X-Men Apocalypse and Playing the Genre Straight
Last week, X-Men: Apocalypse premiered to US audiences with a box-office taking of $79.8M, bringing its total domestic + international gross up to $279M by the writing of this review. It’s not a great number, but the numbers were lackluster overall this Memorial Day weekend, so it wasn’t just Apocalypse.
Either way, box office numbers are far from the most definitive way to judge a movie’s worth. Sure, people went to see it — but did they like it? Critics didn’t seem to, giving it a 48% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 52 on metacritic. IMDB users rated it a little more favorably, averaging a 7.5 out of 10, and fan reactions on social media are divided — though not nearly as divided as reactions to DC’s recent Batman v Superman, which got 27%/44/7.1 respectively.
The thing about Apocalypse is that it’s a movie that, when asking the superhero genre’s question of the year — “Can we trust our heroes to protect us?” — it answers with an unambiguous “Yes.”
This is the first superhero movie this year to ask that question and answer it unambiguously and without any qualifiers. Can we trust mutants to protect us from other mutants?
Of course we can. The X-Men will save us.
Frankly, after the dark but deliciously topical Batman v Superman and the slightly disjointed and definitely ambiguous Captain America: Civil War, the simplicity itself is a welcome breather.
I think a lot of us, as fans of the genre, forget that as a whole, these stories were, first and foremost, written for kids. Up until very recently, comic books were supposed to be a children’s pastime, and people who kept up the hobby into adulthood were looked at with some social mockery if they weren’t the ones telling the stories.
Since the advent of the ‘graphic novel’ and pursuing of adult audiences, comic book stories have slipped more toward the ambiguities of adulthood, and the movies have too — filmmakers take the popular stories and make them, for the most part, into movies that seek out the ambiguities in them.
Not so in X-Men: Apocalypse, which uses the first volume of X-Factor as source material, mixing it liberally with the extant canon of the X-Men Cinematic Universe. Everything is nice and straightforward — no Lex Luthor manipulating things behind the scenes, no heroes fighting heroes instead of sitting down to talk — and I think that, in fact, is the movie’s biggest strength.
In forgoing the ever popular ambiguity of the graphic novel era, X-Men: Apocalypse tells a quite Silver Age story, where the X-Men are fighting evil mutants and saving the ones who aren’t in fact as evil as they thought.
Like Batman v Superman, it’s a story about redemption. Unlike BVS, nobody has to die for that redemption to take place except the bad guy.
I like that. As much as I love the XMCU’s commitment to the mutants-are-an-oppressed-group concept, seeing a superhero story that doesn’t try to deconstruct or reconstruct or subvert anything feels good.
The good guys are the good guys, and the bad guys are the bad guys, and it’s very easy to tell who’s who.
I think we need that, in the grand scheme of superhero movies, a little more often than we’ll admit to, and certainly more often than we get it.
Besides the film’s thematic elements, it was visually quite arresting, particularly in the Quicksilver sequence and the battle in Cairo. Jean Grey’s moment of triumph is also particularly stunning, and I look forward to what they do with her in later films.
All the actors are more than adequately doing their jobs, but standout performances by Sophie Turner as Jean and Evan Peters as Quicksilver have to be recognized. Sophie brings a quiet, uncertain gravitas to Jean that is not unlike her portrayal of Sansa Stark — a quality that seems fitting for Jean, but one that is rarely ascribed her. Quicksilver, against all odds, has significant emotional beats that make me hope that more of his story gets told in future movies.
Characters who got shortchanged included Olivia Munn’s stunning Psylocke and of course, as has been discussed a great many times already, Lana Condor’s excellent rendition of Jubilee.
The film’s biggest flaw was its pacing, giving a lot of time to Erik’s angst that could have been better used elsewhere, and having a Wolverine cameo that lasts for just a touch too long. Aside from that, everything holds together very nicely.
Overall, I highly recommend X-Men: Apocalypse to anyone who is a little tired of moral ambiguity in their superhero movies. It’s fun, it’s entertaining, and for once, you’ll know who to root for.https://www.myfantasysportstalk.com/x-men-apocalypse-and-playing-the-genre-straight/https://i0.wp.com/www.myfantasysportstalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/a-22.jpg?fit=1024%2C576&ssl=1https://i0.wp.com/www.myfantasysportstalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/a-22.jpg?resize=150%2C150&ssl=1EntertainmentMoviesRecent PostsX-Men,x-men: apocalypseLast week, X-Men: Apocalypse premiered to US audiences with a box-office taking of $79.8M, bringing its total domestic + international gross up to $279M by the writing of this review. It’s not a great number, but the numbers were lackluster overall this Memorial Day weekend, so it wasn’t just Apocalypse. Either...Murphy LeighMurphy Leighmleighmedia@gmail.comContributorMyFantasySportsTalk