Review: X-Men: Apocalypse

I’ve never called out someone else’s review in one of my reviews before. It’s tacky and pointless, but when you’re the only quote on the movie box, and you’ve dubbed this movie, “One of the coolest superhero movies of the decade”; I have to wonder what fucking movie you watched. To quickly sum up what you can expect from this film: everything Bryan Singer has ever done in an X-Men movie. The buildup is the same, the pacing the same. The really bad attempts at comedy… sadly still there.

Here’s how it goes: He builds up the threat of the villain. He also uses this moment to explain why Apocalypse hasn’t been around. He’s been buried, and no sunlight has hit him. After the villain moment, we check in with our main characters that have all been scattered. Magneto has a family, Mystique is saving mutants, Charles is running a big ass school. Apocalypse is woken up by Moria who returns in this film; she lets the sun in and this finishes whatever stupid excuse of a transfer Apocalypse was doing.

xmenapocalypse_bd_ocard_spine_rgbLet’s pause and talk about his powers. He can transfer his mind to other bodies. In that body, he then takes that power and all powers transfer with him. Some real bullshit. Of the powers he has, healing factor, some shit with sand and either turning off or turning up a mutant’s powers. Though don’t focus on the “turning off” part because that only happens once and then he forgets he can do it. Wait, wait… at the end he makes fire. If it’s convenient to the story, he can do it.

We do another round of “who’s that character” as we meet the new/young versions of the old X-Men characters. Apparently, Cyclops is a risk taking dickhead now.

Magneto’s family gets killed because he saves a human’s life, this makes him go a bit crazy, and the world starts looking for him again. Interestingly enough, the even from Days of Future Past is brought up, but not show. I say that because Singer uses clips from First Class more than a couple of times towards the end.

Apocalypse lives, he finds Storm. She gets to talk for one of her two scenes. They somehow find Caliban who is nothing like the comic character. He’s also in a completely different country, but Storm knows about him somehow. They pick up Psylocke, who gets one of her two speaking appearances as well and head off to find Angel. Etc, etc., they get Magneto.

Stuff happens. Xavier is kidnapped. The main characters are all kidnapped, and we watch a long helicopter scene showing them going into Canada to connect the old X-Men movies and the Wolverine movies. Blah, blah, X-Men save Xavier and we tease the Phoenix yet again.

It should be pointed out that Magneto more than likely kills hundreds of thousands, if not more, of innocent people around the globe simultaneously. No one bats an eye and Xavier welcomes him with open arms. There’s even a news blurb saying he helped defeat the bad guy… even though the bad guy was just trying to get mind powers while Magneto destroyed the planet. The thing that annoys me is that since First Class everyone has had a hard-on for Fassbender and so now we have to try and redeem Magneto rather than just have him be a fucking villain. It’s sadly the same in the comics. Yes, he’s a cool character, but that doesn’t mean he gets to be protected when he does evil shit.

Aside from the fact that there’s no consequences to the film's actions, my biggest problem was all the terribly fitting dialogue that tied into removed scenes. “I want to go to the Mall.” And then we see them coming out of a movie theater having watched Return of the Jedi and making a meta-joke about how the third one always sucks. Way to make sure that happened Singer.

Slow clap for Bryan Singer.

There’s a ton of examples throughout the movie, but I’m just going to tell you one and co-credit this part to Patrick Larose as well since he was thinking the same thing. At the end, Storm walks up to Quicksilver and says, “So he’s your dad? You gonna tell him?” and when there’s a pause of “how did you fucking know that?” she adds, “Mystique told me.”


No, seriously what?


Why would anyone share such deep and personal information to someone they were fighting two fucking minutes ago!?! They shared a plane ride together, and now Storm is just like, “Hey fast dude, is that your dad? What do you think about all the people he killed? My friends included, even though we never saw them again, but they were ground zero when he made a big fucking pyramid.”

There’s no heart to this film. Xavier gives Moria her memories back, and she doesn’t slap him. If someone takes your fucking memories, you fucking slap them when you get them back because that is some evil fucked up shit.

That brings me to why Singer references First Class so much in this film. He piggybacks on a lot of the groundwork done in that film, and it’s all the emotion moments because he doesn’t know how to make those as a writer or director. There’s no heartfelt moments here. You don’t pity or feel for any of the characters. Even when the other mutants are calling Jean Grey a freak, you don’t care because he squashes it with dialogue from Cyclops about him feeling sorry for himself. Even Quicksilver debating about telling Magneto he’s his father is completely drained of emotion because Singer can’t bring out an emotion performance for Evans.

This film is in love with its destruction. It’s in love with the improved computer graphics. It’s in love with the big name stars attached to it. The problem is, it’s forgotten how to tell a compelling story and with all the other superhero movies out there, it’s not exactly breaking in new stars either. It’s unfortunately just a formula film from a director that was never that great at the formula and has taken sixteen years too perfect. Meanwhile, we’ve all moved on. No one wants to see your slightly better than X-Men movie, because, like that film, the graphics weren’t the problem.

Before I close out, I want to mention the special features which included a PSA about smoking. That is exactly as it sounds, not something related to the X-Men in the least bit. The gag reel wasn't funny. It was people having fun at work, but not funny. It's 8 minutes long and you can probably watch it on YouTube so just do that. As for the rest of the "X-tras" (get it?), they are worthless as all other home release extras so don't bother.

I only watched this because it was given to me for review. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have watched it. I wish I hadn’t. I wish I had turned it down because it didn’t even look like the X-Men up on the screen to me. It was just big name actors and bad cosplay with a lot of computer graphics laid out to look like a movie. It’s not, though. It’s just a series of events happening. It’s a franchise that’s more interested in teasing elements of one of Marvel’s deepest wells; then it is actually telling the stories that make that well worth going to. Hopefully, this shit will get another reboot, but if Singer is attached in any way, shape or form, I won’t even bother.

Not only is this not one of the coolest superhero movies of the decade, but it's also hands down the worst superhero movie I’ve seen since X-Men Days of Future Past.

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X-Men: Apocalypse Director (if you can call it directing): Bryan Singer Writers: Simon Kinberg, Bryan Singer, Michael Dougherty, Dan Harris Studio: Fox Run Time: 144 min


Review: Luke Cage E.02 - "Code of the Streets"

Like its predecessor, episode two of Luke Cage moves at a slower pace. The simmering tensions between characters come to a head by the end of it. In a lot of ways, this episode coupled with episode one serve as the origin of Luke Cage as a hero. And while dramatic, the big bang at the end of this episode isn't the most surprising thing about the series' second showing. No, the most surprising thing turns out to be a little piece of character insight in the form of what I call the, "Pull the trigger" speech. To find out what that is and what I think of the show after the first two episodes check out my review below. luke-cage-posterI'm going to start by mentioning a few actresses who got the snub in my last review, Simone Missick, and Alfre Woodard. Much like Luke Cage, I was unfamiliar with the characters as they were/are portrayed in the comics, I only know them as they are portrayed in these past two episodes. While both give excellent performances, Missick's performance, in my opinion, saves Detective Misty Stone's character. Considering that most of her lines and screen time in these past two episodes have been dedicated to flirting with Luke, delivering gritty detective banter, and showing up the neighborhood basketball players, she could have easily been the cheesiest character in the show. But Missick brings enough confidence and humor to the role to make the character believable. As for Woodard, she plays her character well (she plays Mariah Dillard, the cousin of Cottonmouth and councilwoman for the district). But her performance is hindered by her character's lack of an objective. With regard to her character's motivations, I'm not sure where to place her yet. She is definitely on the antagonist side of the spectrum, but after watching this episode, she seems as if she is trying to convince her cousin to get out of the game. I'm not sure if this concern for her family is genuine or self-preserving, but either way, this episode does a lot to round out her character.

As for the pacing, this episode is all about the big finish. I don't want to say too much because I'm trying to keep this review as spoiler-free as possible. I will say that the major plot point in this episode probably won't come as a shock to most of you, it didn't for me. Not to say that it was a bad choice, it was just predictable. But the real revelation, as I mentioned earlier, actually comes in the form of a speech given by Cage to a would-be assailant. The moment starts off a little rocky as if we're about to see a new patriotic side of Luke. But then it turns around and becomes the moment when shit gets real! And I really mean what I say when I use the word "real." In most shows or movies, we'll often see a character get angry, for some characters that's almost their entire identity, but what we don't see is the pain. The pain that lies at the root of the anger. I think this is one of the things that makes this interpretation of Luke Cage great. From the first moment he stepped onto the screen, we've known Luke has been in pain. In Jessica Jones we learn about the loss of his wife, in these first two episodes, we learn that he was wrongfully imprisoned. And while we as the audience have been witness to this via his body language and general temperament, we haven't, until this point, seen that pain take center stage. For a show to bring in that anger, that despair, and that weariness all in one speech is a bold and impressive choice.

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Luke Cage E.02 - "Code of the Streets" Director: Paul McGuigan


Review: Luke Cage E.01 - "Moment of Truth"

Last Friday I sat down with my girlfriend to watch Luke Cage, Netflix’s most recent series in the quadfecta that is The Defenders. Now, I wasn’t the biggest Luke Cage fan going into this series. Don’t get me wrong; I was excited, but that excitement came from watching the others series Netflix has put out. I liked Daredevil, and Jessica Jones was even better, so my enthusiasm was coming from a place of wanting to see another great TV show rather than excitement about seeing a character I loved on TV. Now I wasn’t completely ignorant; I had read a few Heroes for Hire, and I was impressed when he showed up in a crossover or two. He was more like a historical figure for me, the Jack Johnson of comics. Historical and important, but not really fleshed out. Now after watching the first two episodes of the series, I can say that this character has become real for me, more so that Jessica Jones or Matt Murdock. luke-cage-posterWe have to start with the acting. Mike Coulter is perfect for this role. He was great in Jessica Jones, but in this episode, he really shines. From the opening scene, you get a sense of who Luke Cage is and what he believes. Coulter puts on a great performance, switching between sensitive to tough guy on a dime. I also liked that he’s a bit tougher than he was in Jessica Jones, everyone once in a while in this episode you get the “Man, good thing this guy is on our side” kind of feeling.

The second actor I want to highlight is Mahershala Ali. He plays Cottonmouth and just like Coulter’s Cage, we get to see who he is and what he’s about from his very first appearance. He’s got the perfect kind of charisma, great villains have, an unapologetic hustler who is all about the business when it gets right down to it. What I also liked about Ali’s performance is that while in the first scene we get to see who Cottonmouth believes himself to be, in the subsequent scenes we get to see him in his less polished form. We see him badgered by his cousin, belittled by an associate from another gang and downright out of control. Ali displays an excellent amount of range for a villain who can oftentimes be narrowed to the too cool gangster.

As for the style of the series, it stays within the vein of the shows that have come before it but provides its own perspective that differentiates itself from the predecessors. The most obvious example of his is the music, which has taken a queue from Jessica Jones and doubled down. The soundtrack is a fusion of gritty jazz and hip hop and works wonders. This episode is on the slower side, which is what I expected considering the pace of the other Netflix’s Marvel shows. We get to see a lot of introduction to characters and a lot of set up for relationships that are going to be primary points of conflict and alliance later on. My only complaint is that sometimes the writing can get to be a little too much. It’s the same way I felt about Jessica Jones writing; it’s trying to be so smooth that it slips and ends up being comical. But it’s a small flaw that doesn’t pop up too much in this first episode.

As first episodes go, it’s a slower burn, but by the time it ends you can already see each piece is going to end up on the board. We’re still in the opening moves, but the tension is palpable.

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Luke Cage E.01 - "Moment of Truth" Director: Paul McGuigan