X-Men: Age of Mediocrity
X-Men: Apocalypse” is the latest movie from Bryan Singer in the reboot of the “X-Men” franchise that started with “X-Men: First Class.” If you’re looking for a comic book canon movie, don’t go and see this; it will disappoint. (Which is possibly the reason for some poor early reviews). However, it wasn’t an awful movie. The story itself isn’t well paced. It starts grabbing your attention but then plods along. It uses too much time introducing the new characters and welcoming back the old and not enough time utilizing those characters or building relationships with them and the audience. Even though I am very familiar with Scott Summers, Jean Grey, Nightcrawler, Storm, and Psylocke, I felt like anyone that wasn’t wouldn’t have enough of a connection to any of them to care about what happened to them.
The acting, however, was nothing short of exemplary. The only ones that I can’t fairly critique are the ones that I wanted to see more of because they were grossly underutilized. Any of you who have watched Olivia Munn on “The Newsroom” or “The Daily Show” know what she is capable of. Instead, she had maybe five lines of dialogue in the whole movie. In fact, most of the new cast was sidelined along with Munn for the established stars in the movie: Jennifer Lawrence and Michael Fassbender. Alexandra Shipp (Storm) and Lana Condor (Jubilee) were promoted as examples of diverse casting but weren’t heavily featured in the film. The only new cast members that had significant screen time and dialogue were Sophie Turner (of “Game of Thrones” fame) and Tye Sheridan. While Cyclops and Jean Grey are very big characters in the X-Men universe, other superhero movies have had a large cast of heroes and managed to give them all roles that didn’t feel like they were just window dressing. So, while I was happy to see a young diverse cast who could act really well, I would have loved to see them better used in the story (a story about the X-Men rather than another Magneto/Mystique-centric story).
Where I really have to applaud “X-Men: Apocalypse” is in its inclusivity. Where it would have been easy to whitewash both Psylocke and Jubilee, they got actresses that fit. Jubilee (who in the comics is the daughter of Chinese immigrants) and Psylocke (who has a really complicated backstory but her most popular appearance was that of a Japanese ninja) were both portrayed by women of Asian ethnicity. Even Apocalypse, while not played by an Egyptian, was played by Oscar Isaac (another person of color). Where it loses marks, however, is in the film’s constant use of some of the worst and oldest tropes, including fridging, which really needs to stop.
Even in awesomeness, the movie falls a little short. The action sequences are not well paced; they are either too long or too short or the CGI actually takes you out of immersion in the scene. The morality play that you see in so many superhero movies—the one that drives the plot and makes the action mean something—is all but absent from “Apocalypse,” making the mass destruction pointless.
While “X-Men: Apocalypse” does its job of entertaining you for 2 1/2 hours, that is all it really does. It doesn’t ask the moral or social questions that have been such an important part of the “X-Men” franchise. It doesn’t give you reasons to feel anything for the characters, and it lacks anything to hold your attention in anticipation of the next X-Men movie that is bound to be in the pipeline for release in 2018. What it did do though is showcase (barely) some great young and diverse talent in Hollywood who will hopefully go on to have great careers.