Don’t expect this movie to rely heavily on the source material. Director Bryan Singer presents a film that’s a hodge-podge of various stories made up by people who know nothing about the X-Men. Aside from Quicksilver (Evan Peters), Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee), and Apocalypse (Oscar Issac, doing well with whatever the hell he is given) being mildly entertaining, they can’t save the film from imploding. Everyone else is either used as filler or bores you to death with their on-screen presence. Choppy action scenes are put in place to mask the uninteresting, underdeveloped characters, cheesy dialogue, Playstation 2-quality special effects, and makeup that looks like it was bought from the bargain bin at Chapel Hill Beauty Supply. The worst part is the newcomers don’t get their chance to shine like the trailer would have you believe. Particularly the characters of color.
I’m not going to waste any time. I am going to just spell it all out for you. But I want you to form your own opinion. See the film for yourself, you might like it. There will probably be spoilers sprinkled throughout, so don’t read if you don’t want to know because I’m about to throw shade…
First of all, Fox can start by renaming this film X-Men: The Mystique Power-Hour. Once again Mystique (lazily played by Jennifer Lawrence) is the central hero. In this role, she is less like Mystique and more like Katniss Everdeen in blue makeup. It’s clear J-Law is bored and just wants to move on. Who are we to stop her?
Trust me, I want her gone. In both X-Men: Days of Future Past and X-Men: Apocalypse, she doesn’t capture the true essence of Mystique: the bad ass, shape-shifting, back-stabbing assassin (once played fabulously by Rebecca Romijn).
The surprise of it all is she is looked up to by the students of the Xavier school as a hero. Folks, Ororo Monroe, aka Storm, actually looks at a picture of Mystique and utters the words, “She’s my hero.”
Great, so Bryan Singer and company have activated their diversity decoder rings and traded hero and leader white man Wolverine (Huge Jackman) for white/blue whatever woman Mystique. I guess this is so Jennifer Lawrence can have some screen time?! White woman to the rescue!!! Unfortunately, this is at the cost of the cast of newcomers. They are out-shined by recurring actors when the younger generation should be the focus.
That brings me to my next point: the new generation. That includes Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Cyclops (Tye Sheridan), Nightcrawler (Smit-McPhee), and Jubilee (Lana Condor). There are also new villains Psylocke (Olivia Munn) and Angel (Ben Hardy). I’m going to be straight up and say I was interested in seeing my girls Storm, Jubilee, and Psylocke get their shine on. The X-Men Apocalypse trailers led me to believe I was going to see some superheroes and villains of color finally make an impact in the X-Men cinematic universe. SIKE! You thought that was the outcome. Aside from Oscar Issac as Apocalypse, you don’t see much of the ladies of color. They are there to fill diversity quotas and nothing more. Let me elaborate…
You know Storm was never a horseman to begin with, but I accepted this as her segue into the present cinematic storyline. She is given an infinite amount of power by Apocalypse only for her to barely use it. Actress Alexandra Shipp is pretty good in the role, but she has very little lines, and she isn’t given enough time to make a lasting impression. She just stands there as Apocalypse’s arm candy, a Mystique worshiper, and not much else. No development as a character. Nothing. She pretty much got Halle Buried.
Next is Psylocke. Poor Olivia Munn. All of this fuss about her in the role, doing her own stunts, with sword and fight training, only to be reduced to filler with almost no lines and very little to do. She does get the opportunity to display her powers, but in the end gets her ass handed to her by Beast… BEAST y’all. Fox would have you believe this mutant with high-level combat training and POWERFUL telepathic powers gets whipped by Beast. After her beating, she just runs off. HUH? Is the coming back? Like what happened?!
Lastly, there is Jubilee. Nothing happens with her. She’s not a part of the Jean/Scott/Nightcrawler hero crew like the behind the scenes footage and trailers would have you believe. X-Men: Apocalypse is a 2-1/2 hour movie, but Jubilee shows up three times, has almost no lines, and the audience doesn’t see her use her powers at all. She doesn’t even show up to the final battle, she just gets left behind with the rest of the students. Had the character been left out of the film, it wouldn’t have made a difference. In fact, I don’t even remember anyone calling her by name. I guess you should just know who she is.
When this disastrous movie-going experience was over I had to ask myself, is this progress for people of color? Is just showing up the type of representation we want? Some people may think this is just another complaint about race in film, but IDGAF. We’ve got to want more than that. I put this question out to some friends on social media and for me the best responses came from Jamie Broadnax of Black Girl Nerds and NYC Film Chick via twitter:
The NYC Film Chick (@TheNYCFilmChick) May 10, 2016
It’s time to change directors. Bryan Singer has done enough, and it’s time for him to move on. He wouldn’t know representation and diversity if it jumped and slapped him in the face anyway. We want proper representation. We want characters that grow and change with the story. We are more than just props to fill studio quotas.
If studios don’t want to include us in the proper fashion, that’s fine, they don’t have to. But they should be forewarned that the cash they want so badly from us as an audience will be withheld. Change is only going to come if we know what we want and when and how we want it. Until then Hollywood is just going to keep baiting us with bullshit like X-Men: Apocalypse. Stand your ground and demand better!