I am writing this goddamn review. I have been trying to pick 47 Reviews back up for months now, and the admin page is a wasteland of half written reviews and broken dreams. But this one is happening. I didn’t make any Memorial Day plans, and now this is my penance. This is my destiny.
I have been a HUGE fan of the X-Men franchise. Bryan Singer’s 2000 X-Men movie helped launch the current age of the superhero movie. He created a modern day, real world setting in which people who blast lasers from their eyes exist, and he made you care. Then he blew everyone away with X2: United and delivered on one of the best movies of 2000’s, comic book or otherwise. Remember that opening Nightcrawler scene?? Holy SHIT that was amazing.
Then Brett Ratner took the reins and shit the bed with X-Men: The Last Stand.
Anyway, the 2011 Matthew Vaughn helmed X-Men: The First Class helped reinvigorate a now tainted franchise and introduce the younger version of some characters we’ve grown to love. Then Bryan Singer came back to direct X-Men: Days of Future Past which was not only a freaking AMAZING movie with a beautifully complex plot, incredible action, and rich, compelling characters, but also managed to retcon much of the damage wrought by the aforementioned Brett Ratner.
And do you remember that Quicksilver scene?? Holy SHIT that literally goes down as one of the best things that’s hit my eyeballs in the last 10 years.
And that brings us to X-Men: Apocalypse, again directed by Bryan “Can Do No Wrong” Singer (except for maybe “Jack the Giant Slayer,” but we don’t have to talk about that). I did my best to manage expectations, but obviously went in with high hopes.
There is so much this movie does right. The opening scene, for example, does a pretty remarkable job of introducing a character who is thousands of years old, establishes what he’s about, and how he finds himself in what is now the 1980’s.
Singer and his crew also seem to do a great job of drawing the right amount of inspiration from the comics to fit the narrative they’re creating. I’m not one of those fan boys who throws a fit when film makers take some liberties with the source material to make a relevant, entertaining story, and for the most part X-Men usually hits that fine balance.
And incredibly, remarkably, almost unbelievably, they really tie both trilogies back into each other pretty neatly so that all 6 movies feel pretty organically linked together. I mean, that alone is a fantastic achievement on their part, considering the first one was 16 years ago, had zero plan for this kind of setup, and all without a Kevin Feige overarching vision to rein in the myriad of writers and directors working on all this.
Plus they put Olivia Munn in that outfit.
So with everything they did right, I think this movie still suffered from something I call “Third Installment Trilogy Sydrome,” or TITS for short.
The problem with TITS is that with people feeling the need to go bigger, grander, and constantly up the ante, they pack too much in there and they become bloated and unmanageable under their own weight. I love TITS as much as the next guy, and obviously having TITS is better than having nothing at all, but at a certain point the TITS are so massive you’ve lost that human aspect that attracted you in the first place.
For example (and not to get lost under the weight of this extremely ample metaphor), X-Men: Apocalypse starts throwing a bunch of new characters at you without any depth or clear motivation. They do their best using movie short hand to give you the cursory emotional connection, but you start to feel like you’re just watching a bunch of stuff happening to people you don’t care about.
Scott Summers, aka Cyclops, gets the meatiest introduction, and I’d say is one of the few new faces that I cared about. Jean Grey also gets a pretty decent intro, but for every two you feel something for, there’s about a dozen you can’t connect with. Psylocke, Angel, Jubilee, even Nightcrawler just kind of show up and do things.
And of course like many third installments, we have “Destruction On a Near Global Scale,” or DONGS. It’s would be tough to talk about TITS without also mentioning DONGS. Seeing new DONGS should be a thrilling experience. When you go to the movies to see DONGS, you want a feast for the eyes! But, much like TITS, when DONGS are so big that you can’t even conceptualize what it’s like to experience something like that, you’re no longer entertained. And if your mind can’t wrap itself around what’s happening because there’s no more human element, you’re just getting slapped in the face with DONGS.
Without getting too specific about Apocalypse, you know there’s gonna be some worldwide destruction, ESPECIALLY of some notable cities and landmarks. Which yeah, makes for one hell of a spectacle. But at a certain point, I can’t related to what’s happening. Just seeing a bunch of CGI sets get blown apart starts to lose its impact when you can’t connect with the human beings actually going through the experience.
One small, final critique is that I think Bryan Singer has done such an amazing job in the past of taking a new look at a singular mutant’s power and showcasing that ability in a brilliant, breathtaking action scene. Nightcrawler in X2, Quicksilver in Days of Future Past, even Wolverine in his first X-Men movie had an awesome Statue of Liberty fight with Sabertooth.
Unfortunately, I don’t think we get that new look in Apocalypse. Not to say there aren’t some really cool action pieces, but nothing that is so fresh and spectacular you’ll be talking about it around the water cooler on Monday morning.
That’s it, my two cents about the new X-Men movie. Still really enjoyed it, but it didn’t quite satisfy expectations (also kind of felt like Michael Fassbender, who has previously given some really powerful turns as Magneto, dialed in his performance this time around).
Ryan Lynch, this article is dedicated to you, you magnificent son of a bitch. You got me writing these goddamn articles 5 years ago, and now it’s time for you to pick your own quill and ink back up. Excelsior!!
Have you seen the movie? What did you think about it? Let me know in the comments below!
~ Jonny Green