Is this an apocalyptic end to the X-men franchise, or a new beginning? X-Men Apocalypse opens in ancient Egypt with what could be the original mutant, one that has been around for generations due to the transference of his being into other mutants, and one that simply believes himself to be a god destined to rule the world. Fast-forward to the current timeline and Apocalypse picks up ten years after Days of Future Past. Magneto and Wolverine have disappeared. Raven has continued her one (wo)man army in protecting mutants. Beast and Charles have opened the school and grown if from a small group of mutants to an entire mansion full of mutants learning to control their powers while getting an education.
Apocalypse is not the best X-movie out there. However, it is currently ranked at #1 with $65 million for the 3 day weekend. Yet, Rotten Tomatoes ranks it the worst X-film in the entire franchise. So first… *raspberries* to Rotten Tomatoes. For me, they are becoming my indicator of liking a film or not; if they like it, I won’t. If they think it’s bad…. I’ll usually like it. Is it the worst X-film? It’s definitely not an Origins: Wolverine or X3 bad by any means. (The new Jean Grey even agrees that the third is the worst.) [*you have to watch the movie to get it]. Apocalypse is actually a solid movie, it’s just not the best. For me X-2 is still my all-time favorite, followed by DoFP, and then Apocalypse; yes… I’m ranking it third. Once again… *raspberries* to Rotten Tomatoes.
Allow me to break this down in terms of what I saw as the good and the bad.
Apocalypse. Oscar Isaac does a nice job bringing this villain to life as an actor. Sadly, his personal physique and stature is not all that impressive. The costume designers tried to bulk Isaac up through his costume, but it didn’t go over real well in my opinion. Hats off to them though, as they did a nice job incorporating a lot of the character’s book costume into the movie version. Overall, though, it just didn’t portray the massiveness of Apocalypse very well for me. Comic book readers, like me, will probably struggle with the fact that he doesn’t tower over his Four Horsemen nor over the X-Men. If you aren’t a comic reader, it may not phase you at all. In some fairness to Singer, he does try to bring in his size and ability to size change during a mental-vision sequence. I did appreciate seeing that imagery presented. However, the continual on screen miniature version was just lacking in impressiveness.
The other part for me that I struggled with the most in regards to Apocalypse was the face paint. It looked like face paint. It looked like thickly painted on dark clown make-up. I never once saw him where it looked like his skin; let alone a form of living metal. Being a fan of FaceOff I truly believe if they didn’t want to do CGI for his face, a good make-up artist could have come up with something more impressive than face paint.
Enough slamming Apocalypse… The second bad: Jean Grey. I just didn’t buy her. I wanted to. The character has always fascinated me. I just couldn’t buy Sophie Turner as her. I don’t blame Turner, though; I think it’s just how they wrote her for the movie. Young Grey was always skittish and nervous about her powers. Her presence for being in the film is even questionable. She has a meaningful dream sequence, and then she becomes an active member at the end. However, for the most part in the movie she just seems to be along for the ride.
As far as bad goes, that all I could come up with. Some reviews have been done knocking things that just don’t seem to matter. The craziest one was reading 2 different critics that stated that Fassbender basically falls flat because he doesn’t offer anything new to his character. Really?!? He’s playing the same guy in the third film and stays true to the character. I personally love Fassbender as Magneto as I feel like he brings forth the turmoil that the character has displayed in the comics for the past few decades.
1) Angel. Not only do we see the Angel, but we also see the transformation to the Archangel as both sets of wings are in this movie. 2) We FINALLY have the return of Nightcrawler; one of my personal favorite characters. 3) Evan Peters returns as Quicksilver with his wit and special slow-mo filming. 4) Psylocke’s movie “debut” (as a significant character). 5) Mohawk Storm… A personal favorite version of her character for me.
I honestly enjoyed seeing the new characters to the X-Universe as well as the introduction (prequal-duction, re-introduction… Something like that) of Cyclops, Angel, Jean Grey, and others. The origins here are more comic based and not pulled out of the air, which is greatly appreciated by this fan. However, it does lead to questions of time-lines and how the other movies connect to this beginning. There are some obvious continuity errors with the original X-movies, but nothing where I’m throwing in a yellow flag and calling blatant fouls.
Aside from characters and story lines, another big plus for me was the brightness of this film. Movies that are filmed dark are always a struggle for me to see everything on screen. DoFP was a pretty dark film when it came to the present/future of the X-Men timeline with the shapeshifting Sentinels. With that said, I enjoyed the contrast between the DoFP darkness and the glow of Blinks jumps, or the glow of Iceman met with the fire. DoFP was filmed dark and almost depressing, with many closed in scenes which all brought about the feeling of dread and worry. Apocalypse, however, is a much brighter film with open spaces and outside shots bringing about a lighter feel of promise and opportunity.
A bonus positive is the Wolverine Cameo. He does make a brief appearance in Apocalypse. There are some minor continuity problems that this creates, but without spoiling anything I will say that it also allows a connection as to why later Logan is so drawn to Jean Grey. It also makes a connection to the previous film that left off with Stryker fishing him out of the water and in later timeline movies why his memory is so scattered.
A final favorite for me, closer to the end we see the new “X-Men” as they begin training. FINALLY a costume designer takes a look at the most iconic costumes of our heroes and does something right by them. I was excited the most to see Cyclops finally looking like Cyclops.
When looking at a film for review, I often try to connect the spiritual aspects and messages for the tweet. One that has any Biblical knowledge can’t help but notice the multiple spiritual references throughout the film. One has to ask, “Is there an underlined meaning or connection to all of them?” I’m not sure there is. At least not one that I have been able to connect yet. (Maybe that will change at my second viewing this week.).
Case-in-point: Apocalypse states names of many false gods that he has gone by. Magneto yells at God questioning his circumstance. Nightcrawler constantly prays and crosses himself. A military leader says on the phone, “Our prayers have been answered.” Even the Four Horsemen from Revelation 6 is referenced.
An underlining theme that kept playing in my mind was the “ruler of this world” and the Christian soldiers that are here battling him. Satan has striven to destroy the world and the good in it since his beginning. He’ll claim to be a god and even strive to get Jesus (God the Son) to bow down to him. In the movie, Apocalypse has one goal; to destroy the world in order to create something he can rule. He can only do this by using others to have the power to tear the world apart. Satan uses that same approach in the world: he convinces people that he has ways to get people power and entices man with false promises.
The counter to Apocalypse is Professor Xavier. He stands against Apocalypse by giving a way out. He tells the Horsemen that there is a better way. He has the power to control any and all people with his mind and to make them do as he desires. Yet, he allows choice. Mystique uses the same message given from the professor and then shares it with Magneto. Our Heavenly Father does the exact same thing: he allows choice. God can control us if he wishes. He can destroy the world if he desires. However, God simply tells of a better way and gives us choice.
For God, we are his soldiers. Satan will only be overthrown in this world when Christians stand for truth, fight the lies and deception, and stand strong in the greatest of adversities.
Another aspect, which plays out in many of the X-films, focuses on Magneto. He once again brings about the internal battle that we all suffer; easy or hard road. We see Magneto living a good life, which is difficult for him, to then once again give in to the easy road. Through heartache he once again does what is easy for him; taking lives. The easy road is often the road that leads to our destruction, though; one sin after another.
Man often finds himself covered in mountains of sin and feels no hope in being able to escape it. There’s always an escape, though… Man makes a choice to allow God to forgive him. Magneto, as before, brings that turmoil to the screen. I think it’s why so many of us connect to him as a character. He’s struggles with his choices of right and wrong just as many of us do.
This was a great film. I enjoyed the vision of it, the story line, and the mutants being portrayed as more grounded characters. On a scale of 5, I have to give it a 4.5, ranking right in the top 3 of my favorite X-films.
One connection made by Singer: as the professor and Magneto wrap up their conversation in the end of this film, a brief question and answer session happens in regards as to what Charles would do if someone came into his house to harm his children. Charles replies something like, “I feel sorry for anyone that comes into my house”. It took me until about 2:30 in the morning to finally remember what that’s drawing from. In the end of X-Men (2000) when Magneto is visited by Charles as he sits in a plastic prison, a very similar conversation transpires. An obvious nod to where all of these movies first began. A nice tie in connection, the first of many to what is rumored to be the “last”.