For a franchise timeline going on about two decades, X-Men sure knows how to keep stuff stale.
We find ourselves once again in the company of everyone’s favorite metaphor for ostracized individuals, the X-Men, facing down their most difficult threat yet…getting sold back to Disney. Seriously, at this point, I think Fox is spinning its wheels on this franchise so they can have a shared custody arrangement of the X characters, like Sony has with Spider-Man. Because Lord knows that Deadpool has all but secured Fox’s stranglehold on these characters, leaving us with a very big cock up of a film.
So it’s the 1980s and the world’s first mutant has waken up from his little snooze and sets about his plan to TAKE OVER THE WORLD…by destroying it? Whatever, the mutant (Oscar Isaac freaking slumming it after Star Wars and Ex Machina) has gone by several divine names like Krishna, Ra, etc and goes about assembling his Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, mutants he has gifted with more power than before. The only people who can stop him are…the Planeteers and Captain Planet. No, of course it’s the damn X-Men, who’d else would it be?
We have a few problems right from the starting gate, because as I sat here coming up with a plot summary for you guys, I realized the story of this movie was a freaking trainwreck. Your film switches perspective between Cyclops, Jean Grey, Professor X, the CIA agent from First Class, Magneto, and Mystique all around the world and in about 20 minutes. I don’t mind having multiple sub plots going on, but none of them are given any time to develop because they all must be in service to the completely idiotic Apocalypse storyline, and don’t worry I’ve got plenty beatings for THAT coming up, but I want to rag on the characters first.
The X-Men movies work because they’ve served as a great metaphor with different people dealing with prejudice in different ways. While First Class used the time period of the 60s to its advantage to highlight a Martin Luther King and Malcolm X style debate on a minority approaching the majority with their presence. They also manage to sneak in some more recent discussion similar to a teenager “coming out” to their parents about their sexuality. All of this is done because you’re given a wide spectrum of characters with unique personalities and flaws that drive them forward.
Apocalypse takes these established personalities and simply rewrites some of them on the fly to suit their own ends. Professor X is solely interested in building a school but has abandoned his dream of a peacekeeping force. Mystique is viewed by mutants the world over as a hero for her actions in the last movie, but she prefers to live in solitude and morosely claims “she’s not a hero” even as she saves the lives of other mutants for literally no reason. And Magneto’s living a simple life of 9-5 work but his internal clock is just ticking before he goes all “kill all the non-mutants” again in what was supposed to be an emotional scene, that goes on just long enough to fall into pure melodrama. The character motivations make little to no sense for all of the main characters, but the biggest fuck up has to be the main villain.
Apocalypse has to be the most useless super villain I’ve ever seen on screen that was simultaneously hyped up by everyone. By the fans and the characters within the movie itself, to be precise. First problem with Apocalypse is that he’s WAY too over the top, Oscar Isaac lays it on thick with a flamboyant performance that gives Eddie Redmayne and his bizarre outbursts in Jupiter Ascending a run for his money. Not helping is just how bad the outfit really is. The incessant comparisons to Mighty Morphing Power Rangers up to release were not wrong at all, and it’s pretty mind-blowing that cosplayers with free time on their hands can make a better costume than a multi-million dollar studio.
Speaking of costumes, that seems to be the only thing our main villain is good at. Once he’s got his Four Horsemen, he spends a lengthy amount of time making them look “cool” for thirteen-year-old boys while their listening to too much Linkin Park. Oh yeah, and designing elaborate palaces for himself, because he is a drama queen first and a credible threat second.
You see, his plan for world domination (or world destruction because he’s not 100% clear on the idea) mostly involves Magneto and not the rest of his horsemen. I really think Apocalypse just picked the first three mutants he came across and jacked up all their powers to make them threatening. Yeah, good luck when freaking Angel (a mutant who’s entire deal is having gigantic wings) is on your team. Dumbest part is, that if he held out for just a few more minutes he would have met Quicksilver, and his powers that basically turn him into a walking deus ex machina.
Speaking of which, remember that “Time in a Bottle” speed sequence from Days of Futures Past? They repeated the exact same scene but this time to tune of “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” (because 80s). Oh and they sneak one more speed scene at the climax, which, if allowed to go any further, would have negated the entire point of a climactic fight. But that’s not all that’s wrong with this character! No, he reveals that Magneto is his father to another character and is given multiple opportunities to tell him of his relationship…and never does. A friend of mine concluded that this was pure sequel baiting of the lowest caliber, and how the fuck can I disagree with him?
That’s just a sample of the odd fuck ups this movie makes. Everything ranging from the bizarre to the completely boneheaded. In one tasteless scene, we’ve got costumed villains debating about strength and power, while standing in the middle of freaking Auschwitz. Complete with Olivia Munn in onesie-swimsuit. This is for all of the people who didn’t think the Anne Frank scene in The Fault in Our Stars was just tonally off.
Hey! Speaking of tone, this movie even manages to mangle a Stan Lee cameo, by shoving it into an emotionally charged scene involving nuclear weapons. I’ve never once referenced Lee’s presence in any of the countless Marvel films I’ve reviewed, but I have to draw attention to it here because my theater burst out laughing in a scene that was supposed to fill the audience with dread. Like I said, “boneheaded.”
And one last screw up before I start wrapping this stuff up, they manage to shove in a Hugh Jackman as Wolverine scene with all the grace and subtlety of shoving a dirty pineapple up a swan’s ass. There is literally no point whatsoever to Wolverine being in this damn movie, but we go on a 20 minute detour of the main plot where our protagonists get kidnapped with no warning by a military organization that has not been mentioned ONCE in this entire movie. This organization takes our heroes to a secret base where the entire point is to unleash Wolverine upon the soldiers and he runs off to another solo movie. Its awkward, its nonsensical, and you quickly realize that you can take the entire scene out and not miss a fucking beat in this movie. Hell you might have a more coherent film.
All of these issues and I haven’t even commented on acting once. Look, it’s not bad, but the bigger stars are clearly fed up with this franchise. Jennifer Lawrence looked bored throughout this movie, even when she was kicking other dudes’ asses. I wasn’t even that big of a fan of the Hunger Games movies, but she showed more exhilaration there than she did here. And while my man-crush, Michael Fassbender, initially emotes the hell out of the script in a melodramatic scene that he nonetheless comes out unscathed, he gets bored towards the end and glares as he has to wave his arms like he just didn’t care to move metal or whatever. Oh yeah, my girlfriend pointed out that his Apocalype-jacked abilities would have basically ended everything (like all infrastructure, satellites, electrical grids, etc) within a minute, as opposed to the several hours that elapsed in this movie.
And the script is exposition up the bum. Very little in terms of levity or character development, and almost entirely in service of establishing what the high holy hell is going on. Not to mention convoluted, clunky, and overall just not engaging. And finally Bryan Singer has confirmed to me that he will NEVER make something as great or better than The Usual Suspects again. Dude has had two decades to do this, and has only proven himself to be an absolute mediocre director at best. Not horrible in the way M. Night Shyamalan let us all down, just mediocre. Not atrociously bad, but never inspiring either.
I didn’t absolutely hate this film. When levity did occur, it was enough to get a laugh or two out of me, and some fight scenes were genuinely clever if a little bit on the ridiculous side. But this film is a mediocre mess of a superhero flick. At best, I can only recommend seeing this on Redbox because a theater is an absolute waste of time and money for this. It’s not the worst X-Men film (The Last Stand and Origins: Wolverine still take that dual-sided crown), but it’s a huge let down from First Class and Days of Futures Past.
This is getting a very low…
PS: and why the fuck are you going to put Jubilee in this movie and not have her annoy us ONCE?!