80’s X-Men: was number 8 really that great?

So I’ve had a a week to thoroughly think over what I thought of X-Men: Apocalypse now, and after having a scan over a few reviews here and there, my opinion on is pretty well-formed by now. To get to the point, I liked it – but, to be honest, I’m bound to like it. I’ve grown up watching the X-Men films, so I definitely have a soft spot for the franchise, and in order for me to give a poor review on one of the films it would have to be truly shit. And I’m quite glad to say that this one wasn’t shit; there were many great moments of character development and emotion, and although there were too many supporting characters within the film, I enjoyed seeing the new editions/return of familiar faces. This isn’t to say that there weren’t aspects of poor quality within the film. There were definitely certain lines that seemed forced and unnatural amongst the action, put in there for the purpose of dramatic effect that just sort of caused me to cringe internally. I wasn’t particularly impressed with the villain, either – reviews highlight how one-sided he is, and how he is purely just ‘a bad guy’; there’s not much to him, and he’s kind of overshadowed by Magneto, a beautifully complex villain(?) with so much background and explanation to his actions. (Warning: spoilers ahead.)

There’s no denying that the highlight of the film was Erik. The writers did him so much justice in this film, and I’m so glad they did – his character is definitely an important one when it comes to explaining the more extremist view points of revolutionaries who wish to make a change in the world, and although he has been portrayed as ‘the bad guy’, these prequels have certainly demonstrated how Erik isn’t simply just that. This is a man who has survived the holocaust, witnessed his mother being shot by a Nazi, faced that same Nazi and killed him, witnessed his best friend be shot and paralysed, watched many of his friends die in the fight for his cause, seen the whole world turn against him, try to redeem himself and start a family, watch that family be murdered… I could go on and on about Erik’s troubles, but, the main point is that Erik has seen a lot of shit, and he has no idea how to cope with that. Does that make him a bad guy? No, it just makes human (well, theoretically). Apocalypse gives us a whole new helping of Erik Lehnsherr, and it’s a good one. My only criticism of this would be is that because it’s such a fantastic piece of character development, he completely overshadows the title villain of this film. Great news for Mr. Fassbender, not so great news for Mr. Isaac.

Speaking of Oscar Isaac, his role wasn’t a particularly impressive one – in fact, it was pretty bland. To me, he was this really old blue guy who had this delusion that he was a God; perhaps ambiguity was what the writers were going for with this character, but he appeared less so ambiguous, more so basic and two-dimensional. As someone who is supposedly an all-powerful being who expects people to fear and worship him, he was awfully uninteresting and, well, weak in comparison to the others in the film. If anything, the sentinels in Days of Future Past were more fascinating, and had more of a reason for their lack of personality.

Charles Xavier had a disappointing part in this film, as did Raven, Beast, Havok, Storm, Psylocke and Angel. The mass of new mutants in this film led to important ones being written somewhat half-heartedly, and I couldn’t help but feel that Charles and Raven, who have been fantastically written in the past, were slightly neglected and just used as pawns in plot progression. Hank has generally been written as ‘the smart guy’ troupe in this franchise, and whilst there arguably hasn’t been opportunity for his character to be developed, and the existence of troupes within this universe probably was inevitable considering how many characters there are, as someone who’s been by Professor X’s side for multiple films now, you’d expect that there’d be a little more to him than the fact that he’s a tech genius and a loyal friend. Havok’s death was a forgettable event amongst the rest of the action in the film, and whilst that isn’t super surprising considering that the main plot focus is that it’s literally the end of the world, it would’ve been better if the acknowledgement of his death was something more than “oh shit looks like Quicksilver’s too late again” and a brief mourning from Scott and Raven. For Storm, Psylocke and Angel, they didn’t really stand a chance when placed next to Magneto as the other three horsemen.

But to make the criticism a tad more constructive, the existence of these characters in Apocalypse wasn’t completely irrelevant and pointless. It was enjoyable seeing them there, and as someone who loves superheroes, to me, the more there are in a film, the merrier. Sure, they weren’t well-balanced out and not all were fantastically written, but the small child within me who loves seeing all these awesome heroes team up and work together to save the world, well, she loves it.

You could argue that the Quicksilver scene was a forced repeat of the previous one in Days of Future Past, but to do that you’d have to be one hell of a killjoy. Once again, the small child of my mind has taken the forefront, so I have to say that I love stupid dumb quirky Peter and his ridiculous silver hair and optimistic attitude. God, I hate that guy. But, God, I love that guy. Though you know what would improve him greatly? If he could just TELL ERIK THAT HE’S HIS SON. Bloody hell, Peter.

The golden trio (though would’ve been an awesome foursome if Jubilee was given a bigger role) of Scott, Jean and Kurt was a somewhat awkward dynamic, though I feel did paint a realistic picture of new friends learning about each other without seeming forced or unnatural amongst the rest of the action. Their unfamiliarity with their abilities and how to cope with them was well illustrated throughout the story, and the set up of a new generation of X-Men coming forth and learning from the veterans is an exciting one.

The story itself wasn’t fantastically paced or anything unique in comparison to the other films in the X-Men franchise, but it certainly was an interesting addition to the new revised universe. It was fascinating to see a follow-on from Days of Future Past, and whilst it wasn’t as well executed, and bared a somewhat similar resemblance to First Class (in terms of gathering mutants and training them up to fight a group of supervillains), I was happy with what I was given. All I have to do now is stop forgetting that it doesn’t matter that these prequels don’t link to the original set of films because it’s an alternate universe.

Not bad, Bryan.

Here’s to hoping for a Wolverine and Deadpool film in a few years time.

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5 comments

  1. atthematinee · May 26, 2016

    Nice review, have you shared writing like this on any movie sites before? 🙂

    Like

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