X-Men: Apocalypse is mostly a mess, except for:
- Any moment with James McAvoy and/or Michael Fassbender, who actually exhibit believable emotion…pretty much with their eyes alone. Like, come on, McAvoy, marry me. When he’s reunited with Moira in her CIA office? Beautiful. I think I finally get why Atonement worked so well as a movie (it’s my favorite book).
- Quicksilver. Sure, they pulled the exact same stunts as the last film, but fuck it, it works. The scene with the school blowing up and him saving everyone casually? Delightful. Maybe because it feels so much like self-parodic absurdity. I can dig that.
- Oscar Isaac/Apocalypse’s perfect caricature of a total misunderstanding of Nietzschean philosophy (with Magneto typically representing it). Isaac’s performance is…well, it’s stupid. But a completely acceptable stupid for this sucker. I’ll take any nod to philosophy in a piece of popular culture, especially in hyperbolic, basically cartoonish form. He’s just so…serious. (Where was Heath Ledger’s Joker?) Translation: sincere. Kudos to Isaac for making it work. (I heard on “How Did This Get Made?” that Eddie Redmayne did the same thing in Jupiter Ascending. Not that this film is as awful as that, but that each actor committed to the ludicrous writing of his character.)
- That entire opening (video game?) sequence. Was it trying to be The Fifth Element, which isn’t even a good enough film to reference, let alone aim for?
- The gratuitous globetrotting.
- Jennifer Lawrence mails. it. in. (The Passengers trailer showcased similar ennui, which is frustrating. She’s proven her acting chops plenty of times. Is she just sick of this shit?)
- The epically slow recruitment of the new four horseman.
- The unbelievably, confusing violence when Weapon X is unleashed. I mean, it makes sense. Wolverine is a tortured beast who should act exactly that way, but it goes on for way too long. And then ends with an extended look at Hugh Jackman’s sexiness before Wolverine scampers off comedically into the surrounding snowy woods. I’m a Wolverine fanboy, and I have to wonder, yet again: why can’t they get this character right?
- Cyclops’ origin story. Havoc’s disposability.
- Angel. Jubilee. Psylocke.
- All the shots of muggles. Non-mutants. Whatever the fuck they’re called in this world. Humans?
- The fact that I didn’t realize that was Storm the entire time. (Okay, this one’s on me.)
Alright, enough. I didn’t come here to shit on the movie. I ultimately enjoyed it well enough. What I wanted to write about was a scene at the end that was actually emotionally powerful.
It’s with my man McAvoy. His character, Professor X, has just been nearly turned over to Apocalypse – twice – and he wakes up to see his lost love (lost as in her took her memories of their relationship) Moira staring down at him, relieved that he survived. He decides to give her back the memories he took. It’s a really lovely moment, and I was dutifully moved (thanks, ever-manipulate film score). And then the film-makers, for some goddamn reason, decide to kill all that emotion by having Nightcrawler pop up like a Scooby Doo character, all lost and shit. Comic relief at the peak of emotional catharsis? Fuck y’all.
Enough of this irony schtick. We’re past that age. Just let sincerity be sincere. Commit, you bastards. I don’t need a heavy moment to be lightened by some goofy slapstick. Let me live in that beautiful tension and feel real release. Not a dumb laugh. Or at least make sure it’s funny if you’re gonna go that route. What, can audiences not handle genuine sentiment (insofar as the representation of sentiment can be genuine)? Why are we still defusing it like it’s a bomb? Let it explode!
Alas, we hollow men are left not with a bang but a whimper. We really should make way for mutants. Maybe their art will have an evolved sense of emotional resonance.