The Mutant Mummy Returns
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‘Now We Know the Third One Is Always the Worst’ Is an Actual Line Spoken In this Film
a kindly review of X-Men: Apocalypse
by David Clemmer
In ancient Egypt, there was a vastly powerful man. At the height of his glory, in the middle of Some Magical Shit or Something™, he was betrayed and contained for centuries until awoken in the more-or-less modern age. Two hours of bad screenwriting and CGI later were wished back by thousands, and that wish was denied by a cold and empty cosmos.
Only, you know, blue.
As Peter Jackson and Ridley Scott have proven, the return of ‘the good director’ to a franchise is not always a good thing. Bryan Singer did swoop back in after the well-this-is-somewhat-refreshingness of X-Men: First Class to make a well-this-is-kinda-fucking-awesome sequel with Days of Future Past. So, in a way, it’s worse that Singer gave us false hopes that the days of X-Men movies sucking were in the future past…er…the past futu…I… Look! Elephant!
The problems with Apocalypse are not new problems to the superhero fad. As with the last Marvel movie I reviewed for you, you’re treated to a fire hose-like pukestorm of Things Happening™ and choppy, lopsided pacing issues. But where the full-on MCU flicks succeed is taking the clusterfuck and building it on a baseline of entertainment. Civil War and Age of Ultron might not have been the tightest examples of storytelling, but the filmmakers made sure you were at least having fun with it. They do this with…well, talent,, for one, but with well-timed comic relief, carefully-whittled dialogue, and an unwavering devotion to the plot—even if the plot is a silly, bloated one.
X-Men: Apocalypse, well, doesn’t do those things.
The comic relief is a) scattershot and b) ill-timed. Is Quicksilver the funny one? Or is Nightcrawler? Or is Professor X? He had a couple scenes where he bumbles over himself at the thought of seeing Moira MacTaggart again, where he directly apes a Ghostbusters gag (the one where Peter Venkman says, ‘I’m going to take Ms. Barrett back to her apartment and check her out. I’m going to go check out Ms. Barrett’s apartment.’ Yeah, they stole that for an X-Men movie. Okay. Okay, world.). Or was it Scott Summers reacting to Wolverine in a wink-wink moment to the audience like, Hey guys, remember that thing about the previous movies that everybody remembers? You do? We do too! Let’s remember it together!
And the Quicksilver-saves-everybody-from-the-exploding-Xavier-School scene is supposed to be funny in kind of a pseudo-slapsticky way, but [spoiler] Havoc died in the explosion, right after the bad guys kidnapped Xavier, which was right after Earth launched all of its nukes into orbit.[spoiler] Just a heaping truckful of yuks!
The plot, or what could be scrapped together from a mangled heap of events and called a plot, dragged its ass like a stubborn toddler from act to act. Remember, this is the X-Men: a collective imagined by their creator(s) as a hotbed of individual storylines to choose from in the same corner of a comic universe so they could sell more comics. To wit, you can’t just follow one or two mutants. Even in the first X-Men movie from 2000, you had Wolverine’s story, Rogue’s story, Xavier and Magneto’s story, the beginnings of a love triangle between Cyclops, Jean Grey, and Wolverine, the senator who became Puddle Man. Here, you have Mystique, Xavier, Magneto, Storm, Cyclops, Jean Grey, Quicksilver, and Apocalypse all vying for the main plot. Luckily, because of a slapdash, banana-dick screenplay, the rat-king of character arcs (or lack thereof) is hardly confusing. Instead, it’s tiresome.
Oh my god, this screenplay. Who wrote it, me when I was sixteen? You have no context for that, but I assure you, it is a sick burn.
I’m not going to waste my time, or yours, listing a bunch of examples of how much the script sucked. I’ll just give you a little treat. At the end, Mystique begins the rousing we’re only just beginning speech with the words, ‘Forget everything you know.’ Okay, Mystie, problemo numero uno is how cliché that line is, and numero dos is that you’re saying this entirely to characters who just went the whole plot getting their shit rocked by an ersatz blue god.
I wish I could say that this movie has some redeeming virtues but it just doesn’t. I guess I can say it’s not abysmal; it’s not fucking Batman v. Superman, that’s for sure. There isn’t even the excuse of the film tying everything together and completing a series—since, even though there were some overarching plots, First Class and Days of Future Past were separate adventures. The Magneto story doesn’t go anywhere interesting, nor does the Mystique story; it’s all just another X-Men adventure. And it’s a drawn-out fart.
There’s this really excellent moment that blew my mind, though. In a brief aside that didn’t serve the plot whatsoever, Cyclops, Jean Grey, Nightcrawler, and some Asian girl in a yellow jacket who doesn’t use her powers or mention her name once, all go to a movie. That movie is Return of the Jedi. Because this movie takes place in the ’80s, but the film forgot to stylize things so that you’d know that without having the kids go to a movie that came out in the ’80s, or have a character say, ‘Welcome to the ’80s.’
Anyway, as they leave the film, Unnamed Asian Girl In Yellow Jacket extols Empire Strikes Back in contrast to Jedi. There’s a brief back-and-forth, after which Jean Grey tries to be Deadpool by remarking, ‘Now we know the third one is always the worst.’
Yeah, sick burn on Last Stand, there, Apocalypse. You sure showed that movie what for.
27/58 Movie Madness MadLibs: Cliché Edition
6/14 tone shifts per hour
2/4 horsemen of the overused Christian imagery
0/1 smug, self-aware criticisms