30 May 2016

Why I liked X-Men: Apocalypse

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Right now it seems that most of the reviews have treated X-Men: Apocalypse as though they're Scum's Ray Winstone by casually walking up to it, clobbering it in the face with a sock full of snooker balls and screaming “I'm the daddy now!” This was obviously both a surprise and a shame because up until now all of Bryan Singer's X-Men movies had been brilliant. Before he turned up with his fuck-off adrenaline needle, comic-book movies were essentially just lying on the floor like a dying crack-head with blood pouring out of its nose. With both X-Men and X-Men 2, he delivered the shot to the heart that's ultimately lead to comic book movies being conceived and shat out at a faster rate than Mickey Rourke can go through new faces. As a huge fan of this series I went into the screening with a combination of both hesitation and optimism. Although it was those same two feelings that I went into Batman V Superman with before leaving three hours later with a deadness to my eyes that suggested I'd just done a tour of fucking 'Nam.

So to quickly make an attempt at filling you in on the story, I'd say that Singer has been preparing for the upcoming Independence Day Resurgence by marathon-ing his favourite Roland Emmerich movies. So we start off with some Stargate-esque bullshit in which a big bad mutant does some big bad mutant bullshit in ancient Egypt. Then he goes to sleep for what must be a few centuries which is what most of us obviously felt like doing during Emmerich's more-shit-than-actual-shit Anonymous film. When said mutant wakes up, he feels an urge to destroy the world because for some reason he decides to wake up in the 1980's, and who wouldn't want to destroy that world? You've been asleep for hundreds of years and suddenly we're prancing about with shoulder pads and mullets and raving about the place to Banana-fucking-rama?! Waking up in the 80's after centuries of slumber must be equivalent to the rage I feel being woken up before midday on a weekend. Either the snooze button is getting pushed again or I'm going to burn the fucking house down. At this point the X-Men are all scattered about with their own various little agendas, however they decide to come together to stop this groggy twat from destroying the world. It's at this point that Singer then gets to the Independence Day, Day After Tomorrow, 2012, part of Emmerich's filmography by treating the planet with the same destructive power and contempt as Lindsey Lohan has applied to her own fucking career.

Now, despite the fact that I once pretended to be Tarzan before slipping off the edge of the bath and being rushed to hospital for cracking my balls on the the sink, I'm not actually stupid. I can see that X-Men: Apocalypse has its problems, and we can go into them shortly, but I'd be lying if I told you that I didn't really fucking enjoy this movie. Objectively there's absolutely no question at all that this film is waaaay too long, however from a more subjective point of view I really didn't care. The other problem is that in the past, the X-Men movies have had some degree of subtext in the way they kind of dealt with issues of race and/or sexuality- this film doesn't really have any of that, with it putting more emphasis on its more 'smashy, smashy, things go boom' agenda. However despite my lack of homosexuality, and having had my bones wrapped in a layer of pure honkey-skin, I've loved the X-Men since I was fresh out of nappies. If you ask me, I'd say that I'm an only child because my parents got a kid that was so perfect on their first attempt that any subsequent off-spring would only be a disappointment by comparison. However if you ask my Mum, she claims that they actually decided not to have any more because they 'got it so wrong the first time that another child wouldn't be worth the risk'. Fucking bitch.

I only mention all of this because I believe that the reason I've always loved the X-Men is because it's about a family composed entirely out of loners who became friends. Well, that, and it features a man who can make knives come out of his fucking knuckles. I can't relate to the 'minority suffering prejudice' analogy of the series, however beyond dashing good looks and impressively large genitals, one of the many characteristics of an only child is the need to custom-make our own family and siblings from friends around us. Essentially we do to our chums what Madonna and Angelina Jolie do to little African babies. We find them and we keep them. As a child, I therefore fell in love with all of the characters in the X-Men world and the various loyalties that they all held to one another. You would be absolutely right to slag this film off for disposing its previous subtext in favour of the kind of explosions that Michael Bay farts out in his sleep, however Apocalypse still has the one thing that I've always loved and that's the characters. People talk about how The Phantom Menace ruined their childhood which I can't say was true for me. I was ten when that movie came out and so at an age in which I was too stupid to know any better. However as much as I'd like to say that I had a trauma free upbringing, I obviously can't. I might not have been born into poverty and I didn't lose my innocence with a creepy uncle in his tree house ...however I did have to experience the travesty of X-Men-fucking-3.

In that film, Professor X became an unquestionable bell-end; Cyclops was killed off with the kind of casualness that most of us apply to taking our daily dump; and the Dark Phoenix Saga was about as wasted as Charlie Sheen after a night of allegedly spreading his HIV. Since that third instalment Deliverance-style fucked the franchise into the ground, they've since been trying to hide the evidence like a Hollywood fixer with blood on his hands. With First Class, they basically hit the re-boot button and with Days Of Future Past, they time travelled away as much of the damage as they possibly could. One of the reasons I really liked Apocalypse was because, with the slate now pretty clean, the film starts to rebuild everything that the third instalment broke. So here we get hints towards the Phoenix story being re-told, Nightcrawler returns, and Cyclops has become an even more enjoyable character than any of the previous films ever allowed him to be. No offence to James Marsden but he did occasionally come across as dull as balls when stood next to fucking Wolverine. Essentially this movie builds up an X-Men team that I really want to see more of, with McAvoy now also fully owning a role that Patrick Stewart seemed irreplaceable in. Throw in a bit more of Days Of Future Past's scene-stealing Quicksilver, make him do his shit to the sound of Eurythmics, and to misquote the song, 'who am I to fucking disagree?!'

So going back to my original point, I do agree that the film is too long but I was just happy to spend the time in the company of these characters as we finally cleared the franchise completely of X-Men 3. A lot of the reviews have criticised this film's third act destruction as being on par with the anal-raping that Metropolis took at the end of Man Of Steel, however in defence of Apocalypse I'd say that at least it's the bad guys doing the damage here. The problem with Man Of Steel wasn't specifically the damage that took place but rather in that it showed a fundamental lack of understanding of the character of Superman to have him partake in it. Not only is Snyder's Superman responsible for the death of thousands of innocent people, but he even wears his undies under his pants. I mean who the fuck is he!? In this movie it's Apocalypse doing most of the damage which, unless that's a Little John-style ironic name is kind of what I'd expect him to be doing really. Singer has said all along that he wanted to make an Emmerich inspired action movie and so to criticise this for its level of destruction is to basically criticise the disaster movie genre as a whole. So you know.. fuck you.

Of course, several reviews have also pointed out that the film doesn't even attempt to acknowledge the suffering of the innocent people that would have been caught up in this disaster. Oh, and even though he might be fucking up the world, they claim that Apocalypse himself is about as interesting and well developed as a shop manakin that's been made out of shit and become deformed in the sun. Well.. yeah, alright, fair enough. They have a point there. Despite being played by Oscar Isaac whose current run of performances have resulted in him being hotter than both the planet's molten core crossed with The Fappening, Apocalypse is essentially just that Power Ranger villain that we all thought he looked like, but with the creepy whisper of Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation's Sean Harris. Perhaps as a result of its lack of subtext, there's also a lightness to this movie that makes it feel like a lesser entry into the franchise. Although to suggest that it's as bad as X-Men 3, as some reviews have, is just fucking stupid. Perhaps the other problem is the brilliance of Captain America: Civil War and the MCU in general which has a cohesiveness and continuity that even the biggest X-Men fan would find tricky to defend. Didn't Mystique capture Wolverine at the end of Days Of Future Past? Why has Moira MacTaggert not aged a day in twenty years? Sorry-- what accent does Magneto have?

Then again a lot of people seemed angry by the reviews of Batman V Superman because they wrongly assumed it wasn't total shit. Maybe, like both them and the kind of person that asks “why do I always fall for the bastards”, it's simply that as a fan of the franchise I'm a little in denial. I'm not saying that some of the terrible reviews for X-Men: Apocalypse aren't making completely valid points- I read Empire Magazine's two star review of it and couldn't find a single fault with what they said. However for me personally I felt that I got enough of what I wanted out of it that I was able to forgive it for the things it lacked. Beyond the film taking a big old smelly dump on top of X-Men 3, this film also features a Cyclops scene that was originally intended for a re-edit of the very first X-Men movie and a psychic battle that was originally going to feature in First Class before Inception was released with something similar. As fan pleasing goes, the only thing that I wasn't provided with was permission to toss one off during the scenes featuring a semi-dressed Storm. Objectively I'd say that this film was an average film rather than a bad one, but throwing on all the subjective shit that I love, I came away happy. If it was a meal then it's one that I know wasn't particularly nutritious but fuck it, it tasted good to me. Thanks for reading, motherfuckers, and see you next time.



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