Ashley’s Uncanny X-Watch: Apocalypse

Today is May 27th, and X-Men: Apocalypse is now in US theaters. I’ve watched and written about every X-Men movie in the franchise so far in preparation for this moment. And now, your SPOILER-FREE review of the new addition to the X-Canon.

I did not read any reviews of Apocalypse before I went to see it. I had heard that many people thought it was bad, so I was prepared for that, but I didn’t want the potential for my enjoyment of the movie to be ruined. Yeah, it was a silly movie. It was overwrought and cheesy, but I honestly enjoyed it.

All of the faults with Apocalypse are the kind of faults that happen when the creators are having too much fun to write realistic dramatic dialogue or reveal the necessary amount of exposition in a natural way that helps the movie make sense. It was strange how terrible the dramatic dialogue was but how genuinely funny and clever most of the jokes/comic moments were. Whereas The Last Stand wanted us to take the ridiculous seriously, Apocalypse doesn’t expect us to do anything but have fun watching (even if at the expense of compelling drama and necessary gravitas). I was able to do that.

For the most part. The beginning part of Magneto’s storyline is atrocious. It’s the most out-of-character you could ever imagine Erik to be, and it’s the one part of the movie that does seem like it’s meant to be taken seriously. It’s impossible to. It pained me to watch, and it’s the one of two elements of this movie that I was not able to let go and enjoy.

The other element is that Wolverine cameo everyone’s been buzzing about. It’s exactly as unnecessary and shoehorned as you would expect. I resent its presence and its implications about other movies in the franchise. I AM SO SICK OF WOLVERINE.

Aside from those two issues, I had a hell of a time watching. I mean, come on! It’s set in the 80’s and fucking Apocalypse is the main villain. There was no way this movie wasn’t going to be over-the-top wild. The visuals were breathtaking, the action was thrilling. As long as you’re able to relax and laugh at the silly moments instead of cringe, I promise you’ll have some real fun watching Apocalypse.

The young mutants were fantastic and blew me away. All of the acting in this film was incredible (except for Olivia Munn as Psylocke although I might just think that because I don’t care for Olivia Munn). Especially considering the lines they were given to work with. Jean was compelling, Scott made you feel for him and Kurt/Nightcrawler was adorable, hilarious and one of the best parts of the whole movie. Peter/Quicksilver is back, doing exactly what he did in Days of Future Past, just on a bigger scale. I’m not mad about it. Sure it was a rehash, but I fucking loved it the first time, and I loved it just as much the second time too.

Apocalypse snatches up some young versions of X-Men for his cause, as well. Young Storm was a delight. I wish she had gotten more to do. Young Angel/Archangel was a complete and shameless Emma Frost-style retcon from The Last Stand, but he was fine.

Apocalypse as a villain was what you’d expect. He’s essentially a god. He’s removed from the rest of living beings. He doesn’t really have a personality, and he’s an ancient entity that has been displaced in time. He’s not compelling or very interesting as a character, but the things he does are amazing to look at. Visually, this is the most impressive and engaging X-Men film yet.

In my re-watch of these movies, Mystique/Raven’s arc has really stood out to me as being the most consistent, compelling and believable character journeys in the entire franchise. To my relief, this continues in this movie. Her journey follows what she’s been through so far, makes sense for her, and brings her, believably, to a different place from where we saw her in the original trilogy. It was well-plotted and well-acted by Jennifer Lawrence. My only complaint is that they really seemed to be avoiding showing blue Mystique for very flimsy reasons. I get that it’s a pain to do that makeup, but it’s hard to justify her being Jennifer Lawrence-mode most of the movie.

And the ending. For all its balls-to-the-wall insanity up to that point, the end to the central conflict was emotional, brilliant and affecting. It took something I have loved from the comics that had been spoiled by earlier movies in the franchise, and redid it, exactly as it should have been done the first time. This movie is far from my favorite in the series, but that moment filled me with a joy more powerful than I’ve ever felt watching a superhero movie, or really any movie. Apocalypse could have been even more of a train wreck, and it still would have been worth it (for me, personally) for that moment.

Yes, it was a train wreck. But a thoroughly delightful one. One I would absolutely see again. If you only like movies that make sense and are well-written, then no, X-Men: Apocalypse is not for you. But if you like your movies fun and exciting before anything else, then I definitely recommend it.

I can’t believe we’re finished with all the X-movies! This was quite an emotional journey for me, and I’m so glad that I did it. To the few of you who have been reading these, bless you all. I love you. We’ll meet again, I’m sure, whenever the next Wolverine vehicle hits theaters.

PS- If you don’t care about spoilers, or you already saw Apocalypse, you might enjoy listening to myself and my podcasting partner, Jeffrey Marra, discuss it on our show.


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