Fussy Tongue’s Movie Review: X-Men Apocalypse with a more than obvious spoiler warning
Oh Hollywood! Another case of too many characters that are too little developed. The title itself is a spoiler alert. Then, for the non-the-wiser, the trailer spills the beans: there’s going to be a lot of senseless destruction à la Michael Bay so the film, thus occupied, would have no time to dwell on the whom, the why or the how.
The subliminal message was unsubtle enough to consider yourself warned. Yet, the addiction and craving for the demonstration of superpowers, the reunion with familiar characters albeit with unfamiliar faces, the discovery of new mutations and mostly Prof Xavier-like hope that there’s still goodness in something or someone whose main actions bluntly and repeatedly tell otherwise are the arguments for our going to watch the film all the same. The latter reason holds a nostalgic clue to a time when comic books helped some of us believe in a world and people who seem to reject us because of how little we fitted in their plans, their system and their fear-infused institutions.
There is some, like the casting of a charming and authentic Nightcrawler, the idea of using Oscar Isaacs to give weight to a mis-sized Apocalypse, the origins of Prof Xavier’s boldness, the casting of Psylocke. It can easily be argued that QuickSilver makes yet again an epic appearance, much too short and much too quick ( 🙂 ). The performances are in general quite good including that of young Jean, young Storm and even young Cyclops.
More than any other positive in the film is the undeniable paired and acting force that are Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy, giving weight beyond their sublime performances to the on-and-not quite-off friendship of their two characters and playing on their very oppositions.
There are details that were given such attention, the prioritisation becomes frustrating when you think of the aspects that have been overlooked. The sound and special effects were spectacular therefore quite on point, especially Erik Lehnsherr’s magnetic field. The film touches on the holocaust with good intentions… I think this is exactly where it stops, right in the middle of its good intentions.
Character underdevelopment is at its worst ever in the franchise and character underuse also plummets here as if they were in competition with X-Men: the Last Stand or had definitely not understood what had not work there.
The main villain learns the English language the Fifth Element’s style and no matter how casual this was introduced, I couldn’t help but pause with doubt. I guess that in his many power acquisitions, shadowed by threats of rebellion and surprise attack, he thought, “Hmm, why don’t I use this important moment when I am also at my weakest to transfer into a mutant that can learn new languages quickly, and eventually through a screen… Even though I have no reason to suspect that a different language will be required or that I would have to travel abroad.” Now, for those who know what his powers are, well done for reading the comics, however it should be enough of a commitment to have watched all of the franchise’s movies! Plus the so-called artistic freedom has allowed filmmakers time and again to part from a character’s origins (see some example in this other article about the characters that Hollywood misunderstood), so spectators coming with an open mind should not have to feel short changed.
Last but not least, you might realise like I did that Mystique is now being played by Katniss from the Hunger Games. That is because, well until this episode, it was being played by Jennifer Lawrence but I guess one can always borrow more than just an actress in their film, but also the popular character this actress has played elsewhere, whicch has given her that star power, possibly making up thereby for the confusion they are having with their current character. (sigh)
Oh Storm, will this franchise ever understand you? I guess they got the thieving bit albeit in the most unimpressive sub-plot ever. Her role might as well be resumed by Halle Berry, to stand on the sidelines, be pretty I guess, oh and rise in the air doing something vaguely foggy with the weather, her seemingly only power, highly and boringly regurgitated from every version of the film. At this point, it is just stupid.
Well that was quite the underuse of Oscar Isaac. Building a character to be a villain, and then placing him into weak plots that show his strength only against non-mutants weaken the extent of his perceived power. I guess he is not dead either right? (double sigh)
So, Jean Grey, who cannot yet control her powers, as we are endlessly reminded, gets to unleash the Phoenix, the least controllable and controlled of her abilities, controls it for the movie’s purposes and switches it off when she’s done… Hmm we see a sin1 of convenience to the plot that breaks its continuity and its own foundations. Or did they actually mean that rebooting also allows them to change that well-known aspect of the phoenix’s powers? On the other hand, it could be seen as an attempt to top the female heroism which had been showing a degree of weakness in Marvel movies compared to the excitement of the upcoming Wonder Woman. They did try hard with Mystique but it is hard to believe that she would be a heroine for long, with the history attached to her character.
The holocaust is touched on in what looked like the acknowledgement of a traumatic past, just to then be virtually re-enacted at a larger scale as people everywhere become faceless and bloodless casualties of a power-craving and disillusioned monster. Something tells me that would not have happened so awkwardly if the final decisions were with people who cared more about making sense and carrying their audience on a meaningful journey rather than those who cared more about making money no matter the indubitably subsequent collateral damages.
There is no denying there is entertainment. The child in me had spoonfuls of the right thing but they were so far and few in between disastrous and puzzling moments that they were as enjoyable as they could have been. The menu promised so much with a villain whose powers ended failing to impress because wither put against the weaker or just not used when they could have been. Every person that was put around to be the hero from Mystique to Jean Grey was just disappointing, not because they were not impressive but because the use of the so-called powers made no sense. Yes, these films are meant to awake the child in us with excitement, that is at least why I continually watch them. However, I have never believed that even as a child, either of us has been an idiot looking for shiny explosions and silly jokes to react to. There is a lot of cleverness in the child in us or a child in general and failing to see keeps on failing us.
Anyway, as usual there is a rating to give for each film see and in spite of its many failings, this film still gets a 6 out of 10 for its entertainment value. The lack of plot and character development is there but the points are recovered on the strength of the actors’ performances in particular the villain and our two favourite frenemies. The superficial part of the film also helped out in particular the score and visual effects. It is so frustrating to think that this film had so much more to offer and only failed to do so because of the very reasons that should have motivated its makers to better harness the material and better understand their audience.
1. Sin à la Cinemasins of course. Cinemasins is a delightful piece of satiric movie review with a voiceover provided by a voice you could listen to all night, perfect comic timing and sprinkled with some silliness to lighten it all up. Highly recommended if you have a sense of humour, a sense of movie madness and any sense at all 😉 https://www.youtube.com/user/CinemaSins