’s just dull, lifeless, and lost. I see the next X Men movie is going to be “X Men: Dark Phoenix” so we will be treated to lots of bland acting in that one.

    Ditto for Olivia Munn. It’s actually pretty funny watching her in the background of all of these shots with Apocalypse in the foreground, she is always standing in generic superhero pose with the same blank expression on her face. And what exactly are her powers? She has a lightsaber in addition to her samurai sword? That’s it?

    My absolute least favorite character however is the new Nightcrawler. Something about his goofy haircut and constant ineptitude. Alan Cumming wasn’t the toughest guy on the team but he was very competent even when he wasn’t almost killing the president. And he didn’t look like a purple toothpick. This new Nightcrawler was pathetic and might as well have been a delivery service for the other characters, zapping them around the entire movie and doing little else.

    And finally the (SPOILER) “surprise” Wolverine cameo was depressingly predictable. Big metal box with some animal-like mutant in it growling and acting crazy? I was really hoping for something interesting and new. But no, it’s just Wolverine. Surprise surprise.

    Apocalypse himself though I didn’t mind. I actually kind of liked his downbeat and muted performance. He was just going about his business, taking over the world, recruiting followers, not making too much eye contact.

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