The Wrath of Phoenix: A Spoiler-free review of X-Men Apocalypse

I don’t understand how the best and probably most gripping superhero films of the first half of 2016 always end up getting bad reviews and the fewest stars possible on Rotten Tomatoes.

The thing about superhero movie critics is that they don’t even consider the source material and how each origin of a character was played out. Most of the time these are big-time movie critics that have been doing this for years now, and they’re only claim is that it should hit the criterion of a basic genre movie. WRONG! They aren’t superhero nor comic book fans. You think X-Men Apocalypse was a HUGE disappointment? For you it is, but then again, like all the other superhero movies released this year, it wasn’t made for the critics. It was made for those of us who grew up reading their stories in the comics. For those who grew up not feeling different anymore given how the X-Men stood as a role model for kids who felt shunned and irked by society and their peers.

These critics don’t know how much this film means to the franchise now. It’s more than a reboot, and it’s more than just showing mutants kick ass. This is about bringing to life what we geeks have always been wanting to see. This is about breathing new content and new perspective to our well-loved X-Men Heroes.

So, based from my initial viewing of X-Men Apocalypse, here are the key points and elements of the film that totally gripped me until now.

  • X-Men Apocalypse is not extremely generic. It’s plot develops into deep emotional conflict spanning from Magneto to Raven/Mystique. Even the other X-Men have their own conflicts and unpredictability in terms of power.
  • Apocalypse is not corny and dull. It never was. Same heroes, different predicaments and executions.
  • The appearance of ********e! There. I will go no further. But this one made me shake and hyperventilate because no other X-Men movie is complete without this… thing.
  • It has a sense of time and place. It further explains the messy timeline of the X-Men franchise and it doesn’t make you go “how the hell is he in there if in the previous one he’s like not”.
  • The new characters might seem under-used, but given the franchise’s huge roster of X-Men Mutants, this is satisfying. This is not the last X-Men movie. If you want an intense character development, a feature film would do the job. Plus, it’s the key members of the X-Men. So I hope we’ll get to see an X-Men movie that could only feature Cyclops et. al.
Apocalypse also explains how Professor X got bald. Hehehe
  • The CGI is over the top. You can’t have an X-Men movie without stunning CGI. Although you would see that it’s obviously CGI, it wouldn’t matter. We need CGI to chow how powerful these mutants are. Unless…
  • Blue Mystique’s 10 minute screen time is forgivable given how Raven was having a hard time trying to accept her being a mutant heroine.
  • The final battle is a logical and acceptable way of mutant fighting. What else were you expecting, fist fights and brawls? This is a showcase of power and ability, not a WWE Superhero match.
  • Sansa Stark (I had to bring that up because of the GoT fanboy in me hehehe) is a better Jean Grey/Phoenix than Famke Janssen. This is how Jean Grey was. A shy, introvert-ish teen who’s afraid to use her exceedingly powerful mutant abilities. Janssen was kind of sucky and one-sided, with no conflict going on except for her knowing eventually that she’ll be the dreaded Phoenix. The Jean Grey/Phoenix in this movie is the ultimate show of what it means for Jean Grey to be a mutant. Phoenix is her evil alter-ego (and probably the most powerful X-Men ever), and it was shown in Apocalypse how it could progress. There’s more to Jean Grey than just being Scott Summers’ girlfriend and Professor X’s glorified sidekick slash assistant slash killer. There’s more.
Jean and Scott (and Kurt) will always be my favorite X-Men.

If you want to name an X-Men movie a disappointment, go back to 2001-2006 and tell me how you feel about Cyclops and all the other misused X-Men. That in itself was a huge disappointment, apart from the original trilogy. But since Bryan Singer was the one responsible for ALL these X-Men films, I could say that this is his redemption. Forget about Anna Paquin and Halle Berry and James Marsden. We’ve now found the perfect people who could define these characters in the big screen for years to come.

Again, X-Men Apocalypse is not just your typical X-Men movie. It’s the end the origin trilogy; but the beginning of the X-Men Cinemaverse.

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