Friday, May 27, 2016

X-Men: Apocalypse Review

It’s X-Men time once again! This is a franchise where I’ve been known to be fairly controversial. I don’t think the first two movies hold up quite as well as some people think and although I definitely understand the third has its fair share of problems, I’m not as harsh on it as some other people are. I think X-Men Origins: Wolverine is a fun movie even though it has consistency issues across the board when it comes to that first trilogy. I admit that Deadpool was horrific in that movie, but Fox has recently fixed that with a really fun Deadpool movie earlier this year. Speaking of Wolverine, we have the most recent Wolverine movie, called The Wolverine, which was also fun, but kind of pointless. I have enjoyed our new set of X-Men movies, though. I thought First Class was a good movie and Days of Future Past was a phenomenal movie. How would I rank all of these? I have no idea. Days of Future Past is my favorite, but beyond that I really don’t know. I’d have to watch them all again and come up with a ranking. Maybe I’ll do that one of these days. Moving onto Apocalypse, I was surprised when all the negative reviews came out. After seeing it, I realize it has its fair share of issues, but it certainly doesn’t deserve a rotten score on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s decent fun.

Days of Future Past made quite the gutsy move two years ago to completely reset the whole timeline, making every movie outside it and First Class completely irrelevant. High risk equaled high reward in that instance as it worked like a charm. Now with Apocalypse we are continuing that new timeline. We’ve jumped 10 years into the future as we’re in the early 80’s in this movie, yet no one has seemed to age a day. But eh, that’s more of a nitpick than anything. The X-Men Academy has grown, though, and we have a whole crap ton of new characters to introduce. And by new I mean old because we’re bringing back a lot of the classic characters that we screwed up on or killed in the first trilogy. And we have Apocalypse, who is quite possibly the first mutant ever as he originated from Ancient Egypt and got trapped down in the ground. But now he’s back and his powers are both unlimited and super confusing. I don’t really know what they are or why he doesn’t use some of them in certain situations. More on that in second. But anways, the story here is that Apocalypse has decided to start… yes, you guess it, the apocalypse! Surprise, surprise! But before he does that he has to travel the world and recruit a partially lame group of horsemen to join him, because, well, I don’t know. Habit, I suppose? But since the end of the world is a bad thing, our X-Men have to stop him and that’s our movie!

As you could tell with that, there is a lot of setting up in this movie. It’s not all bad, though. All of the introductions flowed well in the movie, it was just like watching all of the middle episodes in a season of a TV show. Joining this new cast was Jean Grey, Scott Summers, Nightcrawler, Angel, Storm, and Psylocke. Out of those, Olivia Munn as Psylocke was the only one who wasn’t super young. She’s 35 years old. Sophie Turner (Jean Grey), Tye Sheridan (Scott Summers), and Kodi Smit-McPhee (Nightcrawler) are all either 19 or 20. Ben Hardy (Angel) and Alexandra Shipp (Storm) aren’t too much older at 24 or 25. Putting that into perspective, these actors were as young as four years old with the first X-Men came out in 2000. I bet that makes you feel old. So it’s a young cast, but I really like it. All these kids to a fantastic job in their roles, especially the three that start out on the good side, that being Jean Grey, Scott Summers, and Nightcrawler. A significant portion of screen time is devoted to all three and I thought they carried the movie pretty well. Storm, Angel, and Psylocke are three of our four horsemen that are recruited. Storm I loved. The other two did good, but they were mostly useless. I mean, they looked cool and had fun powers, but they added nothing to the plot

On top of all those new characters, we also have our returning cast. As always, the absolute stars of the show are James McAvoy as Charles Xavier and Michael Fassbender as Magneto. Those two have such an interesting dynamic as both friends and rivals in both the old and the new movies and that continues here. Although I will admit that Fassbender gets a bit lost in the middle. The beginning of his arc is fascinating and emotional and he also finishes on a bang. But in the middle he is the fourth horseman recruited and personally none of the horsemen stuff wasn’t that interesting to me.  Also returning we have Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique, Nicholas Hoult as Beast, and Evan Peters as Quicksilver. Just like in Days of Future Past, Quicksilver completely stole the show in this. He finally makes the decision to join the team, which I loved. It was good seeing him as a full-time character instead of just as a cameo. Sadly, the other two weren’t that interesting to me. Beast was just kinda there and Mystique was Jennifer Lawrence for most of the movie. The latter actually started to upset me. I wanted J-Law to go to her Mystique form more often. She was cast in this role before she came a superstar and I feel that the writers are taking advantage of her superstardom by keeping her in her J-Law form and it’s starting to become distracting. I also prefer Mystique as a villain rather than a troubled hero. She’s more interesting that way. But oh well.

Because the movie feels the need to spend all of this time setting up everything, it’s quite a long time before we get to our actual conflict. Which, I’m sorry, I didn’t like. The introduction to Apocalypse in that first minute or two was amazing. But Apocalypse as a villain was actually kinda dumb. I don't have any problem with his look and he sounds menacing. But his plan? Spend the first half of the movie recruiting three random mutants as horsemen that don’t help him at all and Magneto as the fourth. Magneto is all he needed. But I guess he is obsessed with the number four. And he makes sure to dress them all in the most sexy and sleek-looking outfits. After he’s recruited these horsemen, what’s the next part of his plan? Destroy the world. Why? I don’t know. Because he’s Apocalypse and that’s what he does? That’s all I got really. Honestly, villain deciding to destroy the world is about as cliché as it gets. Sometimes bigger doesn’t always mean better. It’s worse when you have a villain like Apocalypse following the most cliché villain story without even having a good reason to. Magneto has good motivations. Not Apocalypse. And like I said earlier, his powers don’t make sense. If he can turn anything he wants into sand and kill a group of people with the snap of a finger, why does he need four horsemen and why doesn’t he use those powers against the X-Men?

That said, I still don’t hate this movie. Rotten Tomatoes has this in the 40 percent range and that’s way too low. I don’t quite know how I would rank them, but here’s how Rotten Tomatoes does: 1- X-Men: Days of Future Past (91%); 2- X-Men: First Class (87%); 3- X2: X-Men United (86%); 4- X-Men (81%); 5- The Wolverine (70%); 6- X-Men: The Last Stand (58%); 7- X-Men: Apocalypse (47%); 8- X-Men Origins: Wolverine (38%). Most of those scores I can buy. Not Apocalypse. I think it should be in the 70 range. There's a lot to love here. We have great new characters. Returning characters do good. I didn't mention the technical stuff much in this review, but the visuals are great and the score good. The action, when it finally happens, is a ton of fun. There’s plenty of emotion. Yes, I agree that Apocalypse is a bad villain with a cliché plan. And yes, they spent a bit too much time setting things up. But overall I left with a good impression of the movie. If you are a fan of the X-Men movies, then I would definitely recommend checking this out this weekend! It’s not as good as Days of Future Past, but that was a difficult act to follow. In terms of superhero movies from this year, it’s not as good as Civil War or Deadpool, but I'd put it ahead of Batman v. Superman. My grade for X-Men: Apocalypse is a 7/10.

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