Rating 2/5 – Wow, X-Men Apocalypse was bad. Not “so bad it’s good” bad, just bad. Every review I’ve read keeps complaining that Jennifer Lawrence was phoning it in, as if the entire cast wasn’t literally skyping in their performances. It’s another movie that makes me ask “why do they keep hiring Bryan Singer?” I’ll give him X-Men: Days of Future Past, it was entertaining and had a really “go for it” ending. X-Men Apocalypse? OMG where do I start? Oh wait, the villain.
Comics in the 1990’s
I make no bones about coming from comic book movies from the POV of a comic reader. There is no doubt that 90% of what exists in comics are mostly throwing stuff against the wall and seeing what sticks. Actually this is two parts – really cool drawings that have no real writing or character behind then the other thing. I consider myself a more realistic sort of comic fan because I can separate nostalgia from the down right stupid. Of the kind where there was a cool drawing but badly executed comic you get things like Spawn, Deadpool, Cable, Extant, etc. Apocalypse was always dumb. He had a dumb origin, a dumb motivation, and his powers were dumb in that they kept changing from appearance to appearance. According to the origin he was the first mutant born in ancient Eygpt where he ruled for a few hundred years, got power from these really dumb space alien/maybe gods The Eternals, and got more undefined power because. . .reasons. For some reason this over powered creature was overthrown and put to sleep or went to sleep until he awoke in the pages of the first volume of X-Factor and the only good thing about him was his four horsemen concept. He’s all for mutant replacing human but in a more of a gladiator philosophy where everyone beats each other up and who ever is left standing is the fittest therefore worthy of being the last ones standing. Yeah, that’s how stupid he and every appearance he makes is.
Here’s a quick rant on “must destroy the world” villains. They make no sense, ever. You blow up the world to rule the ashes? Why? Because you read too much Conan or watch Mad Max movies and go “that looks like fun.” With all the technology and innovation that exists you don’t want to just take over and go “Hey, I can run this bitch better than anyone else.” That’s Doctor Doom’s entire motivation and why he makes such a good villain. The difference being Doctor Doom attacks the Fantastic Four because of a huge human flaw and that same ego is usually what gets in the way of his plan. Apocalypse just wants to wreck shit to find the strongest whoever. And then what? And exactly why? Its like aliens who come to rob the world of it’s resources that exist all over the solar system or universe without having to get into a huge battle with humans or super heroes. However Apocalypse is also one of those villains Marvel is always trying to make a thing and he’s never really a thing. Now he’s a memory because he existed in the comics and the makers of the X-Men movies think he’s a thing because he was there. He was no better in X-Men Apocalypse because he’s never been a good villain in anything. He’s dumb, his motivation is stupid, the whole Egyptian origin is racist white washing and he’s never really been interesting until he recently died and came back as a kid.
Aren’t We Past This Yet?
I’ve watch two Avengers movies, I see Arrow and Flash and even Agents of Shield all learning to take a large cast and juggle it with competence. Once upon a time having too many heroes or villains would be a complaint. Then Dark Knight and the First Avengers showed us all it could be done. So why can’t the X-Men get it right? Especially X-Men Apocalypse – which had about the same amount of mutants as the other X movies. Even trimmed down the X-Men is a big cast of characters and they only learned to balance them in First Class. (Okay, to a certain degree in Days of Future Past.) Only the people actually writing and directing the X-Men movies don’t care about what makes X-Men work in teh first place. I’ll agree that the mutants as a stand-in for racism or homophobia is a big part, the other part is the characters. They never get the core X-Men character right because they’re too focused on the “cool” X-Men characters. Marvel has proven time and time again if you stick to the core of what makes these characters work in the comics people will enjoy it. Once again they push Cyclops into the back burner, Jean Grey is completely misunderstood and there was a huge focus on Mystique who wasn’t Mystique for more than a few seconds in the whole move. Don’t get me wrong, Jennifer Lawrence can sit in a chair and read War and Peace for two hours and I’d watch that, but I did not put money down to see Jennifer Lawrence, I came to see Mystique. If you’re going to have a lot of character and give them cool moments those moments must be earned. There wasn’t one shining moment that was earned so every action set piece is forgettable, which sucks in an action movie.
Jean Grey & Sansa Stark – Perpetual Victims
X-Men Apocalypse wasn’t exactly a winner, but it’s unfair to pigeon hole any actor or actress into a famous role. For instance when “I Know What You Did Last Summer” came out I found it hard to watch Sarah Michelle Geller be a slasher movie victim because I kept expecting her to lead the killer into an alley then turn around and kick his ass. It was a little hard for me to separate her from Buffy, so when she got offed I just couldn’t buy into it. Sophie Turner felt like perpetual victim Sansa Stark to me. However, if you’ve been reading comics as long as I have so is Jean Grey. She should be the most powerful of all the X-Men. She can move shit and create shields with her mind when taken to it’s logical level should make her damn near unbeatable. Add on the hyper-cosmic power of Phoenix, who could seriously screw with this woman. Yet in her early years she tended to get tied to a chair while the boys saved her, or was the sexy lamp of the X-Men. They even called her “Marvel Girl” for reasons rooted firmly in blatant sexism. When she became the Phoenix she was the victim to a d-list X-Men villain who she should have seen right through since she can also read minds and all and had the power of a cosmic god floating inside of her, then she was a victim to the Hellfire Club then a victim to the Phoenix force. Don’t get me wrong, the Phoenix/Dark Phoenix saga is a classic for a reason, but let’s not pretend most comic writers have done Jean Grey justice as a fully formed character. In X-Men Apocalypse Sansa Stark playing Jean Grey was a perfect fit. The Phoenix stuff in X-Men Apocalypse was shit. It’s like no one making the movie has ever bothered to pick up the source material and actually find out why the storyline worked and how it could be done right. X-Men Apocalypse showed they most certainly aren’t going to do any better than they did in X-Men 3.
Magneto and the Red Shirts
The two stand outs of every X-Men movies is Wolverine and Magneto. Who knew? However the constant falling back to these two characters is just as much a flaw as constantly falling back to Zod and Luthor in the Superman movies. X-Men Apocalypse once again concentrated on Magneto, gave us a stupid Wolverine appearance and focused too much on Jennifer Lawrence. With Magneto, I get it. Magneto is a compelling character. But X-Men Apocalypse’s whole family thing stank of “those people are going to die” as soon as you saw them on the screen. I mean seriously, you had a great opportunity to create Polaris and they wasted it on making the wife and daughter obvious red shirts? And why would Magneto, whose all for mutant survival, join a guys whose whole motivation is “let’s make everyone fight to the death and see who left standing?” They could have made the family sub-plot in X-Men Apocalypse interesting, compelling and gave us an introduction to future characters? Instead DC/Warner took the easy way out in X-Men Apocalypse and went for the “let’s murder his family in a contrived way as a motivation.” Magneto already has a compelling motivation, there was no need to add any more to it.
X-Men Apocalypse, The Verdict?
Well I gave X-Men Apocalypse a 2 out of 5 and I feel I’m being extremely generous. There was nothing memorable about X-Men Apocalypse. The characters did not get enough time to really shine, I didn’t care about the shoehorned Quicksilver scenes, especially the really bad slow motion CGI punch Apocalypse scene. No one had what even could pretend to be a logical motivation for anything they did in these movies, the Wolverine appearance made me roll my eyes and I pray Bryan Singer is not the one whose going to fuck up the Dark Phoenix Saga if that’s what they’re planning. This wasn’t a good movie nor a movie you’d bother to watch while trying to get to sleep and it comes on basic cable. Let’s hope the the movie after X-Men Apocalypse is at least one Days of Future Past level.