X-Men: Apocalypse

The X-Men films have always been a mixed bag of party terrible and pretty awesome. Sometimes it leans more one way than the other, but except for The Wolverine I've always come out feeling somewhat entertained despite major problems. The reviews on Apocalypse have been mixed to terrible which puts a different perspective on this reaction. Take for example Oscar Isaac. The franchise has done a pretty good job to this point getting high-caliber actors into some rich, complex scenes. Now we have this future acting legend playing the main bad guy and he gets remarkably little to do. (So little, there's a scene showing him working on cool costumes for his four allies while the good mutants are still organizing.) There's a scene with just Isaac and Fassbender and the two have nothing interesting to talk about.

That's all downside and I expected that going in, but that's not all Oscar Isaac gets to do. The buzz of disappointment has set the bar so low that anytime he wasn't shouting to the heavens, which is more often than not, I was delighted. That's a good way of explaining my non-hate for this movie. The entire middle is a lengthy side trip involving Col. William Stryker and three new mutants (Jean Grey, Cyclops and Nightcrawler) attempting to rescue Mystique, Beast and Quicksilver. Disconnected from the main plot, the script puts in everything you want to see in an X-Men movie, like another awesome and hilarious Quicksilver rescue - that joke has not gotten old - and an old (surprise?) favorite returning for some of the most violent action ever seen in the franchise. I'd always heard about the R-rated rage attacks of Wolverine, and they got away with it here. It's like Friday the 13th directed by Robert Rodriguez. The moment also ends with a great line of dialogue.

My favorite mutant

The quantity of special effects is way out of proportion to the story and character. The opening reminded me of The Mummy Returns. (Why does the sunlight look like computer screen? They couldn't get the glow of sunlight correct?) However, Fassbender gets more of an arc here than Days of Future Past, as does McAvoy, who I felt spent too much of the last film feeling sorry for himself. Jennifer Lawrence is above this, but she hasn't checked out. These are actors who can hold the screen, no matter what. Because of them, the series remains more of an actor's showcase than other superhero franchises, including Marvel. The new additions don't do as good of a job, particularly Sophie Turner (Jean Grey) who seems overwhelmed and Alexandra Shipp (Storm), who seems more excited to be in the film, like she won a contest. 

"Not all of us can control our powers."
"Then don't!"

Bryan Singer ends up with a movie that works better as a collection of scenes, but he also brings back one of the key elements that sets this superhero group apart. These aren't the cool kids, like The Avengers. Even though they can do cool things, they are outcasts in society, often picked upon because they're different. Even at Xavier's school, some students call one of the team a freak and in their own insecurity each think the slur is aimed at them. That's powerful and effective stuff that doesn't go unnoticed. This isn't the epic fun of Captain America: Civil War, but it's nowhere near as bad as Batman vs. Superman.
RATING: * * * - Okay


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