*SPOILER FREE TALK IN PROGRESS*
No doubt about it folks. Nowadays if you don’t see a movie right away, chances are your opinion of it will be tainted by the internet. This film is poised to suffer a very similar fate as BVS did thanks to the overwhelming backlash of critics and fans. Granted its no where near as harsh as the attack on BVS was; Metacritic and Rotten tomatoes have it around the low 50s high 40s rating making it rotten. Audience reaction is around the, “meh, it’s alright” and “dude, love me some quicksilver and Magneto though!” So, what exactly is the problem?
From what I gather, the trouble is a cross between pleasing the fans and supplying enough time for the big wig actors attached for the franchise; Which therefore sacrifices the content. First off, they’ve based the film after a very popular but extremely complicated comic book timeline. I still can’t figure out the time line of the original comic from the countless prologues, side quests, epilogues, and countless of chapters centered around the hash tag #ageofapocalypse (if anyone has a configured map to it, post it over!). It’s almost impossible to put it up on screen unless you want to go “Roots” style streaming with it. Sure, their last attempt of a popular adaptation, ‘Days of Future Past’ was successful but it had a much more concentrated linear story and remained in canon with the characters.
Case in point, Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique. This character has always been drawn as the anti-hero; someone who’s agenda is always a “mystery” (get it? ). She leaves you guessing on which side she’ll take, sometimes she helps, sometimes she causes trouble. The only thing constant about her agenda is to look out for herself. Team leader? Hero? Role model? eh not really. Making heroic speeches to motivate others? No. Watching her recite the, “you’re x-men” monologue was almost as painful as Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine “We are X-Men” one in X-3. Yes, push your characters into different territories but don’t throw them out into left field. Especially, when you haven’t really justified the change. What happens then is we, the audience, see only, “Jennifer Lawrence is a big name. We must give her stuff to do! Wait, she doesn’t like the blue makeup? No prob, we can write something in her contract that says she will only be in the blue outfit 1/4th of the screen time.” ……….*sigh*ok.
Then there’s the problem of overshadowing newer characters. Poor Jubliee. They keep trying to make her happen but she always gets the ax. It’s like Regina is the editor for all these movies when it comes to that character, “Stop trying to make Jubliee happen! It’s never going to happen!!!” She’s not the only one though; Olivia Munn’s Psylocke definitely got reduced down to heavy muscle only category. Olivia’s social media page was on fire for over a year showing off her skills in fighting, which got a lot of fans hyped up to see her BUT besides one quick show down with Beast, there wasn’t much else of her character. Speaking of character, Apocalypse….oh boy, I’m not saying its Jesse Eisenberg bad….but its not Health Ledger Joker good either. For as dangerous as that villain, he’s not very menacing on screen. A lot of fans have argued that he’s not tall enough, sure I’ll grant you he could have towered a little more, but its the way he was handled too. The costume is awkward, the voice reminded me more of Kaa from Jungle Book most of the time and the execution of his actions are…well…safe. This is a guy that does not give a flying saucer if the weak lives or dies. If you stand in his way? You’re straight up dead. If he wants you, he’s taking you. There should be little to no compassion. If anything they spent more time campaigning for Magneto to be the reigning villain of the flick. They gave Erik more back story, motivation and struggle for loving humans than they did Apocalypse. Which side note: am I the only one that kind of wishes they had gone with the canon of the comic where Charles’s death in the beginning led to Magneto taking over the X-Men for him and therefore bringing the resurface of Apocalypse? Just saying, that would have been saweet! That being said, there’s still a lot of enjoyable moments. Quicksilver is a scene stealer every time he shows up. Magneto like I said is…magnetic (sorry it was there, I had to). It’s always great to see my personal favorites Wolverine and Jean Grey as well.
My hope, in general, for these comic book movies is that content will start to become more essential. Action for the sake of action won’t sell, one or two big names won’t make a movie either. By choosing to adapt a popular comic book franchise you already have major brand that will get people into the theater. If you give it a good story and breath life into our beloved characters the tomatoes will ripen.