Wednesday, 25 May 2016
REVIEW: X-MEN: APOCALYPSE
144 Minutes. Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Oscar Isaac, Rose Byrne, Olivia Munn, Nicholas Hoult, Evan Peters, Lucas Till, Tye Sheridan, Sophie Turner, Alexandra Shipp, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Ben Hardy, Lana Condor, Josh Helman & Hugh Jackman. Director: Bryan Singer.
Now class, here's how the mutants of the Marvel 'X-Men' franchise have shape-shifted through timeline after time until todays 'Apocalypse'. It really is a confusing case of plot strands and themes from the contradictory clock of the 'Days Of Future Past'. Get your red rope ready and we aren't talking liquorice, even if this movie is set in the Bacon 'Footloose' meets Marty McFly time of the vintage 80's animated homage. We really are going 'Back To The Future' without Kitty Pryde again. The last classic X film based on a comic just as timeless was always going to be a hard act to follow in the third stage. But look at all that came before it in this Academy of gifted sequels. After the original, outstanding 'X-Men' starring Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellen, the 'X2' sequel superbly surpassed that and any notion of a sophomore slump, dual director Bryan Singer became a filmaker of great praise. So much so that he was lured away by D.C. to make a criminally underrated 'Superman Returns' with the Reeve homaging Brandon Routh fly. This left his trilogy with Brett Ratner and 'The Last Stand' turned out to be a Bay spectacle on the Golden Gate Bridge that didn't really have the legs, or Dark Phoenix Saga wings despite the formidable Famke Janssen as Jean Grey. Then sliced and diced from those ashes rose the fun but fumbled 'Origins' of a 'Wolverine' solo outing that at least lead to a wondeful sequel as Hugh Jackman took Logans run to the Canadian's comic re-birthplace in Tokyo, Japan and Ryan Reynolds 'Deadpool' character that made for the only superhero movie this year that could even have the nice pair of smooth criminals to go to battle with 'Captain America's' 'Civil War' with Iron Man and almost the rest of the Avengers (sorry 'Batman v Superman'), breaking the fourth wall and the balls of all the mistakes made before. Singer also returned to his own 'First Class' origins to rewrite the songsheet, replacing Picard and Gandalf with McAvoy and Fassbender before bringing them all together for his peak 'Days Of Future Past' that now has lead to this 'Apocalypse' conclusion of the trilogy he should have always wanted. Confused?
We wouldn't blame you. Because this really is an Apocalypse. One that now in hindsight should have probably waited. Just a little bit. More 'Apocalypse Wow' in an Owen Wilson voice than a James Brown one this is messy but oh what a one it is. A comic carnage that is Burgundy classy...but nowhere near 'First Class'. This Clash of the Titans war of Gods and mutants is nothing 'Civil'. It's not even better than the 'Dawn Of Justice' but then again that critical crucified epic was cruelly underrated. As middling as that Justice League set-up and with the big hits from 'Deadpool' and 'Captain America' it's all on the 'Suicide Squad' and Steven Strange film now. It's not that this film is bad, but perhaps his hat tip to his own full trifecta's funny, Wade Wilson like meta diss to "third parts always being the worst", wrapped up in a 'Star Wars' Easter Egg as funny as Spidey's Empire strikes down Giant-Man, plays as much like an omen as it does a 'Last Stand' skeleton in the closet demon of futures past. Two franchise family trilogies. One breakthrough, brilliant movie, a superior sequel and then a final curtain that should have been called early. I guess the more things change the more they stay the same. There's a lot of amazing action and stunning set-pieces and even some story in this stakes raised epic that 'Stargate' starts itself in Egypt...but maybe they are raised a little too high. The bar isn't exactly cleared but dove into head first...when the finesse of Fosbury would have been preferred in this rushed race to the gold. This is by no means a flop...but it's far from the force it should have been in this war of the stars. It's time someone awoke the costume department. Because which crew member with 'Power Rangers' on his purple resume dressed Oscar Isaac? Because the Academy Award worthy actor won't be winning any Oscars for his name here thanks to his ridiculous get up. Coming off science fiction greats like 'Ex Machina' and some 'Star Wars' movie he piloted, going Rogue in this 'X-Men' cut the Pacino looking chameleon actor certainly looks different here. But at least his classic voiced villian dialogue delivery and always amazing acting saves his character and this comic adaptation from being completely mumified by sarcophagus costume and snowballing into Steve Rogers incased ice like a pyramid scheme gone Brendan Fraser sequel bad.
All you need to see is the Apocalypse mutant morphing ten times as big as Professor Xavier's Ant-Man looking "Charrrles" and lieing over him whilst saying "I'm still inside you Charles" to believe there's something dodgy going on here. James McAvoy really went bald for this? You can see how much he likes this on the films poster. At least he and Fassbender keep their acting game far from the spotty squares of checkers...but oh how we'd love to see one more game of chess...no matter how long its been. Their Malcolm X/Martin Luther King peace vs violent methods of protest where a definitive dualtity dynamic that now seems junior to everything else. Although Michael keeps Magneto's mettle strong thanks to some family ties that finally wrap up the Scarlett Witch rights crossover to Marvel Studios own enigmatic Elizabeth Olsen like 'Age Of Ultron' did her silver haired slick brother. And how about Evan Peters' rockier and cooler Quicksilver stealing the show yet again in a bullet time soundtrack sweeping splurge that throws the whole house at his 'D.O.F.P.' kitchen sink debut? He even speeds past the Academy of 'Hunger Games' franchise face Jennifer Lawrence's Mystique. Although Raven still flies. Even next to 'Game Of Thrones' star Sophie Turner, hotter than the sun starting her own Phoenix saga as Jean Grey. Headlining a list of newcomers including a big three of Ben Hardy's Angel taking new wing from Ben Foster, Alexandra Shipp's Storm being even truer to the comic forecast than Halle Berry's weather and an outstanding Olivia Munn as a wonder woman, neon whip magical Psychlocke. Concluding Apocalypse's Four Horseman charged by Magneto's war in the form of pestilence famine and death...some themes that could really be metaphors here. Still, the newcomers that really make the grade are two gifted youngsters come of age at just 19 years old each. Teenagers still not in their twenties, the terrific Tye Sheridan famous for 'The Tree Of Life' and 'Mud' and kinetic Kodi Smit-Mcphee of 'The Road' and 'Slow West' (partnering up with Michael Fassbender) are electric, morphing scene stealers as the iconic Cyclops and Nightcrawler respectively. Highlighting a new class of freshmen (including even the Jubilee of Lana Condor for all you animated series aficinados) with their lockers next to the seniors like the brotherhood of Lucas Till wreaking real Havok and Nicholas Hoult unleashing some Beast for a fur exchange in this act balanced better than you'd review reading think. Even an amnesiac Rose Byrne is back with the C.I.A. (did you forget?), like Josh Helman's striking, commanding character is back with the military. And of course there's one cameo that will leave all you bubs bubbling even if it has been spoiled by too much trailer and internet reveal. And we aint talking about Stan Lee although he has his most touching, trademark appearance yet. Still..if you don't know what we mean it's classic...we can't tell you about it, but it does rhyme with 'Polverine'! There's even an even bigger Easter Blob for all you egg head geeks but why is Channing Tatum's Gambit not on deck again? Not even a face card, Joker like hint of a reveal. I guess he's been cut again. Just like great new characters like Blink who are missing. Just another minor problem too many that stacks up to 'Apocalypse' being a major dissapointment that an epic like this was always going to be if it wasn't the best blockbuster of the year. But next to 'Civil War' how could anything else be? A good cast at least keeps this broken leg together. But the bones of this should have been made with adamantium. Apocalypse Ow! TIM DAVID HARVEY.