Is “X-Men: The Last Stand” really that bad?
I ask because I can’t discern a noticeable dip in quality between this readily accepted “misfire” and the supposed high points in the franchise like “X-Men 2” and “Days of Future Past.” All of these films are more or less the same. That isn’t a scathing indictment of the series, it’s just that every one of these movies is like a dinner at Burger King: it’s good but not great, it’s not exactly surprising but then you weren’t looking to be surprised in the first place and, most importantly, the experience doesn’t really stay with you.
Maybe the presence of Kelsey Grammer in Cookie Monster drag gives you a slight case of indigestion, but it’s not enough to completely steer you away from the series. As it was with the previous entries, so it goes with “X-Men: Apocalypse.” It’s fine. In fact it’s more than fine, it’s double plus fine. I’ll even take it a step further and say it’s more enjoyable than “Captain America: Civil War” simply because it’s violent, kitschy and has an extended Wolverine cameo so obligatory and gleefully bloody, it briefly recreates what it would be like to watch a million Iron Mans forever stamping their mechanical boots on the faces of a million Captain Americas for all eternity.
“Apocalypse” technically takes place in the ’80s, but more accurately, it’s the ’80s as filtered through a VH1, talking head-style nostalgia program. It’s a vision of the decade in which there was nothing to do but hike your “Miami Vice” blazer past your elbows and discuss “Return of the Jedi” with your friends as they play Ms. Pac Man in a pleather Thriller jacket It’s not quite the ’80s as much as it is THE 80S!!!! It’s strange that “Age of Apocalypse” doesn’t go that extra mile and force Magneto to constantly carry around a Rubik’s cube or enroll Alf at Charles Xavier’s School.
At any rate, outside of scenes where the cast seems to be perpetually on the cusp of turning to the camera and asking if anyone remembers Wacky Wall Walkers, “Age of Apocalypse” revolves around Apocalypse (as played, inexplicably, by “Inside Llewyn Davis’s” Oscar Isaac) the world’s first mutant who awakes from a million year slumber in Egypt refreshed, recharged and ready to genocide the living shit out of humanity. Helping him in his quest are his four brainwashed horsemen: Magneto (Michael Fassbender), Psylocke (Olivia Munn), Storm (Alexandra Shipp) and some dude with giant bird wings. It’s up to Professor X (James McAvoy) to use his mutant telekinesis to take down this threat but, y’know, a lot of his students are going through mutant puberty and he’s losing his hair and Rose Byrne doesn’t remember who he is.
It’s just – there’s just a lot going on right now.
Summer movie season is upon us and “Apocalypse” is the kind of dumb, disposable entertainment that keeps us away from the sun for two hours. Starting with Apocalypse – who looks like a sad-clown, steam punk robot crossed with some unnamed Muppet locked inside the basement of that theater from The Muppet Show, “Apocalypse” is pure campy garbage.
It’s soapy Douglas Kirk-style melodrama combined with violent scenes of people getting stabbed, crushed or absorbed into walls fused with silly moments of meta-comedy and Evan Peters saving a pizza loving bulldog. But at the center of this goofy junk are strong performances from McAvoy, Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence, who add an almost unnecessary level of gravitas to the proceedings.
“Apocalypse” is enjoyable. It won’t bring any new converts to the table, however, it does what it has to do in an efficient and watchable manner. There are worse movies out there but there are also better movies, too. Still, it exists and there’s nothing especially tragic about that.
Mike Sullivan is a movie reviewer for Weekender. Movie reviews appear weekly in Weekender.
Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence
Director: Bryan Singer
Weekender Rating: WWW
Length: 144 minutes