Monday, May 30, 2016

X-Men Apocalypse is Exciting and Fun

    I like X-Men Apocalypse. It's an exciting movie with an entertaining plot, great action scenes and it explores several interesting mutant characters.  It's a bit of a reboot from its previous existence in 20th Century Fox studios.  But it follows the previous X-Men, who started in the 1960s with X-Men:  First Class and then in the 1970s with Days of Future Past, into the 1980s.  We are re-introduced to younger versions of the X-Men including Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Nightcrawler and holdovers such as Mystique, Beast and Quicksilver plus about five other characters I have forgotten. Plenty of interesting mutants for fans who are gluttons for superheros. 

    The Quicksilver character was brilliantly played by Aaron Evans.  The young superheroes should act like punks sometimes, and he does that.  He's talented, funny and definitely has his own personality.  One thing that bothers me, though, is how Quicksilver can be a young guy in the 1970s and 1980's, and yet is also a young guy in the Avengers movie which takes place in about 2016.  These movies are not helped by taking such giant liberties with the characters.  

Quicksilver is a surprising hit of the movie, upstaging some of his more well-known friends.  

       Similarly, Nightcrawler (Cody Smit-McPhee) is a very interesting character with the ability to teleport himself and his friends.  His flaws are that he is very under-confident and overly devout in his religion, which leads to some nice comic moments. In short, Nightcrawler rocks.    

     Magneto, played by Michael Fassbender, remains a fascinating character whose life is marred by evil tragedies.  I think the previous director wanted him to be like James Bond.  Meanwhile, Xavier is not nearly as inspirational, played kind of flatly by James McAvoy.   Magneto is basically a good character but one who is pulled by tragedy to embrace evil.  Fassbender is a very good actor, but we have seen this theme only about six other times in the X-Men movies and it is getting to be stale.  Time to move on.  To some extent this is accomplished by having a new bad guy for this movie.

    The bad guy is named Apocalypse, and he is really really bad. He does a decent Hannibal Lecter voice in addition to having all sorts of cool powers.  We learn that he had been active in ancient Egypt, but like the Mummy was entombed for a few thousand years, and then awakens to menace the world again. Apocalypse believes he is the answer to humanity's misplaced values (for example, their tendency to create nuclear weapons--tsk, tsk--instead of worshipping his godlike self).  But at his core, Apocalypse is kind of a horse's ass.  His ability to attract other mutants to support him perhaps could have been better developed, since he is really so creepy that we can scarcely imagine that a misguided good guy is actually going to work for him.  

Can you imagine an ancient godlike Pharaoh coming back to life to oppress the world?  Uh, maybe so.

Apocalypse gets great helpers, like Magneto and Psylocke (Olivia Munn).   Psylocke is into electrified whips and chains and is just mean.  

    Wolverine is in the movie, just so that they could add Hugh Jackman in the cast.   He doesn't add much to the plot.  He is just thrown in and then leaves, sort of like Stan Lee's cameo but with more violence.   This was a major blemish on the movie.  

     The plot is just average with too much reliance on stale themes, but good acting and directing along with exciting action sequences lead to a very enjoyable film.   


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