X-Men: Apocalypse

May 29, 2016 at 7:22 pm | Posted in 2016 | Leave a comment
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“Everyone knows that the third movie is always the worst,” says Jean Grey (Sophie Turner from “Game of Thrones” fame) to her friends after they have just seen “Return of the Jedi.” It would be a funnier inside joke if it weren’t so bitterly true of this, the 3rd in the new incarnation of X-Men films. If there is any silver lining to having sat through 2 1/2 hours of a mind-numbingly self-important B-movie, it is that I can finally end my long streak (almost 15 months) of not hating a movie. When there are so very many things wrong with a film, it can be hard to know where to start or what to include. But, I think I have to start with what felt like the biggest sin of all: turning good actors into bad ones. Nobody can honestly question the skills of the likes of Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Oscar Isaac or Rose Byrne. Even lesser known actors like Evan Peters (“American Horror Story”), Tye Sheridan (“Mud”) or Kodi Smit-McPhee (“The Road”) have shown they know their craft. Yet, if there is a truism in Hollywood it is that you cannot always get a good performance out of a bad actor but you can always get a bad performance out of a good one. Melodramatic, emotionally-disingenuous dialogue and ham-fisted direction will result in moments like Fassbender’s painful, “is this what you want, God?” speech. Director Bryan Singer, who once was capable of the genius of “The Usual Suspects,” has shown a recent perverse glee at trading emotional honesty for the illusion of it. He doesn’t try to make simple, fun comic book escapism, like Marvel Studios does so well. Nor are his films dark, brooding and atmospheric the way the current DC films are. He seems happy to create films that think they are saying something important about life but are just dull, emotionless and self-important. This one plods along with a storyline that is not worth explaining and full of contradictions, both big and small. In an attempt to reboot the series, Singer and Fox Pictures decided not to simply recast and start over (as so many superhero films have done).  Rather, they decided to go with an altered timeline (a la the “Star Trek” franchise reboot). However, unlike JJ Abrams’s carefully constructed re-envisioning, this one has been an increasingly lazy attempt. Characters are reintroduced in radically different ways that could not have been created by the timeline reset as envisioned in the last movie. That said, the one positive here is that some of these reimagined characters (Cyclops, Jean Grey, Angel and, especially, Storm) are real improvements over past incarnations. This movie was both vapid and pretentious, impossibly convoluted and dreadfully dull. But, maybe… just maybe… it doesn’t deserve a ∅ because it introduces the characters that might make for some interesting films in the future. No, wait. I changed my mind. It does deserve a ∅.

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