Tuesday, June 7, 2016

X-Men: Apocalypse

Normally when I talk about a movie I start with a poster or some other sort of marquee art. This time I'm starting with the image that for some reason pissed of a whole lot of women. I didn't even know this was a thing until the other day, but it sure made me mad. So mad that I can't even start talking about the movie until after I get this anger off my chest. Honestly I kind of thought that it was too late into the release for me to write a review, but I got so mad that I felt the need to stick up for that image. Of course, I also just want to talk about this movie - because X-Men!

In case you hadn't heard there was a huge billboard (the image at the top there) in L.A., and it was decided by Rose McGowan and some other overly sensitive PC types that it was selling a movie by showing violence against women. What the actual fuck? Mystique is a mutant, and therefore classed as Homo Superior. Meaning, she's not a woman. This is promoting mutant on mutant crime if anything, and if Rose McGowan wanted to complain about that I'd be fine. X-Men movies spend too much time with mutants fighting amongst themselves anyway. I know that in this sad world we live in some men do bad things to women. Beatings, emotional torture, and rape are all terrible things. I wish we didn't have to deal with stuff like that, but this is a fucking movie about mutants with superpowers fighting to save the world so we don't have to deal with it here! This is not some macho action flick where dudes are smacking around girls to show how tough they are. This was the main hero was fighting the main villain in an important point of the movie. Fox probably thought that people might want to see it more knowing that Jennifer Lawrence was in mortal danger from a big baddie. If Apocalypse had been choking Wolverine not one woman would have batted an eye. What about violence against men? Do they not get beaten or raped? And the fact that Fox apologized pissed me off almost as much as the women who complained to get it taken down. I know that a huge corporation like Fox can't afford to fight something like this without creating an even bigger uproar, but really. They should have just quietly taken it down, and let Rose McGowan get over herself. I know she's been through some shit and had tough times. I also know that if you're gonna get all butt-hurt every time you see an image that displeases you then you should just stay home with your eyes closed, and maybe put your fingers in your ears just in case. Okay, rant over.

Now we can move on to how I felt about the actual movie. Since it's been out for almost 2 weeks now either you've already seen it, heard about it from someone who did, or read some sort of synopsis. As such, I'm not going to spend a ton of time giving story set up. This is also my time to say all the things I didn't get a chance to say or didn't know I'd want to say (the movie not being out at the time we recorded) our X-Men podcast. If you want to hear Phantom, Chad, and myself talk about X-Men movies for an hour and a half then please go here. Keep reading either way though. At it's core it's the same as most of the other movies. The X-Men are good, a bad guy shows up for them to fight, but then they end up fighting Magneto again. So rather than rehash what you already know I'm going to talk more about what was good, and what was not so good about it. I don't say bad because I didn't think there was anything particularly bad. There were just a few things that bugged me, as there always are in everything. 

First the not as good:

Psylocke was one of my favorite mutants ever, and I was sooo excited to see her get a decent part in a movie. She was in that terrible third movie, but only for a second and she wasn't really Psylocke. I get that Olivia Munn is a nerd, and looks good in the costume, but she didn't really do anything. Either someone figured out she wasn't cutting it at the beginning and scaled back her part or all of her scenes were deleted during the editing process. I also assume that they didn't want to confuse a less geeky audience with too many psychics hence her only having the psionic sword. It was still cool, but I wanted a bigger badass. That's just me being biased towards a character though.

Back to my earlier point: why are we using the same bad guys over and over again? It's always Magneto and Stryker with someone like Apocalypse or Trask tossed in there for a small taste of variety. I know that Magneto is pretty much the main bad guy forever, but there have been lots of other villains that they could fight. Certainly enough that they wouldn't need to fight Magneto in every damn movie. Don't get me wrong, I love Michael Fassbender, and not in Chris Hemswoth-y way. Okay, except in 300, but other than that I just think he's a great actor. What about Mojo, a well done Juggernaut, Mister Sinister, hell I'd even like to see Arcade (as long as Weird Al was playing him)?

Why can't Angel ever be cool? I know it's been said that I have a prejudice against characters named Angel, but I've never been a big fan of Warren ever. Maybe we just don't need him in movies. I thought I'd be better knowing he's Archangel in this one so he'd be a little tougher, but no. I don't like the character at all no matter how much "piss off" attitude and leather they give him. With so many other Horsemen to choose from I feel like they could have done better. 

I know that Jennifer Lawrence is a big ass movie star now, but I hate that she has become the focus of what should be an ensemble movie. So many other great characters and actors get shoved to the periphery to give her more screen time. I like her as Mystique, but I almost wish we could go back and rewrite history again to get someone else in the role. Jubilee isn't one of my favorites either, but why show what is obviously her if you're not going to let her use her powers? 

I'm not going to go nuts about Oscar Issac in the Apocalypse makeup. It's well covered ground at this point. I thought what they did with his voice was super cool, and it didn't need to be Oscar Issac once they put all that shit on him, but it didn't bug me that it was him.

And now on to all of the good:
More BAMPH-ing! I love the new young Nightcrawler. He was weird and awkward the way a kid who grew up in an Eastern European circus suddenly thrown in to the decadent America of the 80's would be. Singer also kept the character looking close to the Alan Cumming version so I could totally believe that they were the same person in different time lines and periods of life. All of the new younger version of the mutants were really good though. I thought Sansa Stark (I know she has a real name, but for now she's still Sansa) made a much better Jean Grey than I initially feared she would. At first I just assumed she was cast because of Game of Thrones being huge right now, and had red hair. She made Jean nicely complex and ridiculously powerful without being self-pitying or bitchy. The way they used Havok to bring Cyclops in to the story was also well done (despite the fact that neither he nor Quicksilver have aged enough for it to have been 10 years since the last time we saw them), and I found myself liking him more than I usually like Scott Summers as a character. The new Storm was fucking amazing though. Maybe even better than Angela Bassett would have been back in the day. I don't want to set that in stone or anything, but that girl was great. I'm still not gonna be a Storm fan ever, but I didn't want her to die for the first time in a VERY long time. 

They gave Magneto back his heart before sending him out on another vengeance filled killing spree. He wasn't too sympathetic in Days of Future Past so I thought it was important to show him having something besides mutant rights to be mad about. Although if they just have him flipping back and forth between heart-broken rage and militant evil that will get old quick too. 

At last, a Morlock. One is better than nothing. Yeah, they sort of used them in The Last Stand, but they called them something stupid like the Omegas and gave Callisto the powers that Caliban has. Will that movie ever stop giving us reasons to hate it? Anyway I was happy to see Caliban this time around, and I hope they use more of them in the future. There are some pretty good fights between the Morlocks and the X-Men so that's another villain alternative too. 

At first I was annoyed that Wolverine was shoehorned in there, but I guess it does give a good basis for how quickly the relationship between him and Jean forms later on. It'll be a long time before new Jean is old enough to be age appropriate for Logan so I guess there's some big casting decisions to make on the horizon. I suppose they could cut the romance, but that's kind of a big deal in the comics and previous movies so I don't think it could or should happen.

The one decent thing I can think of about in The Last Stand was that I finally got to see a Sentinel and the Danger Room at the same time. After getting real Sentinels in the last movie I only needed to get a new Danger Room to make the last vestiges of the previous experience go away forever. The new uniforms looked very cool, and it felt like we were finally done getting the band back together and could move on to some of the stuff I hope to see.

Stuff like explaining the Phoenix Force. We can just believe that Jean has super crazy powers that no one can match (wait. Just hit me. If Jean is so strong why didn't Apocalypse go after her rather then Professor X? If you have an explanation please let me know) or we can learn about the Shi'ar and maybe The Brood. Magneto could set up Asteroid M, and everything could just be in space the next movie (no Beyonders though please. I dislike the Savage Land). I know it won't happen, but these are the things I think about. 

And of course, just like everyone else I absolutely loved the Quicksilver slo-mo scene. You knew they would have one, but it was on such a larger scale this time. As many times as the mansion has blown up in movies and comics it's amazing Xavier can even afford home-owners insurance. He's premiums have got to be insane by now. It does seems strange that as easily as Quicksilver went about saving everyone that he was just bumming around in the basement for the last 10 years. 

Anyway, this thing is getting pretty long so I'll wrap up. I really liked Days of Future Past, but I liked Apocalypse even better. It had problems, but just like the previous movie the good outweighed the bad for me. Now we're ready to fight all kinds of other villains and see what this fully formed team can do. Ooh, and if they bring in Cable they can tie him in to the next Deadpool movie. Since Cable is all time travel-y anyway he can easily pass between the 90's (I'm assuming) of the next X-Men movie and the Deadpool of today. Again, probably not, but a girl can have her incredibly nerdy dreams.


Beth got her start writing for a site called Movie Criticism for the Retarded (which has been reborn as dorkdroppings.com. Check it out sometime), but was pulled out of an early retirement to write for Needless Things. When she isn't writing she plays video games and watches bad horror movies while eagerly awaiting the zombie apocalypse. She may try to save her husband and/or their cats, but luckily hasn't had to make those tough decisions yet.

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