In the first of a new series, we break down X-Men: Apocalypse. Expect spoilers!
The Snooty Ushers are a pretty positive bunch. We like to see the good in everything. We also know the pain of having a horrible moment stick in your mind from a perfectly decent film. Sometimes, writing a simple review isn’t enough.
Well, this is the column that will allow us to praise what we like, and vent about what we didn’t. And X-Men: Apocalypse seems like as good a film as ever to start with! There will be spoilers as we list the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of Bryan Singer’s latest outing with the mutants.
Hit the theme tune and let’s get to it!
*That* Wolverine scene: A brutal, exhilarating scene that has taken the next Wolverine film to the absolute top of my must see list for 2017. The imagery of the helmets and tubes borrows beautifully from many of the Weapon X stories that started in 1974, but most famously by Barry Windsor Smith in 1991.
Although it is another example of ridiculous continuity problems. I like how they explain why Wolverine is drawn to Jean Grey when he does show up at the mansion. In the comics its because she looks so similar to the love of his life (a red head called Rose) before he became Wolverine. The sight of her triggered something in him.
Ancient Egypt: It looked pretty ruddy impressive!
Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This: Quicksilver has a much bigger role here than in Days Of Future Past, but he gets a moment to shine as he rescues almost everyone from Xavier Manor, to the tune of the Eurythmics 1983 hit. A nice comedy interlude.
Charles Xavier’s Schoolboy Crush: Moira MacTaggert is the one that got away for Charles Xavier. When he sees her again, his feelings are revealed to Alex Summers. James McAvoy’s stumbling, flustered delivery was a nice touch, showing that he is a lot more human than we might think.
Magneto Flattens Auschwitz: Powerful, if risky, stuff, as Apocalypse takes Magneto to the concentration camp that unleashed his powers. He tells Magneto of his great strength, unlike the rest of the horsemen he doesn’t need to give him any extra powers. Magneto then destroys Auschwitz in a blistering scene. Out of context it might seem crass, but the X-Men films have always dealt with the most difficult and unpleasant subjects, like genocide and ethnic cleansing, head on.
Nightcrawler: Of all the teenage X-Men we’ve seen so far, this is definitely one of the best portrayals. Kodi-Smit McPhee is so fragile and twitchy you can’t help but feel for the character, whether he is fighting an Angel for survival in an underground East Berlin fight club, or trying to fit in with his new friends by wanting to go to a mall.
Meeting the new X-Men: The energy and hope of building a new team was great. Ok, so her from Game of Thrones was a bit wooden, but Nightcrawler and Cyclops were great, and the danger room scene at the end was class. Looking forward to seeing those 5 characters move the X-Franchise forward. Love the more comic accurate costumes.
The rest of that Alkali Lake sequence: The trip to Stryker’s facility was totally unnecessary, apart from the reveal of Wolverine as Weapon X . After the destruction of Xavier Manor, Beast, Mystique, Quicksilver, and Moira MacTaggert are taken away by helicopter, and Nightcrawler, Scott Summers, and Jean Grey go after them. So what happens to the rest of the students? Anyway, they are taken to a military base (Alkali Lake?) where they promptly escape (with the help of a particularly raging Wolverine) and head off to rescue Xavier. The whole thing was a needless pit stop, they could have left straight from the Manor – and it would certainly have made more sense for them to have fitted uniforms!
Apocalypse’s intricate costume designing: At one point, we see Apocalypse (in some random empty room) putting the finishing touches to Archangel’s armour, and adding some facial tattoos. Why was he so concerned about the minute cosmetic details of his Horseman? So much so that he doesn’t notice Xavier managing to telepathically contact Magneto.
Apocalypse v Xavier: You can see what they were trying to do, but Xavier punching Apocalypse made me cringe, although the “you’re going to need a bigger house” line was good. We saw Apocalypse pummel the leader of the X-Men in a fight… but what was actually happening? A telepathic fist fight, really? This felt silly, and added another layer to the finale that wasn’t really needed, in the same way Days OF Future Past did with cutting between the two time lines during its climax. (Dan rather like this bit though)
This isn’t the end of the trilogy: We started off with X-Men: First Class – all the pieces in place. X-Men: Days Of Future Past pushed Charles and Erik to the brink. X-Men: Apocalypse will surely give closure to the story. It doesn’t, it just pushes us a bit further along. It should have been more than just another episode. Also, setting the films 10 years apart is a gimmick that needs to stop, otherwise each stand alone film will mean less and less. The students are now X-Men! They’re being trained by having to fight the Sentinels! Cool – but we won’t see any of that.
Age your characters!: It’s been 20 years since we met this version of Charles, Erik, Hank, and Raven. The last two you can understand still being young looking (their mutation is related to appearance) but everyone in this film is still young looking, even given the period hairstyles and costumes. There must be something in the water at Xavier’s house.
Stan Lee’s Cameo: Only a little point, but it was just so mis-timed! Apocalypse launches all of the world’s nukes, while giving a bombastic (maybe his best) speech – is this the end of the civilization? Is someone going to swoop in and save the world? What will be – oh look it’s Stan Lee! More than a few people in my screening chuckled at this moment, which is not a reaction the filmmakers would have wanted. Strange timing.
Angel: Apocalypse was on a mission to surround himself with powerful mutants? Why did he go to this guy? Made no sense.
Mystique: Mystique has become a hero and within the trilogy’s story I can kind of understand. Yet Mystique is not this kind of person. She is devious, powerful, self serving and in many instances worse than Magneto. I don’t like her training the X Men. It feels more like Katniss Everdeen training the X Men and it shouldn’t.
Literally MILLIONS of people die: First, Apocalypse flattens Cairo to build his pyramid. Then, Magneto starts to destroy the world, using his powers to move the tectonic plates, and we see cities around the world having buildings ripped out of the ground and destroyed. That is just too much destruction. It’s not Man Of Steel or Transformers. Unless the next film deals with the consequences, this is terrible. And if it does… well we’ve already seen that type of story in Batman v Superman and Civil War. Do we need a third version? And won’t that take us far away from the reality as we know it, can you still set a film in the real world?
Apocalypse’s plan: Dude, prioritise your time. You don’t have to destroy the world and transfer your consciousness into another body at the exact same time. Do one, then the other. Wait 15 minutes, concentrate on the destruction of humanity, then add another power to your arsenal. A very contrived way to set up a weakness to be exploited. Plus if you really, really wanted to destroy humanity, it would have been so much easier just to drop those nukes back on to earth.
A tiny Apocalypse: The first and most powerful mutant. Why is is so wee? Really he should be around 6-7ft tall, and we could have at least cast someone who is taller than Magneto.
Just how long does it take Jean to jump in: Seriously love, everyone you care about is getting 7 bells knocked out of them, you are literally watching your mentor get his head melted and you just stand there until he pleads with you to help???
The Phoenix Imagery when Jean does get invovled: Are you F****** kidding me? What is it with just chucking this into the films so carelessly. It is a cosmic entity whose arrival heralds destruction on a par with Galactus and Thanos; its not a hairstyle change. Why not just have Jean Grey as a powerful telepathic/telekinetic mutant? It feels like every time we have Jean Grey we have to have the Phoenix because one cant exist without the other. She existed for years before the Phoenix showed up and it chose her because of her power… not she is powerful because she is the Phoenix. Don’t shoe horn in a giant future plot thread in the last 5 minutes. It waters down the impact of the phoenix saga if they do decide to follow that narrative. It’s infuriating
The Timelines: Fast and loose is one way to describe it, and striking previous X-Men films from the record is understandable (we all did it for Origins: Wolverine) but not one of us knew what the crack was from watching the recent films. The only thing that has been of any help is an interview with Bryan Singer & Simon Kinberg. Which lets be honest, have the majority of people who will watch this film actually read it? Surely it’s part of the films job to clarify this so that we can keep up with events. But instead we have timelines as clear as tar. And where does that leave any upcoming Gambit film? And just in case you weren’t sure yourself, here is that interview …http://collider.com/x-men-apocalypse-new-timeline-explained-bryan-singer/
What did Magneto think was going to happen to Charles?: By this we mean, in the climax of the film, the seemingly biggest motivating factor for Magneto to stop his destruction of the world is the imminent death of his old friend Charles. However at the start of the whole fight Apocalypse was going to take over his body anyway, meaning no more Charles, no more old friend, just a post-apocalyptic future. For a character with complex emotions, he sure can’t make his mind up as to what he wants to do or be!
Magneto walks away at the end of the film: No consequences? He helped kill the bad guy and rebuilt the School, so it’s all ok? See you in 1993 guys!
And that is our column! The plan is to run this column regularly for most big releases, and there’s no reason we couldn’t look back at a few older films as well. Any suggestions, let us know!
Until next time, stay gold, Ponyboy, stay gold. See you soonish.
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