Tuesday, May 31, 2016

X-Men: Apocalypse (Rhoades)

Front Row at the Movies

“X-Men: Apocalypse” Looks at First Mutant
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

Marvel keeps cranking them out. Fanboys and geeks (as followers are known in the comic book world) aren’t complaining.

The new superhero blockbuster “X-Men: Apocalypse” completes the trilogy of films by Bryan Singer telling the beginnings of the mutants. “X-Men: First Class” and “X-Men: Days of Future Past” were the first two in this arc.

 Here we meet the world’s first mutant, an Egyptian ruler named En Sabah Nur. When his worshippers turn against him, he is entombed for thousands of years. Awakened in 1983, he assumes the villainous role of Apocalypse, who decides to destroy the world and remake it.

Apocalypse puts together a new Four Horsemen team comprised of mutants: Famine (Storm), Pestilence (Psylocke), Death (Angel), and War (Magneto).

Apocalypse kidnaps Professor Xavier in order to tap into his mental powers, in the process destroying the School for Gifted Youngsters. Several of the young mutants get mistakenly arrested and sent to the Weapons X facility. The trick is getting loose to face off against Apocalypse and his Four Horsemen.

All your favorite X-Men are here in their younger incarnations: Professor X (James McAvoy), Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), Cyclops (Tye Sheridan), Phoenix (Sophie Turner), Beast (Nicholas Hoult), Havok (Lucas Till), Quicksilver (Evan Peters), Jubilee (Lana Condor), and Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee). Even Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) makes an appearance.

En Sabah Nur A/K/A Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) and his Four Horsemen -- Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Psylocke (Olivia Munn), Angel (Ben Hardy), and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) -- are on hand to cause global destruction.

Stan Lee makes his customary cameo.

“X-Men: Apocalypse” is currently doing battle at Tropic Cinema.

Back when I was publisher of Marvel, then-editor-in-chief Bob Harras described Apocalypse: “The name is dynamic. It tells you right off this character means trouble. And he came with a clear-cut agenda: ‘survival of the fittest.’ He didn't care if you were a mutant -- if you were weak, you would be destroyed. He was merciless, but his philosophy was easy to grasp and it fit in with the harder edge of evolution which is part and parcel of the mutant story. Isn’t that what humans fear about mutants? That they are the next step? Now, we had given mutants something new to fear: a character who would judge them on their genetic worthiness.”

Critics are judging “X-Men: Apocalypse” on its cinematic worthiness. This is the ninth X-Men film, designed to set up a new Wolverine outing and a Gambit movie. It’s a tossup, ranking 52 (out of 100) on Rotten Tomatoes. San Francisco Chronicle calls it “a thinking person’s action movie.” Akron Beacon Journal describes it as “an overly familiar reworking of superhero-movie ideas, especially the seemingly all-powerful villain confronted by a group of flawed heroes.”

Stan Lee told me he created the X-Men as a plea for tolerance -- people different from us, trying to save us even though we hate and fear them.

Overly familiar? For my nickel, that’s a story worth retelling over and over again.


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