X-Men: Apocalypse Review – NO SPOILERS

cf7kkqeuuaeqameThe following review contains NO SPOILERS.

tl;dr – X-Men: Apocalypse may have had some flaws, but it was packed with so many awesome moments that by the time the credits rolled, I didn’t really care about them.

Let’s address the elephant in the room. X-Men: Apocalypse is getting pretty mehh reviews from critics. Does it deserve that? Maybe. Did the X-Men movie/comic book fan inside me love this movie? Yes. Did the film critic inside me love this movie? I’m not sure, my inner fanboy was being too loud, so I think the film critic inside me may have simply checked out. All of this is to say that X-Men: Apocalypse isn’t as finely crafted of a film as previous entries like Days of Future Past, but that doesn’t stop it from being an incredibly entertaining movie.

X-Men: Apocalypse’s biggest strength is also it’s biggest weakness: it tries too hard to please the fans. For me, there were so many moments that made my inner fanboy squeal with joy, and not just my inner X-Men movie fan, but also my inner X-Men comic book fan. For the first time ever, it looks like Bryan Singer decided to appeal to the comic book readers by including several elements from the comics. I can’t discuss too many without giving away spoilers, but I think this was most evident with the characters of Scott and Jean – they are better developed in this movie than they were in any of the previous films, especially Jean.

To be honest, Magneto is probably my favorite character of the franchise (more on him in a bit), but Jean was my favorite character in this film, and Sophie Turner was great as the character. It may help that her voice even sounds a little like Jean from the 90s cartoon. And for comic book fans, Jean finally gets to do something in this movie that I’ve been waiting to see since they introduced her character all the way back in the first X-Men. Xavier also gets to show off his powers more than in previous films

So, in summary, there is a lot of awesome stuff in this movie that will satisfy your inner fanboy/fangirl that I can’t discuss without revealing spoilers. Just know that they’re there, and they’re awesome.

However, while this movie might be the most fanboy-friendly X-Men movie to date, it accomplishes this at the expense of the emotional resonance of most of the previous films. Most of the X-Men films focus pretty heavily on themes like discrimination and maintaining hope during dark times. This movie is pretty much only about a team of superheroes stopping a bad guy who wants to destroy the world. In fact, this movie feels much more like most Marvel Cinematic Universe films than it does like most previous X-Men films – it has an underdeveloped villain who wants to do bad stuff because reasons, it throws in tons of references to please comic book fans, and it’s packed with well-timed humor. While I am a huge fan of the MCU, I have not been one of the people campaigning to give the X-Men rights back to Marvel, because I felt that the X-Men films under Marvel’s control would feel a lot more like this movie than previous spectacular entries like Days of Future Past, First Class, and X2. If future X-Men films follow this trend, they may as well give the rights back to Marvel so we can at least see some cool crossovers (Avengers vs X-Men movie, anyone?) That said, I still have hope that Singer can turn the ship around with the next movie. I honestly feel that his movies work better when he’s trying to make a good movie rather than when he is trying to please the fans.

Another complaint is about Magneto. As I said, he’s probably my favorite character from the franchise, but they do some pretty weird things with him here. They give him some pretty decent motivation for why he does what he does in this movie, but I still thought that it felt like joining Apocalypse in his mission was a bit of an overreaction. You want to kill the humans that discriminate against mutants? Totally cool, bro. You want to kill human and mutant alike in an extinction level event? Not cool man, not cool.

Lastly, there is a lot of convenience in this movie. Characters happen to randomly be in the right place at the right time more than once. Also,  Apocalypse’s Four Horsemen seem pretty quick to go along with his plans with pretty much no explanation. “You want to cause a mass extinction killing all but only the strongest people on earth? Okay. Can I come too?” seems to be the motivation of all except Magneto.

So, as I said, not the best X-Men film. But if you go into the movie looking for an exciting action movie rather than an intellectually stimulating film that happens to feature superheroes, you’ll have a good time.

P.S. Stay until the end of the credits.

What are your thought on X-Men: Apocalypse? Sound off in the comments section below, and be sure to use spoiler warnings when appropriate!

 

Captain America: Civil War Review

Captain-America-Civil-War-main-posterThe following review contains NO SPOILERS.

tl;dr – I’m not sure if Civil War is a perfect movie, but it is a perfect comic book movie. I honestly believe that years from now, this will be considered the Empire Strikes Back of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Bold claims above, I know, but this movie packs an emotional punch. I really don’t want to spoil anything, but I’ll say that the state of the MCU at the end of this movie is about the same state that the Rebellion is in at the end of Episode V, hence the reference above. I’m still processing this movie, so I don’t know if I can definitively rank it with other comic book movies. But it might be the best MCU movie so far, and it might even be the best comic book movie of all time. Might. Like I said, I’m still processing.

Being a massive comic book fan, I personally consider the original Civil War storyline to be one of the best stories that Marvel has ever published. Saying that, I also have to say that I was extremely satisfied with this film. No, it doesn’t even come close to following the storyline from the comics (none of the Marvel movies really have), but it followed the spirit of the comic perfectly. Both Cap’s and Tony’s viewpoints have merit, and I feel the story will successfully create a divide among moviegoers, just like the original story divided comic book readers. While the marketing for this film has been pretty good, I know several people who are confused about why they are fighting. That will not be the case when you watch this film. Lines are drawn, and they are very clear, and everyone will pick a side for a specific reason. Everyone. Oh, and unlike a certain other superhero fight movie that came out this year (*cough* BvS *cough*), the title fight is a significant portion of this movie, and there may be more than one round of fighting.

This is Marvel’s most serious movie to date. Don’t get wrong there is some terrific and spot-on humor. It might actually some of the best-utilized humor in the MCU. Unlike some of the jokes in Age of Ultron, which seemed scripted (obviously they were, as it was a movie, but a lot of them felt very unnatural), my initial reaction is to say that all of the gags in this movie felt like they would actually happen in these given situations with these specific people. Especially the ones from Spider-Man.

Oh yeah, Spider-Man’s in this movie. I’ve heard a lot of people say that this is the best Spider-Man we’ve ever gotten in a movie. While I thought he was amaz-, nope, spectac-, nope, sensatio-, nope, um, really good, he’s only in the movie for like 10-15 minutes. I’ll need to see his full movie next year to determine whether I really regard him as the best (as am I a huge and unashamed fan of the both the Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield iterations of Spider-Man). But he was really good, and I’m now even more excited for his movie next year.

Prior to this tangent, I was talking about the seriousness of this movie. As I said, just as Empire Strikes Back took a dark turn after the original Star Wars, this movie sees most of our favorite characters go down dark paths. It’s not as dark as say Marvel’s own Daredevil show or even something like the Dark Knight trilogy, but this isn’t your happy-go-lucky Avengers team that we’ve seen up until now. Bad stuff happens, and that bad stuff has consequences. Much like the original comic, the story goes past the point of no return, and I doubt that things will ever be the same for most of these characters.

Speaking of characters, they all get their moments to shine. Everyone, and I mean everyone, of the Avengers gets their own little storyline in this movie. The character that I was most surprised about getting a significant story was Sharon Carter, however. She was criminally under-utilized in Winter Soldier. And while she isn’t featured in this movie quite as much as I wish she’d be (she is one of the best supporting character from the Captain America comics), it was certainly a pleasant surprise to see her as much as we did. All that said, the comments that “this isn’t an Avengers movie, this is a Captain America movie” are totally false. Sure, almost everything that happens in this movie can be traced back to Captain America, but it’s in the same way that almost everything that happens in Age of Ultron can be traced back to Tony. If this movie needed to be called “Captain America: Civil War”, AoU should have been called “Iron Man: Age of Ultron.” Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a complaint, I loved this movie, but “Avengers: Civil War” would have been a more fitting title.

There is really so much more I could say. The acting was great. The action was mind-blowingly amazing. There were so many moments that made my comic-book-nerd heart happy. Spider-Man was wonderful. Black Panther was set up extremely well for his upcoming movie. There were so many great character interactions, especially between members of the same teams, and members of the opposite teams. (So pretty much all of the character interactions). Every character gets a moment to be cool. And, while I definitely have a side (Team Cap all the way), there is no clear-cut choice between who is right and who is wrong.

I don’t feel like I need to rant any more about this movie. If you haven’t seen this yet, stop what you are doing and go to the theater right now. If you’ve already seen this, you should probably go see it again (I definitely will). Let me know what you think in the comments below, and be sure to use spoiler warnings where appropriate! If you enjoyed this review, please consider sharing it on social media!