Some Random Thoughts on X-Men: Apocalypse

Random thoughts in no particular order. Spoilers ahead.

  1. The ancient Egypt crowd scene looked appropriately brown. In a story that pings on some of the racialist elements of dynastic race theory and ancient aliens it’s good to see (ancient) Egyptians acting with initiative. It would be nice if we saw some modern Egyptians who weren’t bit-part cultists.160607Apocalypse
  2. Speaking of characters with initiative, it’s also good to see a lot of female characters taking charge and being the ones people look to in a crisis. Not to mention Charles Xavier being the damsel in distress, for variety.
  3. On the other hand, two fridged women for the price of one to get Magneto back in the game. *Sigh*
  4. Apparently Apocalypse’s superpower is… fashion design?
  5. This movie was worth the price of admission just to watch Quicksilver rescuing everyone from the exploding mansion. I could just watch that scene on a loop for a good long while.
  6. You know, maybe they should try making an X-Men movie without Wolverine some time, just for giggles.
  7. I still don’t get the point of launching the whole world’s nuclear weapons into space. How was that relevant to Apocalypse’s plan? It’s not like they were a threat to him and since his plan is basically “blow up the world” anyway, why waste the nukes?
  8. On the whole, this movie reminded me a lot of Age of Ultron. The same grand ambitions, the same dizzyingly large cast, the same lack of narrative chewing after too big a bite of individual character arcs.
  9. Did I really just use the phrase “narrative chewing?” Yes. Yes, I did.

Responses to Erik’s thoughts and additional randomness by Eppu

  1. Looked appropriately brown to me, too, but maybe not black enough…? Not my era, area, nor expertise; would be nice to hear from someone more knowledgeable. But: Definitely too few women in that initial Apocalypse-worship scene. We existed in ancient times, too, and would’ve been interested in a spectacle.
  2. Agreed. One notable exception being Jean Grey / Phoenix. There’s a lot to her arc, but we only saw the barest of bare minimums.
  3. Not enough facepalm in the world for that. *frustration!*
  4. Apocalypse needs to hand in his supervillain club card. Can you say milquetoast? What I reaaaaally enjoyed, though, was the slow buildup. It’s not that usual in an action-genre film. Unfortunately, the end flopped.
  5. That was an epic scene! But I have to say I liked Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s Quicksilver better in Avengers: Age of Ultron. It’s a shame that the movie rights are so entangled that we’re likely not to see MCU superheroes and mutants in the same flicks.
  6. Agreed. They did go to Canada, though; I always enjoy seeing northerly locations get screen time.
  7. And speaking of plot oddities, how is it a workable plan for Charles Xavier to exhort Jean Grey to just let go? On the other hand, I suppose it’s a change to see a deus ex machina of a woman asked to release her pent-up feelings and whatnot.
  8. Agreed. Going in with low expectations helped. As I said to someone else, it was less bad than I thought. Of course, that doesn’t make it good, per se. Overall it feels like no-one really knows exactly what to do with the mutant movies so they end up all over the place, whereas there’s at least some oversight or long-term planning for the MCU properties.

Other thoughts:

  • There were several introductory scenes (e.g. of Angel & Nightcrawler) that worked quite well. Too bad that stringing them together doesn’t make a movie.
  • I didn’t like Angel’s metal wings, but eh; not the end of the world.
  • I do like James McAvoy as Professor Xavier. If only someone would do more of Patrick Stewart’s and McAvoy’s Xavier in the same story.
  • I can’t say I remember Psylocke from my X-Men reading days, but I liked Olivia Munn. I might have to check out what else she’s been in.
  • Storm suffers from the same lack of attention as Jean Grey. There would’ve been a lot to delve into.
  • The screen version of Mystique’s skin is horrible. (Scales and/or raised nodules? Really? Mostly naked? REALLY?!?) Fortunately we saw less of it in this movie.
  • What a way to hand-wave Havok off the story. He never was a special character to me, but doesn’t he deserve better? Disappointing with a capital d.
  • Others have said this, too, but I’ll repeat: Oscar Isaac’s skills were wasted under all that makeup.

Image: Detail of still from X-Men: Apocalypse via IMDb

In the Seen on Screen occasional feature, we discuss movies and television shows of interest.

Some Random Thoughts on Jurassic World

In no particular order. Spoiler warnings in effect.

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  • There is a point at which running from killer dinosaurs in the jungle in heels crosses the line from “This character is a professional businesswoman who isn’t at ease with the wild nature of the animals she supervises” to “This character is a moron.” That point is: the very moment you start running from killer dinosaurs in the jungle in heels.
  • The only time Claire actually seems to know what she’s doing is when she’s coordinating things in the control room. This movie could have been much better if Owen had stayed out in the field doing what he’s good at and Claire had stayed in the control room doing what she’s good at. Or maybe have Claire in the field and Owen in the control room, each of them desperately trying to coach the other through a job they’re not prepared for. As it is, it feels too much like the script is saying: “Silly woman, stop trying to do a man’s job.”
  • Kids are annoying. Badly-behaved kids are even more annoying. Badly behaved kids who run away from the adults who are supposed to be taking care of them (even if those adults are doing a crummy job of it) are annoyinger still. That said, these particular kids were a tiny bit less annoying than they could have been. They were still pretty annoying, though.
  • The nods to the original Jurassic Park were for the most part nicely done and not too obtrusive. I have a fond nostalgia for the original movie (not so much the first two sequels), and I was touched.
  • That said, what made the original Jurassic Park work so well was that the dinosaurs were not characters. They were animals. They didn’t have motivations beyond the animal drives to hunt and defend their territory. The raptors’ stealthy pack hunting was the limit of their intellectual abilities. They were easy enough to understand; what made them scary was mass, speed, claws and teeth. It didn’t matter if you were smarter than a dinosaur. All the smarts in the world didn’t make you any bigger, faster, or less squishy. The sequels have turned the dinosaurs into characters and it has not served them well. Jurassic World is the worst yet in this regard. When a giant dinosaur starts just messing with the humans (decoy tactics, camouflage, velociraptor subversion), it becomes less scary because it’s entering a contest of smarts, not power, and that’s a fight Indominus rex can’t win, no matter what genes they spliced into that thing.
  • Either that dinosaur is bulletproof or In-Gen is recruiting straight from the Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy. Either way, bad move, guys.
  • Rolling fields full of Apatosaurs, Stegosaurs, and Triceratopses can still send me straight to six-year-old bliss land, and this movie delivers.
  • I’m of two minds about the Mosasaurus-ex-machina ending. On one hand, it was well set up and executed. On the other hand, after bringing the old T. rex onto the field, it feels like a Hail Mary too far.
  • If ever there was movie calling out for a “sudden but inevitable betrayal” joke, this was it. We got robbed.
  • Watching the trailers, I nursed a hope that Bryce Dallas Howard’s character was a grown-up Lexie from Jurassic Park. Nope.
  • The movie is better than The Lost World and Jurassic Park 3 and feels like a worthy successor to the original. It’s still one competent professional woman, one hurricane, and one Samuel L. Jackson short of measuring up.

Image via comingsoon.net.

In the Seen on Screen occasional feature, we discuss movies and television shows of interest.