Alright Brandy, it's time for us to throw down about X-Men: Apocalypse the same way we did for Batman v Superman and Captain America: Civil War. This is a no-holds barred spoiler discussion, so don't read this until you see the movie!
STEVE: We all knew he was coming, but I didn't think this scene would be as awesome as it was. The reveal of Hugh Jackman in his Weapon X gear for the very first time was probably the biggest geek charge I got out of this flick. Sure, he berserkered a bit in X2, but seeing him jack dudes left and right in a comic faithful costume was one of the best movie theater experiences I've had this year. I think that if nothing else, this film and First Class proved that Wolverine is done best in small doses. How about it Brandy? Did you geek out over Weapon X too?
BRANDY: I admit, it was a good scene, but I really felt the scene did nothing for the story other than "WE NEED TO SHOEHORN WOLVERINE INTO THE FILM YOU GUYZ". The costume was great, you could tell Jackman had fun going berserker, but it just felt like... fan service? It DID quicken the pace of an otherwise kind of plodding moment in the film, though, so I'm appreciative of that. What I geeked out over was...
Holy Shit, Phoenix!
BRANDY: This made the ENTIRE film for me. Sophie Turner wasn't really selling it for me as Jean at the beginning of the film—she played the character a bit too timidly for my liking—but as the film went on, she really started to come into her own. And that Phoenix scene was SUCH a tease. There was such a build towards "will she/won't she" and the film kept me on the precipice of nerdgasm for what felt like forever, but when it paid off, it paid off BIG. When that Phoenix raptor came out and she shut everything the fuck down, I lost my freaking MIND. It's probably one of the most erotically satisfying moments I've had in a film in years. If I had the anatomy to get boners, I would have knocked the popcorn out of my lap. Phoenix/Jean has always been my favorite, and she's the strongest weapon in the X-arsenal. After the cinematic abortion of The Last Stand, I'm glad to see her character given the respect she deserves. Steve? Think we'll get a Dark Phoenix saga?
STEVE: I think we will. Singer has hinted as much in the past, and it would be nice to see it done right finally, but I have to admit that I was so checked out by the time Jean finally let the Phoenix loose that it didn't register for me as much as it did for you. Something that did resonate for me however was...
Magneto's Tragic Arc
STEVE: Setting aside that the most wanted man in the world probably couldn't hide out anywhere, even with a beard, Fassbender proves once again why he's one of the best actors alive. The one-two punch of him watching his family get slaughtered, followed by him swiftly murdering what I presume to be the entire Polish police force was the peak of his character arc. It was a bit of a cheat to have Apocalypse kill the dudes at the steel mill—man, was that ever a "When are they gonna get to the fireworks factory" moment for me—but the scene immediately after, where Magneto levels Auschwitz was great, despite giving more fuel to the Holocaust deniers of the world. Sadly his arc drops nearly straight down from this point, but his high points were in the stratosphere. How about it, Brandy? You ready to have Fassbender's kids?
BRANDY: I've written before that I could watch an entire movie of pissed-off superpowered Michael Fassbender fucking up shit, so it goes without saying that his arc hit home for me (and there is never a time in a film when a kid getting hurt doesn't completely wreck me inside). But you're right, once Apocalypse came into his scenes, his character arc dropped. Which brings me to my next discussion point...
The Four Horsemen Were Boring As Fuck (And Made No Sense)
BRANDY: Honestly, the Horsemen were the part I was most looking forward to, and... *makes armpit fart noises*. Olivia Munn's Psylocke was given the January Jones/Emma Frost treatment, in that she had almost zero dialogue and was there to strike several poses while looking vaguely angry. I'm not 100% sure how much of those Psylocke scenes were an actual breathing person, and how much were filmed with a cardboard standee and a big pink glow-stick. The rest of the Horsemen weren't given much more to do onscreen, either, apart from being some neat-looking mindless soldiers. Also, to have the horsemen just blindly be like, "yeah, cool, I'll follow you, let's go do this" with no questions? I can suspend disbelief for Ororo, because she's a young kid, and Angel, because he's an angry drunk ruin of a human being at this point, and Psylocke, because she's an actual cardboard cutout of a human, but Apocalypse just shows up and steals Magneto's vengeance from him in that factory scene and is all, "hey, let's commit genocide", and Magneto—a complex man who *lived through* the fucking genocide of his people and bows to NOBODY—is all like, "yeah, dude, I'll be your blind follower"? It makes ZERO sense for his character to do that, given everything they've built to at this point. Magneto doesn't even ask any questions. The Magneto I know would be PISSED at Apocalypse for taking those kills from him, and doesn't blindly follow anyone. It would have made more sense to have the Horsemen be under some hypnotic power than follow this grey-faced despotic freak willingly. What do you think, Steve? Am I off base here?
STEVE: You hit the nail on the head by saying that they should have been under some sort of spell or hypnotic power. That would've made total sense, especially for Magneto. The dumbest thing in the entire movie for me was that cutaway shot of Psylocke slinking off once Apocalypse was killed. For someone blindly following powerful leaders, you'd think she would have run toward Jean and been like, "You got room for one more on your team?" It made zero sense. There was a really small part of this film that I did adore, though, and that would make me want to watch the movie again...
Caliban Fucking Rocked!
STEVE: I've always had a soft spot for the Morlocks and finally seeing one on the big screen was the ultimate geek thrill for me. Even better, seeing him played by the guy who played Egghead in Snowpiercer. Brilliant bit of casting there, Mr. Singer. I do wish he had a bit more to do, but leaving him alive to run his underground mutant passport business for future films was a brilliant stroke of genius. This attention to detail is one of my favorite things about the X-Cinematic Universe, and despite only having about five minutes of screen time, he was definitely a highlight for me. How about you, Brandy? Any cameos or characters you never thought you'd see on the big screen strike your fancy?
BRANDY: I'm with you on Caliban. He was perfect, and I hope we see more of him. It's weird for me to call a Morlock adorable, but he was adorable. The breakout performance for me, though, was...
BRANDY: Kodi Smit-McPhee was so, so endearing as young Kurt Wagner. He seemed like this clueless but eager puppy, and it worked perfectly to lighten the film for me. In a very heavy, dramatic film, Kurt's scenes were a breath of fresh air. Nightcrawler has always been a favorite of mine (except in the Ultimate universe where they made him a homophobe, but I digress), and to see him brought to life with such sweetness and earnestness was a big highlight of this movie. Taking him from a frightened kid forced to fight his own kind into a curious, grateful refugee into a new world (while making him one of the most pivotal members of the new team) is also a pretty big—though probably unintentional—comment on the recent Syrian refugee crisis for me, and one I appreciated. Also, why did Mystique rescue only him and not Angel from that fight? Are they setting up a big reveal from the comics? What do you think, Steve?
STEVE: I suppose whether or not that reveal happens will hinge on Jennifer Lawrence's participation in further films, but I do agree that Smit-McPhee was fantastic and honored both the character and Alan Cumming's performance in X2. My biggest gripe with the film, however, was a throwaway line of sorts that was clearly there to set up future conflict...
STEVE: One of the most powerful foes ever to tangle with the mutants was Kevin McTaggert, the son of Moira McTaggert, who adopted the name Proteus after the ancient Greek god of the sea whose name means "Capable of assuming any form." When Professor X and Havoc go to visit Moira and we discover she has a son around ten, I knew immediately where that was headed. This means he'll be around 20 when the next sequel happens, and will likely be another failed student for Charles that turns against him—much like Stryker's son in X2. While I'm certainly not opposed to this plotline, it's been done before and I don't know that we need to go back down this road, especially with Mr. Sinister being teased in the stinger. How about it Brandy? Am I overreacting to nothing or was this just more setup in a film that felt like more setup than conclusion?
BRANDY: I'm actually with you on this one, Steve. Speaking of moments that are setups with no conclusion...
It's Really Annoying That We Got Teased With The Magneto/Quicksilver Reveal And No Payoff
BRANDY: The big reveal I was waiting for was for Magneto to find out about Quicksilver. I understand why Quicksilver didn't reveal it in that first pivotal moment—he himself wasn't ready to admit that this villain was his father. But after Magneto's redemptive moment around the end of the film, when he and Magneto have that moment and Pietro holds back... I just left the theater feeling a bit frustrated. Am I wrong to think that that arc should have been a payoff by the end of this film, Steve?
STEVE: Not at all. In fact, I think had Quicksilver said something to Magneto in that moment, it might have let him know that there was hope and a future and would have strengthened Erik's resolve to turn on Apocalypse. It felt like that moment came, but more out of Mystique guilting him into it rather than him embracing his progeny. That was a letdown for sure, but not as big a letdown for me as...
Charles Loses His Hair Because Apocalypse Something Something
STEVE: After all the cock-teasing about how Charles was going to lose his hair, I thought for sure there would be a great explanation for it in the film. Instead, his hair just kinda falls out once Apocalypse takes control of his mind. It didn't make any sense at all and felt like the stupid insert shot of Obi-Wan picking up Anakin's lightsaber at the end of Revenge of the Sith, like, "Oh, we'd better quickly address this in a way that makes little to no sense." We'd waited three films to see how exactly they'd address it, and they didn't really. It just sort of happened and no one seemed to give a shit. Anything else bug you about this movie, Brandy?
BRANDY: With you on this one, Steve. Also, James McAvoy does NOT pull off bald. I feel like he looks like an awkward bird? Not a good look for him. The thing that bugged me more than anything, though, is...
Oscar Isaac Was Totally Wasted As Apocalypse
BRANDY: Oscar Isaac, a.k.a the Internet's boyfriend, was given almost nothing to do. He brought no depth or pathos to an admittedly one-dimensional character. With all that makeup and prosthetics, he could have literally been played by anyone (including the previously mentioned Olivia Munn cardboard standee). Isaac is a wonderful actor—what the Hell happened here? He had zero charisma as En Sabah Nur, and he wasn't even cartoony enough to be entertaining. He was just... boring. He was unremarkable and too overtly powerful to really be an entertaining foil. Do you agree, Steve?
STEVE: Totally agree. I told a buddy of mine who was excited to see Isaac in the film not to go in hoping to see a great Oscar Isaac performance. He was weirdly stifled by the makeup and voice modulators and everything else. The real special effects should have involved his acting prowess, and sadly they were buried under the ridiculous makeup and costume. There's never really much of a chance for any one-off villain to make much of an impact in this saga, and sadly Oscar is just another victim of this insipid villain of the week curse.
Welp, I think that about wraps it up for us on this one. Be sure to check out all of our X-Men movie reviews by clicking here! What did and didn't work for you in X-Men: Apocalypse? Sound off in the comments section below!