I got to watch the lastest instalment of the X-men franchise this past weekend at The Junction (because my procrastination cost me a chance to watch it at The Imax downtown). I must be picking the right times for watching my movies, because the 'free seating' doesn't seem to be limiting my chances of getting great seating.
This chapter starts off with an introduction to Apocalypse (aka En Sabah Nur) during his transferrence/renewal ritual in Ancient Egypt. Suffice it to say, things don't go as planned, so he ends up in stasis until his eventual awakening in the '80s.
Before that, however, we're treated to the roamings of Mystique (going more by 'Raven' in this outing) as a vigilante who helps free and resettle persecuted mutants (enter Nightcrawler and Angel). We also find Magneto living a new normal life in Poland, with his wife and daughter. Professor X finally has the school up and running, and Hank McCoy (Beast) is a fellow teacher. Among his students, Jean Grey, Jubilee, and soon a troubled Scott Summers, brought in by his brother, Havok.
Moira MacTaggert unwittingly wakes Apocalypse, and from there all hell breaks loose!
In Days of Future Past type fashion, this movie has a very serious tone. Apocalypse is that archetypical villain who actually wants to see the world burn (cleansed). So he assembles his mythical team of 4 Horseman - Magneto, Storm, Psylocke & Archangel - and sets upon rebuilding the world as per his vision. Like Sebastian Shaw before him, he willingly kill humans with reckless abandon; but he spares most mutants his wrath, even those with whom he finds himself in direct conflict.
Sophie Turner has a very telling line in this movie (albeit it in reference to Star Wars):
"...we all know the third movie's the worst!"This isn't a bad quality movie, by any means. Magneto has a very deep story arc - even when he does right he can't seem to catch a break. He is an actual villain you can't hate for being a villain...it's as if God means for him to be a villain. I also loved Sophie Turner as Jean Grey. Not only is she feared by humans, but she's also a loner cast aside by her fellow schoolmates at Mutant school. I won't spoil it for you, but, when she's eventually let loose, no one will doubt her full power (a saga that they seem certain to explore in the not so distant future).
Beast, in his Incredible Hulk type incarnation is fine. They definitely improved on that makeup since "First Class". The re-introduced Night Crawler is also a joy. He's portrayed more in Alan Cumming's self aware (comedic) light tone, but as he grows I'd love to see him assume that unstoppable ferocity that we saw at the start of X-Men II.
It is sad, though, that they've decided to buoy this franchise on Jennifer Lawrence's Mystique. She is mostly 'Raven', this time around; justifiably, she's steering clear of the hero worship that arose from the events of DoFP, but casting Mystique in this new light just seems strange. I hope they're preparing her for a true turn of villainy in the next instalment. Sure, people complained about previous outings' Wolverine-centric focus, but I think that was one of Brian Singer's wiser decisions. You could blink-and-miss-it, but Hugh Jackman's cameo (longer than his First Class appearance) is magnificent. You've probably seen iterations of this Weapon X rampage scene in many forms of media, but this one is stunning. It's as close to "Berserker Rage" as they've ever let Wolverine descend. If they eventually plan for an "Old Man Logan" movie, this is the kind of Wolverine we need.
I found nothing wrong with the pacing of this movie, because the exposition benefits from the early layering of the story. I think the small roster of mutant characters facing off against Apocalypse - a la X-men III - is a bit disappointing because it leaves you feeling like there's no way in hell that the X-men should be able to win this fight. (Apocalypse's benevolence regarding mutants is certainly stretched to the maximum). Granted, this time around they brought Quiksilver along. This time they upped the ante with his speed, letting him moonwalk and clown around as he literally salvages the X-men. Seemed silly to leave him out of heroics last time, this time they needed him.
I'm interested to see how this new team evolves into the heroes that we know. McAvoy and Fassbender truly are great emotional anchors for this franchise. Wolverine still has a lot to offer this series. However, I'd love to see more levity returned to this series. Sure, it's hard out there for a mutant, but it doesn't mean you can't have fun while you're at it.
I'd give this movie a B+ (technically, this is already a "B" movie), and would recommend you give it a viewing. I'm going to watch it again today with my bro; let's see if any magic's waiting to be discovered on the second viewing.
Have a great weekend and God Bless.