Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Movie Impressions: X-Men Apocalypse

Posted by Rampant Coyote on June 15, 2016

XMenAWhen I really started getting into comics – as in actively following titles monthly – it was the 1980s. Two of my favorites, The Uncanny X-Men and The New Mutants, were written by comics legend Chris Claremont. At the time I got into the X-Men, they primarily consisted of Cyclops (Scott Summers), Colossus (Peter Rasputin), Rogue, Nightcrawler (Kurt Wagner), Storm (Ororo Munroe), Wolverine (Logan), and Sprite (Kitty Pryde). Jean Grey’s recent death cast a long shadow over them all. And then there were some X-Men Alumni making periodic temporary reappearances – Angel, Iceman, and Beast.

Claremont was one of the writers who added a great deal of maturity to the stories during his tenure. While the stories were still largely dominated by overpowered men, monsters, and others causing great damage to the scenery and each other through wild, brightly-drawn powers, Claremont made the stories ultimately about people. Stuff the audience cared about in their own lives: relationships, self-doubt, fitting in, dealing with loss, ethical quandaries, and so forth.

While X-Men Apocalypse didn’t quite capture the the X-Men character and feel exactly as the Claremont-era comics, it did seem to at least be taking Claremont’s lead.  Almost (in my mind) to a fault: The main bad guy was really more of a force of nature with very little personality, and felt more like a catalyst for everyone else to pick a side, based on their own personalities and desires. Like Captain America: Civil War, it pits former and future allies against each other in a super-powered Battle Royale.

Compared to Civil War, it pales. But then, Civil War is one of the best superhero films ever (but one that depends on many previous films to have such a rewarding payoff), so that’s not a very damning comment. I think X-Men Apocalypse suffers a bit from having too many characters, as happens way too often in superhero movies. X-Men starts out by being an ensemble story, but by the time we’re done we’re dealing with something like a dozen significant characters. As much as I would have liked to see all of my 1980s era X-Men introduced, there was no room. So, no Colossus, no Kitty Pryde, no Rogue. But that was okay. There wasn’t enough screen time for most of the characters as it was, but for the most part, the film focuses on Magneto (Erik Lensher), Charles Xavier, Mystique (Raven Darkholme), and Cyclops (Scott Summers). And the bad guy, Apocalypse, but again, he’s kind of an event as much as a character.

In my mind, the real villain – and focus – in this film is Erik Lensher… Magneto. Without giving away any details, the audience can understand exactly why Xavier’s principles ring pretty hollow in Magneto’s ears. It’s also fun seeing Mystique thrust into the role of a heroine, and even a leader. Unfortunately, Jean Grey comes off as mostly an angsty, troubled brat with a lot of emoting, and her critical role in the climax felt a bit forced. There just wasn’t enough camera time for her to enjoy a believable character arc, or to see what she was really fighting against.

So while that’s more than mere nitpicking, we still came out of the film really impressed. It’s only because of the quality of the comic-adapted movies lately where this one comes out as a middle-of-the-road offering. IMO, it stands pretty even with X-Men: First Class, but isn’t quite of the caliber of X-Men: Days of Future Past. For superhero fans, it’s definitely worth watching.



Filed Under: Impressions, Movies - Comments: Comments are off for this article

Comments are closed.