Sunday, May 29, 2016

FF Film Review: X-Men Apocalypse (4/5)


[Caution: Some spoiler and plot details]

In the third X-Men film featuring the younger cast of mutants, it is set in 1983; twenty years after First Class, and ten years after Days of Future Past. Just as a slight fatigue starts to settle in on the X-Men franchise, I was nervous that Apocalypse would signal it winding down or set the stage for another changing of the guard. But if anything, X-Men Apocalypse re-introduced enough younger X-Men to justify the continuation of this franchise. In living up to its title, the X-Men are faced with dealing with the original mutant, Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac). He wakes up after being dormant for nearly 4,000 years and he's very disgusted with the state of the world in the late 20th century. As he's coming to his senses, he comes across another mutant, a young Storm (Alexandra Shipp). After Apocalypse has a crash course in getting up to speed on the way things are in the modern world, he sets plans in action to cleanse the world of filthy, war mongering humans, and start anew with just mutants on the planet. But first, he needs a few more human hating X-Men to join his posse.

Michael Fassbender as Magneto/Erik Lehnsherr
Meanwhile, in Poland, Erik (Michael Fassbender) is playing nice and trying to blend in with the humans by being a polite, quiet, low-keyed factory worker. He's married and has a little girl who also has beautiful animal friendly mutant powers. For the first time in Erik's life, he is happy... but also in hiding due to his act of war crimes from the past decade. By accident, Erik saved a man's life, but by doing so, he revealed his hidden powers. Humans being the backstabbers they are, alert authorities of what they saw Erik do, and they come looking for him. In the process of taking Erik into custody, a moment repeats itself similar to when Erik was taken away from his mother, and again, his life is ruined. Erik becomes Magneto on steroids, and he's done playing nice with the humans. Apocalypse is now aware of Erik and uses Erik's righteous anger on a mission to destroy the world. Magneto was already a powerful mutant, but under Apocalypse's guidance, he becomes even stronger and the world is once again informed of just how scary, bad and powerful Magneto is.

With electromagnetic chaos occurring all over the world, and with the world's nuclear weapons being destroyed, the X-Men convene at Professor X's School for the Gifted. Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) has matured but her physical appearance is not blue Raven, and the same for Beast (Nicholas Hoult) by using his serum to suppress his blue skinned alter-ego. The newer versions of Cyclops, Night crawler, and Jean are introduced in short back stories which starts to make the movie feel a bit bloated. That's not to be a negative, but it just demonstrates how relevant and interesting each X-Men character is, and to just insert them in the film without explaining who they are would be an injustice, so the film suffers slightly in trying to give intro space for each integral X-Men. Due to the destruction that the Apocalypse crew is causing around the world, Charles/Prof. X (James MacAvoy) uses Cerebro to log on into the minds of mutants and humans to see what's going on. For the first time 10 years, Charles and Erik meet in their minds and Charles comes to understand Erik's newest pain and anger. But with Apocalypse coming to learn about Charles' existence and his powerful mutant skills to enter the minds of anyone on the planet, Apocalypse sets his sights on using Charles' body as his next conscience transfer. Apocalypse uses Cerebro to track down Charles and capture him, and in the process, the school is destroyed.

Evan Peters as Quicksilver
The most brilliant scene in the film was with Quicksliver (Evan Peters) as he arrived at the school just in time to save the students. This scene had the Eurythmics' Sweet Dreams playing, and it was just a spectacular use of CGI and slow motion and demonstrating Quicksliver's awesome super speed mutant powers. The film switched gears again by inserting the evil Colonel Stryker. I did not expect to see him and it was a minor 'what?' moment, but I went with the flow because when there's Stryker, Wolverine is not far behind. Seeing a feral and abused Wolverine go full rampage was the second best scene in this great film. This slight detour in the film will most likely be used to set up the next round of X-Men films.

The ending was predictable but satisfactory. The heavy reliance on CGI can get a little old, but when it comes to super powerful beings destroying the world, this is when CGI must be employed to simulate the mind blowing destruction that occurs. There will be more X-Men films in the future because the new recruits of Jean Grey, Storm, Cyclops, and Night crawler will be fascinating characters when they are given more room in future films to breathe. Especially Jean Grey, so much more can be done with her character because her mutant powers are untapped and can be horrifying if not controlled.

However excellent Michael Fassbender was in Apocalypse, his turn this time, he really brought his A-game into this role. Michael has clearly demonstrated that he is a superior actor by bringing so much depth and emotion into Erik's world. I almost feel that Apocalypse should be Michael's last time at bat as the younger Magneto because he's so stand out, so commanding on the screen, that anything short of a full blown stand alone Magneto film would feel like 20th Century Fox and Marvel is cheating the integrity of the Magneto character, and the actor, Michael Fassbender. I know I'm biased, but many other fans and reviews of this film think the same way. A two-time Academy award nominated actor portraying a superhero character that is multi-dimensional, and equally loved and feared, deserve so much better than being a supporting X-Men character. So far, only Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) has had a stand alone film. His character is very meat and potatoes and has a crazy military and war background and a strong fan base that was hungry for a solo film. I don't know if Magneto has that same level of interest in a separate film. He's a beloved character, and a very powerful mutant, but his story is more sad (Nazis and Auschwitz) and a bit more high-brow and cerebral - a film plot not for the lowest common denominator.

X-Men Apocalypse is a very entertaining film. There are just too many X-Men to really embrace and appreciate appropriately in this film. I think this is the last time we'll see some of the characters we have enjoyed from these three films, but that's fine because there were some worthy characters re-introduced to us this time. I think James MacAvoy is in this for the long haul because his Prof. X is integral to his school he developed. However, I think Jennifer is done with Mystique because I sensed a lack of interest in her when watching her on screen, she seemed, bored or distracted. And Michael, I think he gave this his all and did a fantastic job in what may and should be his swan song as Magneto. He's just too damn good of an actor to play second or even third fiddle mutant in the X-Men movies - and he has second billing. Maybe Michael will make a cameo appearance in future films, because Quicksilver has something to tell Magneto.

Score: 4/5 stars - go see this!


angelica cecilia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
angelica cecilia said...

You're absolutely right. Michael is a character actor who proved to be another level from the rest of the cast in this film, so we must thank him for what he brought to Magneto and he deserved nothing but success for his own.

Ramona Cunyus said...

Michael was brilliant! He always is. His acting is phenomenal.

Ramona Cunyus said...

Michael was brilliant! He always is. His acting is phenomenal.

Martha said...

I saw this last night with my siblings. We all liked the movie, granted none of us are invested in the comic but the story was well told. I think the backstory for Apocalypse was essential as many people have no clue who this guy is. The introductions for the younger militants was fine. Many people are familiar with the older counterparts even if they don't read the comic.

I did not feel that there were too many mutants. There were far more in Days of Future Past. I part of the reason it may seem that Jennifer seemed bored was because her screen time was not like in the others. But you may be right.

As always Michael was excellent although I do think his family time could have been better told. The one character that I do think was completely unnecessary was Moria. I really think she didn't belong in this story. So Charles loves her, that was the point of her being there. I really think that did not need to be explored.

Yes if Magneto is seen again it should be his own film. I do think the fandom would support such a film. Magneto is such a complex character that I think people are sympathetic to him. Even after he killed all those men at the end I still feel sad for him. As far as him getting second billing I think it has more to do with him being the bad guy. Charles is the most central of the character in this ensemble. But yeah he should have been first.

I really enjoyed this movie. For me it moved quickly even at almost 2 1/2 hours.

The showing of Assasin's Creed trailer was great. Some little boy (maybe 9) in the audience told his dad, "We're gonna see that".

Martha said...

I meant to say the younger "mutants"

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