X-Men: Apocalypse 2016
We are starting to get deep into the summer movie season as we kick into the latest comic book movie with superheroes fighting superheroes, but at least in this case every movie has been about mutants fighting mutants. And very similar to the last two theatrical releases this year, I enjoyed this movie as well, but thought that overall it had some notable issues with it. There were definitely moments where I had a nice fanboy grin plastered on my face, and there weren’t really any parts during the film where I thought it was dragging, but after it was all over and I started thinking about it a bit more thoroughly, there were just too many questions that kept dragging through my head. And as is often the case with theatrically released movies, there may be spoilers ahead so read on only if you’ve seen the film or don’t care about knowing what’s to come.
One question when it comes to many superhero movies is the question on how much to include for the die hard fan of the comic book continuity and how much to change so that it makes sense for the newcomer who has never read a single issue. Often times Apocalypse seemed to have gotten it wrong on both counts. There’s no doubt about it that anyone who is a fan of Wolverine in the comics or the 90’s cartoon is aware of the Weapon X project beyond just the fact that Stryker gave him his metal skeleton. Here we get to see a glimpse of him in his fully controlled, weaponized gear. But at the same time, that entire sub plot was completely unnecessary to the overall plot and just slowed things down before getting to the climax. That entire section could have been excised and it would have made for a better film. The only thing it accomplished story-wise was that it gave the younger members of the team an excuse to come along.
There’s also some of the other characters that just seemed to get the wrong amount of fanservice. Yes, it was nice to see Jubilee in a much more comics and cartoon appropriate form, but she had maybe a single line of dialogue. The same thing could have been said about half of the characters. Psylock is another one who has had little presence outside of comics and the Marvel vs Capcom series, but here she is given a very comics accurate costume regardless of how little sense it makes either as a practical outfit or even as one of Apocalypse’s Four Horsemen when he is seen creating armor for the other male Horsemen. Not only that, but for an already oversexualized costume, they managed to make it even more sexualized by adding more cleavage. Storm also becomes problematic though she does at least have a few things to do as the story progresses, but her turn of character comes as she spends several minutes just watching everything happen around her in a very passive and wordless moment before randomly switching sides at the end.
One thing that the first two X-Men movies got incredibly right was that it was a movie full of characters who had meaningful interactions and development as they met and interacted with the rest of the team. It’s something the series has veered away from in favor of flash and spectacle. There are still some good moments here and there, Raven’s non-canon turn made sense within the story that has been told across the past three films and she made for an interesting bridge between Eric and Charles that brings a slightly different angle to their conflicting friendship that has been the focus of nearly every movie in the main series. The new students also had a nice chemistry with the young versions of Cyclops, Jean, and Nightcrawler performing their roles quite well. The return of Quicksilver was also a treat as Evan Peters once again had the best scene in the film regardless of whether or not it was very similar in scope to the Time in a Bottle scene from the last film.
The other issue comes with the climax of the film. When it comes to raising the stakes in the way that this film does, essentially dealing with a mutant that has god-like powers, it’s very difficult to dispatch him in a way that makes sense, and is satisfying to the audience. And that’s a big part of where this film fails. Even though there is an attempt to have the solution that makes the most sense: each member of the team pulls his attention and powers in a different direction so that they can ultimately overpower him as a whole. But what ends up defeating this god-like being is for them to unleash another god-like power with Jean’s Phoenix level power. But even before that, it’s just a bunch of people standing around while CGI beams of light or metal debris go shooting into the guy wearing the blue makeup.
With all that said, this doesn’t end up failing overall as a film. It still gets enough things right that makes it enjoyable to watch as a fan of the X-Men. Even though it is generally pointless to have the sidetrack to Stryker’s complex, it was still great to see Weapon X come out. Which brings up another brief point that was a little surprising as to how violent this film was in many places. There were several visible deaths of characters including one who gets crumpled into a very painful looking ball via telekinesis, and while you never see any blood actually spurting out from any human target, there was plenty of blood on display during Weapon X’s rampage. It was also great to see Nightcrawler used properly once again even if he never quite reached the heights of the opening scene of X-2 in the White House. There was also the right amount of humor spread throughout the film that helped give it the Marvel feel even as it occasionally cut itself down, like when the kids see Return of the Jedi and mention how the third movie in the series is always the worst, since this is technically the third in the prequel series timeline. There’s often discussions about ranking the films in a series every time the latest one comes out, and though it’s been a while since I’ve seen First Class, I would put this one above that but below Future Past. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.