Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Movie Review: X-Men Apocalypse

I watched X-Men Apocolypse during a weekend in May and my overall opinion is positive. There are flaws in the narrative but Its The Same Now It Sucks, is not one of them.  I will do my usual of examining Plot, Character, and Polish while also addressing flaws that I have heard and read. Then I will assign a grade.


The prologue is fantastic. It is basically the climax of a different story with different heroes who enact their plan to defeat the Big Bad and save the day. Then there's this cool-looking "time tunnel" for the credits. It's a great start.

On the other hand, the movie's main narrative starts out divided. Normally, I take this as a bad sign because it shows a lack of focus. There's a scene with Scott's Cyclops powers awakening, then something in Poland with a guy who is implied to be Magneto. It's a "how is this relevant" sort of feeling. Then there's a scene with Apocalypse waking up and walking around Cairo.

The rest of the plot is more unified and focused. Even the Weapon X (Essex) thing fits in with the likely/logical response to what happened previously. Also, the plot doesn't follow a standard escalation. The final battle looked to be something pen-ultimate before the tables turned again.

I've read how the biggest criticism of this movie is that it deals with the same themes as previous X-Men movies and doesn't break any new ground. In response to that:

1.  All of These X-Men Films are X-Men Films
-->Of course, they're going to be similar in themes and problems and conflict etc. They're all working from the same premise. X-Men without Fantastic Racism is not X-Men. Diabolic villains that are not influenced by something relating to such a theme is likewise a minority in their Rogue's Gallery.

2. "Not Breaking Ground" is Not a Flaw.
--> Dismissing a film because it is not ground breaking is like saying everything has to be innovative in order to be worth something. If something is "not ground breaking" then that it is not a problem because the person with this mindset would toss something innovative away once they have experienced it.  Look up "Seinfeld is Unfunny" on Tvtropes to see what I mean. 

 I am disgusted every time I see a review that is negative solely (or even mostly) because the reviewer thinks it is "same-old same old". They will never, ever, find anything original; not in any medium. It may sound "fresh" to them because they haven't personally seen anything like it, or no one has done anything recently like it, but that does not make it original. A well constructed and executed paint-by-numbers piece is worth more (in my opinion) than an original piece of crap. 

 3. These Characters and Plots are Not Static
--> if you're still looking for broken ground, or at least something different from previous films, then you're not looking hard enough. For instance, Magneto's not the villain this time.  He's neither the Big Bad nor does he usurp the Big Bad's plan or become the next Big Bad. If you're paying attention, you'll notice that Magneto's role has been different in every movie and none more so than this one.

In regards to the villains, there has been plenty of diversity in villains. In fact, Apocalypse is the first "take over the world" villain in this series. The first movie was about turning humans into mutants, "X2" was a psychic genocide against mutants by a non-mutant, and "The Last Stand" focused on the mutant cure and the rampage of Dark Phoenix.  In "First Class", Shaw had this Nuke 'Em option which probably would have killed everyone (mutant and otherwise) and in "Days of Future's Past" there is the Sentinel plan which goes horribly wrong and wipes out everyone. Apocalypse is unlike all of them. 
In terms of flaws, I would point to the divided narration after the prologue and the lack of set up for Jean's Phoenix Force. There are a few indications of it before it comes to the fore.

 The Ending is great. There is resolution to the Apocalypse conflict but both smaller personal problems remain and the larger struggle for mutant-human coexistence continues.


Xavier. It's interesting to see him in this film because it is half way between what he was like in ''First Class'' and how he appears in the first X-Men movie of the original trilogy. He's started the school, become this All Loving Hero teacher and he's in a wheelchair but he's still (comparatively speaking) young and inexperienced.  He's started down the path of becoming the "wise old sage" Professor X is generally known as but he is still young and still tender, so he's kind of a student too.  He's also not a Wide-Eyed Idealist. He is still The Idealist but not wide-eyed.  He shares Erik's fears about mutant oppression but he is confident that they can be overcome.

Raven has evolved into a counterpoint to her foster brother. Instead of teaching control and self-acceptance in a safe mansion bubble, she is out in the trenches rescuing mutants from human cruelty. She urges him to teach his students how to fight; not to go to war but to prepare for a war.  You could say she is the Realist to Xavier's Optimist.

Erik is cynic.  He's tried Xavier's way and it cost him his family a second time. He even tried the "protect those that fear you" thing when saving a co-worker. Now he's back to working on mutant supremacy. It's kind like of like watching someone fall back into addiction after being sober for a while. Yes, he's done awful things and, yes, he adds a few more in this movie, but he's not a monster. He's someone that has been broken by grief, several times, and recruited by someone evil when he was at a moment of weakness.


It looks amazing. Whoever put together Quicksilver's "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" scene deserves an award.

Trickster Eric Novels gives X-Men Apocalypse an A+

The previous movie review is Ant Man

Brian Wilkerson is a freelance book reviewer, writing advice blogger and independent novelist. He studied at the University of Minnesota and came away with bachelor degrees in English Literature and History (Classical Mediterranean Period concentration).

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