Sunday, May 22, 2016

Movie Review: 'X-Men: Apocalypse' Is A Boring, Corny Affair

Director:Bryan Singer
Cast: James McAvoy , Michael Fassbender , Jennifer Lawrence , Oscar Isaac
A standout moment in Bryan Singer’s ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)’ had a young Quicksilver, played by Evan Peters, break into the Pentagon along with Professor X (James McAvoy) and Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) to help Magneto (Michael Fassbender) escape.


You had the three most powerful, loved characters of the X-Men franchise almost taken out by a bunch of police officers, until a speeding teenager intervened.   
The standout moment in the director’s latest film in the franchise, ‘Apocalypse’, also features Quicksilver, rampaging through Professor X’s school for mutant kids, saving them all from a massive explosion. The sequence is set to Eurythmic’s ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)’, released in 1983, the year this film is set against. The only other reference to the era has a young Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) getting out of a ‘Return Of The Jedi’ screening, and talking about how “third ones are always the worst” - a reference to ‘X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)’, which was a culmination of a trilogy Singer kickstarted in 2000. Singer didn’t even direct that film—it was Brett Ratner—and, in addition to being too obvious an attempt at an in-joke, the line seems as laboured as the antagonist of this venture.
XMAN
© YouTube
Now, Oscar Isaac is no lightweight actor, and must have seemed like a genius choice for the titular villain, Apocalypse. But under the veil of some awful make-up and strange VFX, Isaac looks more like a cross between Sadashiv Amrapurkar as Maharani in ‘Sadak’ and a Sith Lord from the Star Wars films. His back-story, about the first mutant to inhabit the earth ages ago—“Before even the Bible”, as a character in the film says—makes you wish for him to do the worst kind of things when he wakes up thousands of years later (due to a door being left open, no less), but some corny lines and excessive posturing never lets the antagonist become a fully fleshed-out character.
That problem could have easily been worked around, given the sheer number of characters and great actors working on this film to distract the audience with, but Simon Winberg’s script struggles to do justice to most of them.
Magneto plays second fiddle to Apocalypse—he’s part of his entourage, more or less—and his relationship with Professor X doesn’t seem to have progressed in the ten years since the events of Days Of Future Past. Here too, Magneto is on an avenging spree due to the death of loved ones, and here too Professor X tries to reach out to his good side. All of it seems derivative.
A fine actor like Jennifer Lawrence gets awful lines like “Let’s go to war.” Only Grey has some sort of a character arc, as a result of which her scenes create maximum effect.
The X-Men franchise never seemed as promising and sure-footed as in the hands of director Matthew Vaughn in ‘First Class (2011)’, a film that was riding on plot, humour and great acting. Vaughn brought zing and energy, before going on to make other cool films like ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’. Singer’s been attached to the franchise ever since the first X-Men film hit screens in 2000, and must have a deep attachment to the universe, but that could also be the reason why his films have begun to exude a sense of jadedness.
There are some fine moments, and the kind of action gargantuan budgets allow these days. But without an effective plot and soulful screenwriting, ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ never gets going.
Photo: © YouTube (Main Image)
 reviewed X-Men: Apocalypse on Friday, 20 May 2016


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