Friday, June 10, 2016

X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)

The ninth entry in the X-Men franchise is the weakest yet. Introduction of new characters was supposed to reinvigorate the series, but poor casting and storytelling tropes made Apocalypse fail.

I am not feeling superhero fatigue yet, but after Dark Knight, Deadpool, even the first two X-Men, I have higher expectations of comicbook movies. Gone are the days that the audience would be sold just because the costumes looked right, or the effects were fancy. We are used to taking those as a given in 2010s. Story needs to engage and make sense to the audience. Apocalypse, the titular character, himself is not clear about his motivations. Based on my familiarity with the comics, I know that he believes in the survival of the fittest, and in a hunger-games-style ritual wants to find the best. The movie alludes to his motivations implicitly. But one thing I still do not know, is what Apocalypse going to do after he finds the fittest? More importantly, why he needs to find the fittest? I could ask many more questions, but you get my point: Apocalypse is a one dimensional character that fails to intimidate nor command respect. Not to undermine Oscar Isaac's acting. I believe he did the best he could with the given material.

Speaking of acting, I am tired of Jennifer Lawrence playing Jennifer Lawrence - the cool, unrelenting, strong woman - in every movie. She was not Mystique. Her celebrity status has become so much bigger than the role that she even refuses to put on the blue makeup. In X2: X-Men United, Nightcrawler asked Mystique why she didn't stay in disguise all the time to look like non-mutants, and she replied "because we [mutants] shouldn't have to". So staying her natural mutant form (i.e., blue skin) is being true to herself and an empowering fact. But seems lady Lawrence does not like to stay in the makeup chair for too long. The other returning cast members, James McAvoy, Hugh Jackman, and particularly Michael Fassbender do a good job and stay true to their characters.

As to the new additions, I found the actors playing Scott Summers (Cyclops) and Nightcrawler poorly cast for their roles. These actors (not even going to look up their names) do not belong in a superhero movie. They look like terrified kids that should be in a horror film running away from Jason or Freddy Krueger. Sophie Turner also lacked the charisma of Famke Janssen's Jean Grey, but at least she could act.

It seems Bryan Singer needs a change of scenery. To be fair, he has been stuck with the same characters since the first X-Men that came out in 2000. If anybody played with the same toys for 16 years in the same sandbox, they would get fed up with them. The franchise needs a new voice - as Matthew Vaughn brought to the X-Men First Class in 2011. Somebody who is passionate, has something to prove, and could play with these characters in a different way. While they are at it, wish they would reboot the franchise and bring in a new set of actors and even other characters from the rich X-Men universe.

This movie was a 5/10 for me.

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