Thursday, July 14, 2016

X-Men: Apocalypse (2016) Through a Kid’s Eyes

My daughter and I are in full agreement at not understanding why viewers are having a problem with this outing.

It has too many characters? 


Have you ever seen an X-men comic book?

“Too Many Characters” is their mission statement.  There are always mutants running all over the place. Background, Foreground, Underground…doesn’t matter.  They end up becoming more like the setting than characters anyway.  Don’t worry about them. Focus on the principals and enjoy the show.

The X-Franchise is the longest running of the comic book film groups.  By making each movie a period piece  (starting with First Class) has become a way for the visuals and tone of the stories to be set apart from other super hero outings.  Yes, the characters haven’t aged even though we’ve seen them in the Sixties, Seventies and now the Eighties.

Do you know why?

They’re comic book characters. 

Not aging as the world changes around them is what they do.  By doing it on screen, the creative minds behind the films can more accurately reference fashions and settings that showed up in the original comic book adventures the films are interpretations of.

The principals have moved on from being the new kids to owning the roles.

Both Raven and Charles have passed through the “reluctant” part of “reluctant leader” and are now taking point. Hank’s scientist and Beastly sides both come to the fore when needed. 

Michael Fassbender gets a special mention here.  For three reasons:

1) He and McAvoy give a better demonstration of “the dark side is quicker and easier, but with more focus and will the light side is more powerful” than we got in any Star Wars film.

2) He makes the dichotomies of Magneto as created in the comics completely believable.  Erik is -at the same time- Charles’s best friend, and Professor X’s arch enemy.  He is at once a mass murderer, and the one of the only ones Charles would trust with the care of his school.

3) He has inherited, from Hugh Jackman, the ability to use profanity and get a laugh instead of an angered response from my daughter. This was especially jarring in the first X-movie we’ve seen in a while that wasn’t an extended cut.  Magneto’s “F Word” usage was the only swear in the film.  I know it was, my daughter counts them.

Speaking of Hugh…

We’ve seen Wolverine unleashed before, but we have never seen uncontrolled, completely feral Wolverine for an extended period like this before.  


It gives me a lot of hope for Mr. Jackman’s last ride in his final Wolverine sequel.

Quicksilver is back and once again provides the best visual example of a speedster on any size screen.  They also used his abilities practically, and faced him with an opponent that could defeat him in a manner other than “the fast guy forgot he had powers again.”

Apocalypse was a world threatening villain, with the effects and portrayal to back it up.  Considering the same studio screwed up Galactus so badly, it was a nice surprise.

The newest of the mutants were welcome additions.

It was great to see Scott and Jean being set up as the Alpha couple of the group.  Before he was forced into the role of “less cool vertex of the X-men love triangle,” and all of the subsequent character shenanigans that followed, he was the competent and commanding field leader of the first two teams of X-men.

Seeing a Jean Grey in control of her untapped potential, instead of following the Marvel standard of “poor girl who can’t control her incredible super powers” was a fantastic change of pace for this father of a daughter.

They made Nightcrawler more fun while still preserving the faith aspect of the character!

The three “not Magneto” horsemen were visually interesting, but not too developed.
(Insert your own gutter minded Olivia Munn jokes here, I’m better than that.)

Amazingly the “too many characters” complainers were also the “not enough exposition for each character” complainers.  Critics like seven hour movies, I guess.

There’s no problem with them being minimally featured, since it wasn’t their story. They were there to have cool powers, look awesome, be obstacles to the main characters, and set up possibilities for the future. 

Mission accomplished.

The one lack of development that upset my daughter was having Jubilee show up as what appeared to be a key role as one of the students welcoming Jean and Scott…

And then doing nothing. 

That marks the fourth appearance of the character in these movies, played by the third actor, always wearing her immediately recognizable outfit…

And then doing nothing.

Her fond memories of our DVD viewing the Nineties cartoon are affecting my daughter’s film viewing again.

Looks like we’ll be waiting for the extended edition release of this one too!


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