THE AFJ REVIEW: X-MEN APOCALYPSE!
By Jarrett Kruse
I have no idea what I just watched but it left me in a state of panic that if MARVEL does not get the full film rights to the mighty mutants, these Bryan Singer atrocities are going to continue. While I actually enjoyed X:MEN: Days of Future Past, X-MEN: Apocalypse builds absolutely nothing on that mid to late 70's vibe that was established. Instead it throws us into I think they flashed on the screen, "1983" but it is more of a generic period of time that does not commit fully to when the movie is actually taking place. Worse still, I did not really care.
The reason for my general malaise is that the X-franchise has gotten to be like that old Seinfeld bit about two magicians trying to outdo each other. One says, "the number you are thinking of is "5," While the other magician says, "I believe this King of Clubs is your card." Their are no new tricks. The saving grace of DOFP was Quicksilver so instead of banking on that, we get pretty much the same sequence with that character and a different background.
The film begins long before Christ has come into the picture where something like the very first mutant (Apocalypse) lives and then dies by transferring his omnipotent powers to his next incarnation. It is confusing the way they set it up and try to market it into an audience that checks their phone every few minutes for texts, sports scores or to Tweet.
While the always likable James McAvoy as Professor X does his usual best of charming his way through his scenes and making his young mutants at the Westchester based School for the Gifted not feeling so different. Michael Fassbender does his best as a reformed Magneto with a wife and child but of course his secret gets out after saving a co-worker at a steel mill. His family is killed and now he wants nothing more than to go back to chaos and his old life as the master of magnetism. The coolest thing about the whole arc is that I really dug the red suit he wears and think that it would make a pretty dope action figure for Junkies.
Jennifer Lawrence is clearly in the film to obligate her pre-superstar obligations as Mystique/Raven. The shape-shifter looks very bored on-screen and completely disinterested in what is going on in a film that has her as a rather boring second string character. She is there for the paycheck and I get it but at least go out in a blaze of glory I say! My main problems with the film is that I really did not care about Oscar Isaac as Apocalypse that has been the main discussion on Internet X-message boards ad nausea. I was rooting for Isaac too, coming of his breakout role as Poe Cameron and his Han Solo-esque performance in Star Wars: Episode 7. Here though, it just feels like everyone is just going through the green screen motions that do not add up to a compelling narrative. The back and forth from ancient times to the early 80's, then back to other flashback's, flash-forwards, etc. Its just a mish-mosh of everything I did not want in a new X-film with no real overall cohesive narrative.
I did like the organic, developing relationship between gifted students Tye Sheridan (Scott "Cyclops" Summers) & Sophie Turner (Jean Grey). I really believe that a school based X-film is the way to go next because even Kodi-Smith McPhee's turn as Nightcrawler was impressive. Bryan Singer is a good director, but its just time to pass the torch, telepathically if need be.
Sure, another Quicksilver scene was cool but while that was a major ace up their sleeve in DOFP, here it just feels like a continuation of that original bit. No matter how fast he goes, he cannot save what is a ho-hum screenplay by guys that have been making X-movies for almost 20 years. Even George Lucas gave over the helm while Bryan Singer seems firmly ensconced in mutant films only. Seeing his BAD HAT HARRY shingle producing the film with the famous lineup scene from The Usual Suspects, always gets me because that was such an inventive and new film that over twenty years later, still blows people away that see it for the first time. Their is no new visual style and we are given old characters, new characters, dormant characters, and characters we do really want to see but how much can you do in 2 hours & 16 minutes? Oh and all that hullabaloo about Oliva Munn as Psylocke and all the hours of training she did to become one of Apocalypse's 4 Horsemen? You pretty much see all of her in the trailer, the final nail in the coffin for me as someone that would gladly pay $15 to watch Olivia Munn read just a phone book for two hours. Pass on this one Junkies and wait for the DVD of the stream...