Sunday, May 22, 2016

X-Men: Apocalypse: An Unofficial Review

Good evening to all innocent bystanders and followers of this X-Men blog. I've just come back from the cinema an hour ago, and I had panicked because I seem to have dropped my ovaries somewhere in the theater. It proved difficult to hold onto the rest of my womanhood while I got home. It was as if my entire reproductive system was dissolved into sand by goddamn Apocalypse himself. There are so many things I enjoyed about this third installment of the First Class arc, and the ninth one for the overall X-Men films. It was nearly as emotionally resonant as X-Men: First Class or as well-coordinated like X-Men: Days of Future Past, but it was FUN. I can't really complain much, in spite of the mixed reviews from critics, because it's really the SMALLEST MOMENTS OF CHARACTERIZATIONS that got to me. This post will be incoherent in some places so please bear with me, okay?

Okay, first of all: CHARLES AND ERIK. Because, as I've stressed often in my X-Men reviews: ALL ROADS WILL ULTIMATELY LEAD TO CHERIK. If you don't know this about me, then rest assured that I will never get tired of saying it. Now, Cherik for this film didn't get to interact as much as they did in their first two films combined but there is DEFINITELY LOVE LOST between them. They had a bitter separation for 10 years before Days of Future Past, and now another ten before Apocalypse began. They both had female love interests. Erik had finally settled down with a wife and daughter, while his implied ex-girlfriend Raven tries to get him back to their side. Charles, on the other hand, wants to get it on with Moira. Personally, these developments were no threat to me as a shipper. Erik losing yet another loved one (in this case, both wife and child) was a way to solidify yet again that this man just can't have a happily-ever-after. Meanwhile, Charles suddenly having a romantic interest on Moira felt as rushed as I had counted on; they simply had no foundation to this relationship/attraction at all except for the scene at the beginning of XMFC where he flirted with her, and at the end of the film where he kissed her and erased her memories. 

I actually think it was a little unfair for both female love interests. Erik's got killed earlier on (and Raven was more or less there for him in a platonic, conciliatory manner, if anything); while Moira was there by default because she is one of Charles Xavier's in-comics lover. That said, when moments between Charles and Erik do happen, they feel very significant. Charles had forgiven Erik for what he had done during Days of Future Past and yet again affirms that there is light and goodness to Erik no matter how many times Erik himself invalidates it. Actors McAvoy and Fassbender did tone down the flirty, bromantic accept of their interpretation of the friendship shared by Charles and Erik, but the connection was still there; faint and struggling--but still just as monumental for both of their characters, even if it played little role over the course of the film's plot.


The second thing I enjoyed was Sophie Turner as Jean Grey. I'm heavily biased because I love her so much as Sansa Stark in Game of Thrones. When it was first announced that she was casted as Jean Grey, I was so thrilled and ecstatic because it'd be a nice change to see her in another role, and playing such a pivotal character at that. She'd been great in this film but I know she could be better in the next films, if ever possible. I love her scenes most especially when she and Logan (Wolverine) first interacted. I love the moment of compassion that she allowed herself to grant Logan who is nothing but just a shell of murderous impulses at that point. She freed some parts of his overcrowded mind and may have given him a piece of his sanity back in doing so. Secondly, her role in defeating Apocalypse had shocked me because I still can't believe that I just saw her turn into THE PHOENIX in its closest incarnation on film yet! It was brief and definitely a fanservice moment to all comic book fans, but it was worth it. Seeing Sophie Turner in glorious flames like that was just so breathtaking! I would want to have a next film just to see if they will re-do The Dark Phoenix Saga AND ACTUALLY DELIVER THE GOODS for real this time!

And can we please talk about how HOT OLIVIA MUNN WAS AS PSYLOCKE!? I don't think I could ever stop talking about it, actually. She looked tough, pristine and pure perfection! Her costume has got to be the closest comic-book faithful costume I have ever seen in the history of X-Men! Even Magneto's across the films doesn't look nearly as faithful to the comic book version as hers had been! As for her role in the film: Well, she was serviceable. Munn was photographic because she looked like an action figure who came to life, but other than a few awesome badass action scenes, she served primarily as a bruiser and didn't really have any real dynamic character development. I sure hope she would appear in the next film again. 

I was even talking to a friend that she could be a new Wolverine; the jaded outsider who isn't sure she could trust the Gifted School for Mutants, but decides to join them for a while to get a better read of the other mutants. Munn is certainly up to the task (the lady has action chops as much as she shines on the beauty department, mind you!). Storm--as usual--got the short end of the stick again. I don't understand why Storm doesn't translate well in film at all! She is a self-made goddess!! 

STOP STEPPING ON HER CHARACTER AND PLEASE WRITE HER TO HER FULLEST POTENTIAL, DAMMIT!! Stop understating her awesomeness, writers! I liked the actress they casted for the role, and I sure hope she will get her fair of screen time next time. Jubilee was a nice addition too, but THERE IS SO MUCH MORE TO DO WITH STORM, OKAY? STOP FUCKING NEGLECTING HER AND PUSHING HER TO THE SIDELINES ALL THE TIME! Make it rain with Ororo Munroe!

As for Apocalypse as a villain? I don't know. I didn't really care. He was an antediluvian, self-proclaimed divine being who wanted to remake the world to the image of mutants. I've read Age of Apocalypse. I've endured that clusterfuck divided into three (or four) collections last year, and though it was a little nineties for me (and not even in the best of ways), I did get an in-depth understanding of the character a lot more so than his condensed adaptation into this film. I don't know, guys. I wasn't that crazy about him unlike with the Sentinels. Yes, I am saying that killer robots were more definable than this film's version of Apocalypse. Another thing I wasn't happy about was Angel. A poor misuse of character, by the way. He's never gotten the fairest of treatment even in comics either. Too bad that didn't change here in this movie. Damn. But hey, more room for the other male heroes, I suppose. Scott (Cyclops) and Kurt (Nightcrawler) were fine as their own, but of course Evan Peters as Quicksilver really shone! MCU discarded his character in their Avengers film, but at least X-Men is making use of him here. He's such a refreshing comic relief and I'm absolutely glad he's around. This is the second Evan Peters performance that impressed me since his role in the fifth season of American Horror Story. KEEP IT UP, BRO! You're on my good side!~

So the rest of the film boiled down to CHARLES AND ERIK again. Seriously, what else do you expect me to talk about in this post? Look, like I said, I don't have a problem with Charles/Moira romance angle, but I hope they build on it in the next film some more because it's on the same level of that forced Steve/Sharon angle in Captain America: Civil War, although at least Charles and Moira did have enough scenes in First Class that make them more qualified than the former as far as romantic relationships go.

It was completely RIDICULOUS when we get a flashback of their interactions in XMFC WHICH DID NOT HAVE ANY KIND OF ROMANTIC TENSION WHATSOEVER AT ALL. I don't think half of the film-goers even fully recognized her until that sequence. She didn't have that much of a presence with Charles, mostly because X-MEN: FIRST CLASS WAS ALL ABOUT CHARLES AND ERIK'S RELATIONSHIP! Doing that flashback with Moira was just so FORCED AND MANIPULATIVE. Much like The Winter Soldier built more on Steve and Natasha's relationship, so did First Class with Charles and Erik. Moira was just a part of the cast. Hell, Raven and Erik would have a more believable romantic history because they did have enough chemistry and conflict on screen. I love Rose Byrne so I do want to see her again for the next film. But I do hope writers would stop shoehorning her relationship with Charles, and actually put some time and effort in letting it develop for the audience's benefit.

Now I bring up Charles/Moira again because we're talking about flashback. And ERIK GETS ONE ABOUT CHARLES! That entire sequence alone which included two of the most amazing shippy scenes from First Class was so poignant and masterful! Raven was the one who opened Erik's eyes to the mistake of his choice when he sided with Apocalypse. While in the midst of rebuilding the world as commanded by the bad guy, Erik gets an epiphany by remembering the moments (1) Charles had asked him to stay and become a part of something larger than himself, and (2) Charles proclaiming that there is more to Erik than pain and anger--there's also good and Charles feels it and wants to bring it forth no matter what. THAT FUCKING FLASHBACK, guys! I mean, it was like a shipper edited those scenes because it was definitely something I can expect watching from a fan-made Cherik music video (and I have made a shit-ton of those myself!). It was one of the two Cherik-centric scenes in the film AND IT WAS EPIC!

The second one was the final scene of them talking about the future of the X-Men. It was a nice moment between two good old friends; both finally giving way and compromising just a little not just for the sake of truce, but also because of mutual affection. Charles and Erik have been apart for two non-consecutive decades. The first decade was because of a bitter and resentful falling-out because of disagreements in ideals; the next was an unavoidable cool-off of sorts to pick up the pieces of their respective lives without each other. They have a complicated history, and it was never going to be easy, but at least for now they have learned to truly see things in each other's perspective. Erik agreed to take a step back from his hate-mongering and just trust Charles that he knows what he's doing with the mutant children in his care. Meanwhile, Charles admits for the first time that if anyone comes for his children, he will do whatever is necessary to protect them--even if it's through violence. Hearing Charles finally coming to terms that sometimes if the world pushes you, then you gotta push back, Erik is not just relieved but touched. Finally, his truest friend had become tougher and wiser, and no longer the same passive pacifist as he was in First Class.

I think Charles and Erik's relationship in Apocalypse is a step in the right direction. They are no longer embittered rivals, nor are they kindred souls desperate to impose on each other their conflicting beliefs. For once, they're just two men who had a history so intrinsically tied to one another, but chose to recognize that most of the time even though they can't sustain their connection, they can still find a way to remain diplomatic friends when all is said and done. Charles and Erik is a story about how much love and friendship can test us, and make us grow and change both in the best and worst ways possible. 

At this moment, I believe that both Charles and Erik had chosen to be at their best, and that's a piece of happiness I will cherish before the next trial and heartache for these two comes along.

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