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Movie Review: X-Men Apocalypse (2016)

X-Men Apocalypse is hollow and disappointing. Its pace, editing, and dialogue sacrifice character development and emotional connection for bombast and CGI. In the battle for humanity against an ancient adversary, beloved characters are stripped of personality. As a devoted fan of the comics during the 90’s – I also consumed the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s classics – I will be shouting a lot in this review.

Plot summary: The X-Men face the first mutant, En Sabah Nur, whose philosophy is “Let the strong survive and the weak perish” – and he considers all humans (and most mutants) weak. Destruction ensues.

First, I AM SO SORRY, OSCAR ISAAC. The man is a treasure who deserves better than playing Apocalypse. You can see him straining against the awful makeup and prosthetics, and bellowing the mutant supervillain’s laughably grandiose lines with conviction. Unfortunately, Apocalypse is a barely-sketched antagonist in the movie. In the comics, he’s defined by his survival-of-the-fittest action plan, which he implements all day, every day until something stops him. In the movie, he switches between paternal cooing at his Four Horsemen – and even hand-crafts individual costumes for them, how sweet – and howling about how powerful he is. No. NO! WE NEED MORE TIME WITH APOCALYPSE, WE NEED TO SEE THAT HE IS PANTS-WETTINGLY THE FITTEST, INSTEAD OF A GRANDPA WHO ALTERNATES BETWEEN AWKWARD AFFECTION AND MASS DESTRUCTION.

Next: OLIVIA MUNN, THANK YOU FOR REPRESENTING, BUT YOUR CHARACTER WAS SUPERFLUOUS. Psylocke is a fracking NINJA, how did they mess that up?! A single line about why she joins Apocalypse, like maybe, “Mutants shouldn’t have to hide in the darkness,” or “I’m too pretty to work in this basement, thanks for the power-boost and promotion, dad!” or even “I’m messed up because I’m Captain Britain’s sister in a Japanese assassin’s body so why not, let’s kill people!” would have contributed to her character. Give us something. Anything. At least Storm (Alexandra Shipp) owes Apocalypse for saving her from mutilation, and Angel (Ben Hardy) gets his wings upgraded from nancy-ass feathers to steel with neurotoxin tips. Hells yes I would sign up if that happened to me!

As the final Horseman, Magneto makes a decision that serves as the emotional center of the story: having lost his new family to humans, he lends his strength to destroying “everything they have built” for “a new world.” Except Apocalypse never shares his vision of this world. Viewers have to extrapolate that 1) it has no nukes (a point in big A’s favor, admittedly -- then again, the strongest mutants are essentially nukes), 2) it will have no internet, since Magneto’s ripping up everything metal, including undersea CABLES, and 3) pyramids will be the new housing rage. The horsemen’s blind obedience to a demigod bent on a bleak, internet-free planet is obviously in service to the action scenes, which are meh. Deadpool did action better, and all he had were guns and swords.

What about the X-Men, you ask. GREAT QUESTION. WHAT ABOUT THOSE LOSERS. Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) is reduced to a giggling idiot by Moira Mactaggert (Rose Byrne), Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult) isn’t much better when confronted by a perpetually grumpy Raven (Jennifer Lawrence), Cyclops (Tye Sheridan) is a pair of flaring nostrils, and Jean Grey (Sansa Stark) struggles with her American accent. Only Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is a double threat as the team’s escape route and comic relief. Oh, and Quicksilver (Evan Peters) is back for another special effects scene that tries so very hard to top the last one.

And then they cap off the movie with an exchange between Xavier and Magneto that repeats the final lines of the very first X-Men movie from back in 2000. ...Y’know how the anti-Ghostbusters reboot crowd is all “But muh childhood” and “It didn’t need to be remade”? Well, now I know how they feel because those lines didn’t need to be spoken again, and certainly not by two men who are not Sir Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellen. I am extremely bitter about this empathy. YOU DID THIS, X-MEN APOCALYPSE, YOU MADE ME UNDERSTAND THE VIEWPOINT OF MAN-BABIES. Although in my defense, I saw the first movie and this version and then made my judgment, whereas them folks are trying to tear down a film they haven’t seen yet. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

ALL RIGHT, ALL RIGHT, IT WASN’T ALL BAD. As a rabid fan of Jean Grey, I’m very pleased at her clutch performance. And the soundtrack by John Ottman hits all the right notes: by turns ominous and hopeful, with full orchestral arrangements and even a compilation of Beethoven’s Allegretto.

And…that’s it for the good points. My eternal love for Jean Grey remains and the soundtrack rocks.

But, but: the trailer is AWESOME, and brought us the gift of Trump: Apocalypse.

TL;DR: Worst X-Men movie of the bunch. 

This post brought to you by a 10-minute internet failure that caused everyone to lose their minds!

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