Oh X-Men...How do I love thee? Let me count the ways!
I just saw X-Men: Apocalypse and am still BLOWN AWAY.
I think it might be my favorite of the franchise, and yes, I’ve see them all. The X-Men are my favorite comic book superheroes...and I’m constantly surprised that more people don’t feel the same way. Wired Magazine recently published an article online stating that the X-Men were significantly underrated, and I wholeheartedly agree. Give me Charles Xavier and Magneto over Captain America and Iron Man ANY DAY OF THE WEEK. Their powers are so much cooler...and quite frankly, more dangerous, which makes them overall, more entertaining to watch. The X-Men would kick the Avengers’ butts every time.
X-Men: Apocalypse opens up with a visually STUNNING scene from Ancient Egypt, revealing the film’s villain, En Sabah Nur. The world’s very first mutant, he has the power to transfer his consciousness from body to body, allowing him to absorb powers and live forever. In the middle of the transfer process, he is betrayed by the people he rules, and falls beneath the rubble of a now demolished pyramid, entombed, but preserved, so that he may rise again.
Fast forward to the 1980’s. En Sabah Nur is unintentionally resurrected and the force of his awakening sends tremors rippling across the entire world.
Magneto’s location is revealed...as well as the powers he has attempted to keep dormant. The police are sent to apprehend him, but when his wife and daughter are accidentally killed, he loses it, kills the policemen, and joins En Sabah Nur on his mission for world domination.
The scene where Magneto loses his family is one of my favorite in the entire film. For the first time in franchise history, we see the softer side of Magneto. He feels human and real, and not at all like the villain we have come to know, and love. It was very difficult to root against him, or any of the villains, for that matter. Michael Fassbender’s portrayal is raw, emotive, and very powerful.
En Sabah Nur is an atypical villain. He is nurturing and protective of the mutants, calling them his children. He even uses his power to help them realize the extent of their own abilities, so yeah, I personally didn’t blame Magneto, Storm, Angel, and Psylocke (how insignificant were those last two characters, btw?), for joining him.
For almost half of the film, I found myself favoring the villains...until Charles Xavier was kidnapped, of course. No one messes with my favorite Scottish telepath! James McAvoy is so dreamy...and I think that has everything to do with his acting chops. That guy is the real deal and is always a pleasure to watch on screen.
All of that aside, maybe I should be saying my SECOND favorite telepath! Sophie Turner SLAYS as a young Jean Gray. Her depiction of the character's journey is believable and impactful. We identify with her weaknesses and insecurities and then celebrate her strength and confidence. Next to Fassbender’s Magneto and McAvoy’s Xavier, it was the most significant performance.
The next character I MUST mention is Quicksilver. Oh how I love him. My affection goes all the way back to Days of Future Past. His big scene in that movie was stylistically perfect. I’m sure that’s in large part to the film’s director, Bryan Singer, but man. That scene, and Evan Peters’ depiction, was EPIC.
Peters certainly lives up to everyone’s expectations in Apocalypse. Next to the Magneto’s scene I mentioned earlier, and a Jean Gray scene at the end I won’t mention in more detail because I don’t want to spoil everything, Quicksilver’s arrival at the mansion, moments after a massive explosion, is everything. Peters is a spectacular comic relief because his timing is impeccable. I’ve been a fan of his for years now (I’m a huge American Horror Story follower), and continue to be impressed by his acting range.
Despite what you may now think after reading this, the film wasn’t perfect. I enjoyed it, obviously, but there were a couple of elements I was less than pleased with…
First of all, HOW THE HELL DID JEAN, CYCLOPS, AND NIGHTCRAWLER GET OUT OF THAT HELICOPTER UNDETECTED? One minute they’re in the back of the chopper where their abilities are blocked, and the next minute they’re sneaking around a military facility, trying to find and rescue their friends. We have no idea how they got inside the facility. The filmmakers simply skipped over that detail, which was weird.
Good old J-Law. That girl has seen more commercial success than all of the other actors in the film, combined. The Hunger Games aside, her Oscar for Best Actress in Silver Linings Playbook was well deserved.
Where is that actress? Mystique is BOR-ING in Apocalypse, and quite frankly, too familiar. I see Catniss Everdeen, only dressed in a blue jumpsuit with deep orange hair and bright yellow eyes. Even in her non-Mutant form, she resembled the Mocking Jay, right down to the long braid hanging down the middle of her back. Mystique’s actions against Magneto in Days of Future Past even “inspire” Xavier’s students...sound familiar? Catniss Everdeen’s antics in the Hunger Games inspired an entire nation.
There are simply too many similarities to ignore. I think this was intended by the filmmakers. As a follow-up to one of my original statements in the article, the X-Men franchise is underrated. During opening weekend in the US, Apocalypse only grossed $80 million at the box office, less than half of Captain America: Civil War’s $181 million. Maybe the producers wanted to use Lawrence’s star power to help drive sales? Maybe they thought that if elements of the storyline and character matched her performance of Catniss Everdeen, people would identify with Mystique subconsciously, and connect with her character?
I don’t know if any of that is true, of course. It’s all just speculative. But...it might explain Lawrence’s lackluster performance.
The film was long, but not unnecessarily so. Every scene, and every moment, drove the story. I laughed, several times, and almost cried once or twice. The end had me smiling, and as always, excited for the next installment.
SEE THIS FILM. I think it will be a hard one to top this summer.