Tuesday, May 31, 2016

X-Men: Apocalypse


Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Oscar Isaac, Nicholas Hoult, Rose Byrne

Rated PG-13 for Sequences of Violence, Action and Destruction, Brief Strong Language and Some Suggestive Images

The appeal of the X-Men is easy to figure out.  There are so many of them and their powers are so creative that you can't help but wonder what powers you'd like to have and what you'd do with them.  Action movies have always been, to an extent, a wish-fulfillment fantasy, and none more so than superhero movies.  And there's no better franchise that stirs that part of the mind than the X-Men.  Sadly, superhero fatigue has set in, and this new installment, despite some impressive special effects, can't manage to overcome it.

After the events in "X-Men: Days of Future Past," Eric Lensherr aka Magneto (Fassbender) has been in hiding.  He's married with a young daughter and doing his best to make sure that his past stays behind him.  However, a new mutant has arisen.  Or rather, a very old one.  En Sabah Nur aka Apocalypse (Isaac) was the very first mutant.  Able to adopt the mutant powers of others, he was worshipped as a god in Ancient Egypt, until he was betrayed and left in eternal sleep.  Now, he's been awakened, and he intends to restart civilization...by destroying it first.

These days, action movies are continually upping the ante.  More supers, more villains, more special effects.  But the effect has worn off.  Who cares anymore?  We know they're going to win in the end, and while the is a momentary joy in seeing new mutants, it's fleeting and not worth spending money on or sitting through the too long 2.5 hours.

I enjoy good special effects as much as the next guy, but here, they're overkill.  Lots of money was clearly thrown into this movie, but I didn't care.  There's no suspense or excitement.  I didn't care about the characters, and the CGI is so over-the-top that it quickly becomes garish.  You don't need a lot of CGI if you know how to stage the action correctly.  "Mad Max: Fury Road" proved that.  It cost less, but because of how George Miller filmed it, it was a great shot of adrenaline.  Bryan Singer, like every Marvel movie, thinks that the key to making something exciting is to throw as much money at it as possible.  As the director of "The Usual Suspects" (budgeted at $6 million), he should know better than anyone that that's not the case.

The actors are fine, and that's mainly because unlike "Civil War," they're given halfway decent dialogue and they're putting in the effort.  James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, and everyone else earns their paychecks, but that's all.  Of the cast, there are two disappointments: Oscar Isaac and Tye Sheridan.  Isaac's star has been on the rise, especially becoming a fan favorite in "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."  But as Apocalypse, he's not villainous enough.  Considering that he's played an effective villain before ("Robin Hood" is an example), I fault the writing.  Tye Sheridan, on the other hand, is woefully miscast.  The young actor has been good before in some indie films like "Joe" and "The Tree of Life," and he also had the lead in last year's criminally underrated "Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse," but as the cocky Scott Summers aka Cyclops, it's a terrible fit.  The actor rarely convinces.  His co-star from the latter film, Logan Miller (who played the sex-crazed Carter), would have been a better choice.

Ultimately, I could say just about the same thing about "X-Men: Apocalypse" as "Captain America: Civil War:" it can't overcome superhero fatigue.

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