Sunday, July 24, 2016

Star Trek Beyond

STAR TREK BEYOND

** SPOILERS **

Find Hope in the Impossible

It's been a long road, getting from there to here. After being thrown together in a breakneck, timeline-altering adventure in JJ Abrams' rebooted Star Trek, and then weathering a grim downer in the maligned Star Trek Into Darkness, the young crew of the Starship Enterprise hit their stride in the pleasing and triumphant Star Trek Beyond. Helmed by Justin Lin and co-written by Simon Pegg, who pulls double duty as miracle-working engineer Montgomery Scott, Star Trek Beyond boldly goes where Star Trek has gone many, many times before: an edge-of-your-seat, by the book space adventure, but this time with an exemplary emphasis on the characters and their relationships, gleaning abundant warmth and humor while Captain Kirk and his crew once again save the universe. 

Winking at the "episodic" nature of life aboard the Starship Enterprise, Star Trek Beyond opens three years into their five year mission. Exploring strange new worlds and seeking out new life and new civilizations can get banal, apparently, and a spacedock in the magnificent new Starbase, the Yorktown, finds Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) looking to move on up to a Vice Admiralship. Meanwhile, Spock (Zachary Quinto) receives tragic news: his older doppelganger from the original timeline Ambassador Spock (Leonard Nimoy) has died. Spock, also facing the end of his relationship with Uhura (Zoe Saldana), decides to leave Starfleet to continue the older Spock's work. The specter of death looms over Star Trek Beyond, both intentionally, as the movie outright and perhaps heavy handedly addresses the loss of Leonard Nimoy, and unexpectedly, with the heartbreaking recent death of Anton Yelchin, who vibrantly plays Pavel Chekov. Before the Captain and First Officer of the Enterprise can part ways, they are recruited into one more rescue mission in an uncharted nebula. Of course, it's a disaster.

Attacked by an unknown alien vessel, using thousands of mechanical bees to disable the Enterprise, the crew is forced to abandon ship. Just as in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, the Enterprise is destroyed in this Star Trek 3, with the saucer section crash landing on a rocky alien planet just like the Enterprise-D did in Star Trek Generations. With most of the crew captured and the bridge crew separated, Kirk, Spock, Dr. McCoy (Karl Urban), Scotty, Chekov, Uhura, and Mr. Sulu (John Cho) must find a way to reunite, get off the planet, and solve the mystery of their new enemy Krall (Idris Elba), a fearsome warrior with a murderous beef against the United Federation of Planets. They're alternately betrayed and aided by two very cool female additions to the cast, the duplicitous Kalara (Lydia Wilson) and the resourceful Jaylah (Sofia Boutella). Both women are caked in alien makeup, yet create fetching, appealing performances, especially Boutella, a scene-stealer as Jaylah. What transpires are classic Trek moments: phaser shoot outs, betrayals, last second rescues, manic space battles, a motorcycle chase, and that time-honored Star Trek standby, Starfleet Officers sleeping in caves. Just like in Star Trek First Contact, our heroes use "classical music" to amusing, Kirk-smirking, eye-rolling effect, as the Beastie Boys' "Sabotage" returns in a callback to the 2009 film.  Both the Enterprise crew and Krall's alien forces are after a MacGuffan, a disc that allows the holder to control the mechanical swarm of bees, but it seemed like Krall was doing just fine making the bees do his bidding without it. 

Rife with Trek references, Easter eggs, and in-jokes, it's a bit shocking how much of Star Trek Beyond's plot points are derived from and driven by the prequel series Star Trek Enterprise. The starship crashed on the alien planet that Kirk, Scotty, and crew salvage and use to escape is an NX-class ship, the same ship class as the Enterprise that Scott Bakula captained. It turns out Krall is actually a long-lived and mutated former M.A.C.O., the pre-Federation space marines that used to serve as ground troops on Bakula's Enterprise. There are references to the Xindi (season two of Star Trek Enterprise) and the Romulan War. Even the blue Away Team jackets and uniforms Kirk and Chekov wear (the costumes in Beyond are the best ever in any Star Trek movie) look like a fashionable evolution from the blue Star Trek Enterprise jumpsuits. In-depth knowledge of Star Trek Enterprise isn't necessary to enjoy Star Trek Beyond, but there are enough Easter eggs here to fill a carton.

Though many of the plot points feel like Star Trek Redundant, the cosmic joy of Star Trek Beyond is spending time with these characters we love and who clearly love each other. Pegg and his co-writer Doug Jung exhibit a thorough grasp of the characters and what makes them tick. For his third outing as Kirk, Pine is more mature and disciplined, much less the irritable hothead of movies past. (It's Kirk's birthday, just like it was in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, where Kirk (is he even 40 yet?) laments getting old.) McCoy spends a great deal of screen time caring for an injured Spock, the two friendly rivals commiserating on the abundant respect for each other they are at pains to admit. Scotty and Jaylah form a sweet bond, as she slowly grows to trust these strange men who are sincerely trying to stop the villains who murdered her father and her people. Uhura and Sulu, captured by Krall, nonetheless exhibit bravery and resourcefulness in trying to learn his motivations and keep their fellow captured crew mates safe. And it's gratifying to see Yelchin's Chekov be part of so much of the action alongside Kirk. The end credits fittingly dedicate the film to the late Leonard Nimoy and #ForAnton.

In the end, Star Trek Beyond can best be appreciated as a metaphor for life. Life can be good, things can be going well, safe, happy, routine -- and then disaster! What do you do? Don't be afraid. Be brave. You trust your crew. You trust your Captain. You trust your skills. You trust yourself. You stand together. There's strength in Unity. You find Hope in the Impossible. These are the important lessons that Star Trek can teach us, when Star Trek is done well. Star Trek Beyond is Star Trek done very well. Even with the vaccuum the late Yelchin leaves going forward, we hope the crew of the Starship Enterprise continues to boldly go where no one has gone before. To echo Kirk to his best friend Spock, "What would we do without you?"

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Ghostbusters

GHOSTBUSTERS

** SPOILERS **

Paul Feig's Ghostbusters is something strange in the neighborhood. Casting four of today's funniest comediennes, Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones, as the new all-female Ghostbusters, Feig and his co-writer Katie Dippold, hang them out to dry by crafting a goofball comedy as unwieldy and erratic as the proton streams that generate from their proton packs. The story, of course, is mainly identical to the 1984 original: strange supernatural occurrences infect Manhattan. Odd ball scientists and childhood friends-turned-rivals Wiig and McCarthy investigate, with McKinnon, a physicist and handy inventor, in tow. Soon, after copious amounts of sliming, they discover ghosts are real. Shunned by academia, they are joined by Jones, an MTA employee chased by a ghost in the sewer, and the four women go into business for themselves as the Ghostbusters.

Despite a spiritedly funny opening scene where Zach Woods gives a tour of a haunted Manhattan mansion, Ghostbusters quickly goes as limp as the lone wonton in the Chinese soup McCarthy complains about in her main running gag. The Ghostbusters gradually stumble upon a meandering plot by an utterly forgettable and uninteresting villain to open up the ley lines beneath Manhattan and bring forth supernatural evil, or something. Though the entire city of New York is threatened, Ghostbusters lacks any urgency or palpable stakes. Scenes and entire sequences feel hacked and slashed, the movie assembled in editing like a jigsaw puzzle smashed together by a child having a temper tantrum. Wiig and McCarthy are basically interchangeable characters whose initial disconnect after a falling out is quickly forgotten. Jones rises to the occasion, bringing some sense of fear and disbelief when confronted with terrifying apparitions. Meanwhile, there's McKinnon, delivering an oddball performance completely disconnected from every scene in the movie she occupies. 

Feig pays laborious homage to the original Ghostbusters, with dutiful but infernal cameos by every surviving cast member from 1984 save Rick Moranis. Ghastly appearances by an unsightly CGI Slimer and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man garner the effect of checking them off a list. The inimitable talents of Michael Kenneth Williams of The Wire and Charles Dance of Game of Thrones are utterly wasted in little more than walk ons. Until he starts dancing for no reason into and throughout the end credits, Chris Hemsworth scores the biggest laughs, outshining all of the Saturday Night Live professional comediennes, as the Ghostbusters' dim bulb secretary. For all the abuse they unfairly attracted and continue to from the dregs of society (some of it cannily referenced in the movie), the all-female Ghostbusters deserved a better written, better directed, better edited, better structured, better movie in which to bust ghosts.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Legend of Tarzan

THE LEGEND OF TARZAN

** SPOILERS **

"This is most peculiar," a young Jane Porter (Margot Robbie) remarks when, lost exploring the wilds of the African Congo with her scientist father, she encounters an equally young Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgard). Certainly, what are the odds a beautiful blonde, blue-eyed American woman would meet the love of her life, a beautiful blonde, blue eyed British Lord raised by gorillas in the jungles of Africa? (Although Jane was specifically referring to Tarzan dropping to all fours and sniffing her crotch. Tarzan's got game with the ladies.) Years later, Tarzan and Jane are happily married, living in his ancestral castle in England as Lord and Lady Greystoke. Tarzan, you see, was born John Clayton III, Earl of Greystoke, but he was stranded in the Congo as an infant when his parents were killed. Baby John was adopted by a gorilla named Kala and raised among the apes. He gained mastery over the animals and was given the name Tarzan (not by the apes, obviously). Tarzan and Jane is quite a story, one that would be the basis of pulp tales that would enthrall the 19th century world ("Him Tarzan, you Jane" is quoted right back to their faces). 

Civilized, Lord Greystoke is quiet and thoughtful, the wildness in him subdued. But international politics and the machinations of Christoph Waltz, would lure Tarzan back to the jungle. Waltz, an envoy of King Leopold II of Belgium, schemes to save the bankrupt Belgium government by extracting the diamonds of the Congo, which are controlled by tribal leader Djimon Hounsou. Hounsou will give Waltz the diamonds if he delivers his arch enemy, Tarzan. Tarzan killed Hounsou's son, you see, because Hounsou's son killed Tarzan's mother. Not his human mother, his ape mother. Jungle life is sordid and complicated. Nonetheless, Tarzan and Jane, with Samuel L. Jackson, an American envoy investigating the rumored shady dealings of the Belgian government in the Congo, march right into a trap set by Waltz. Tarzan is easily captured and hogtied; Jackson manages to rescue him while Waltz flees with a kidnapped Jane. Thus begins a merry chase through the jungle as Tarzan tries to save Jane, trapped aboard Waltz's steam ship. Waltz would soon come to regret trying to hold Jane hostage, however. She's cunning, brave, and has wildness in her to match her husband.

Speaking of wildness, Bane in The Dark Knight Rises would remark that civilization has defeated Tarzan, and he'd have a point. As Tarzan sheds his clothing (keeping his torn khakis on rather than donning the traditional loincloth), he must Tarzan-up and re-embrace his full Tarzanity. For most of the movie, Tarzan has a rough time of it. He loses a wrestling match with a gorilla and readjusting to savage jungle life is more difficult than he anticipated. (Jackson managing to keep pace with Tarzan in the jungle without being killed requires the most suspension of disbelief, in a movie that is essentially all about suspension of disbelief.) Still, Tarzan becomes wilder and wilder the closer he gets to Jane, and soon, he fully embraces his status as being Lord of the Jungle, master of all CGI animals, able to command legions of computer generated beasts to do his bidding. Much like he did in the last four Harry Potter films he helmed, director David Yates bleeds much of the color from the jungle, and his CGI animals reek of pixels. Skarsgard makes for a physical, visceral Tarzan, and the camera simply loves Robbie. The Legend of Tarzan is replete with thrilling jungle fights, but the touching moments mostly involve Tarzan rubbing his head against people and beasts he loves, like a pride of lions he'd known since they were cubs, or Robbie herself. Amusingly, The Legend of Tarzan's take on 19th century European politics curiously reflects modern day, as England realizes the duplicity stemming from Brussels and decides to #Brexit from their joint affairs in the Congo. As coincidences go, that's pretty wild.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Independence Day: Resurgence

INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE

** SPOILERS **

How can the same thing happen to the same planet twice? Independence Day: Resurgence sees our bright blue orb invaded once again by aliens twenty years later -- to the day! A lot has changed on Earth in the two decades since those aliens blasted all of our landmarks, humanity fought back and we celebrated our Independence Day. The salvaged alien technology from the many ships crashed on Earth has been rejiggered into impressive new weapons and vehicles. Our cities and landmarks have been rebuilt. We have a lunar base. A generation has grown up admiring the heroes of 1996, like Jeff Goldblum, former President Bill Pullman, and the late Will Smith, gone but not forgotten. Their children, Jessie T. Usher as Will Smith's son and Maika Monroe as Pullman's daughter, now grown, are the new top gun fighter pilots ready to defend the Earth, along with Liam Hemsworth, Rain Lao, and Nicholas Wright. Mankind has become a united species, the kind of Utopia Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry would have loved to see. Humanity has banded together, ready to meet the threat of a second alien invasion. And the aliens are definitely coming; apparently they (like we) have spent the last two decades hearing and memorizing Pullman's rousing speech from the first Independence Day.

So the aliens are back, and they're not wasting any time. In the original Independence Day, dozens of alien ships ominously took position over Earth's cities and systematically annihilated each one over the course of a three day holiday weekend (2 1/2 hours in movie time). Now, the aliens only send one ship, a titanic craft 3000 miles in diameter that squats over the Atlantic Ocean, wiping out the UK and the East Coast of the United States (amusingly only nudging the rebuilt White House). As far as mass destruction of our cities go, only London really gets demolished; the aliens gave the Brits no time to #Brexit before their annihilation. Compared to the original movie, the destruction porn in Resurgence is quick and subdued. The aliens are way more interested in settling a score with specific humans, launching a direct attack on the new President Sela Ward, and then coming after Goldblum and Pullman in their base in Area 51. The aliens must have been bummed (like we are) Will Smith isn't around; they probably wanted to settle his hash the most.

"We knew they'd come back," Goldblum warns when things start to get weird again. The aliens captured and imprisoned in Area 51 for the last 20 years start to go batty and then break out. (Incidentally, why did the humans imprison the aliens without removing them from their tentacled battle suits?) Pullman, bearded, hobbled, and haunted by visions of the aliens (and possibly visions of the movie Aliens) rants about the aliens having a Queen. He's right, they do. And she's pissed. Scientist-weirdo Dr. Okun (Brent Spiner, unapologetically in zany comic relief mode), thought dead in the first Independence Day, was actually in a coma all this time, and suddenly reawakens. In Africa, the lone alien ship from the first invasion that is largely intact comes back online. Goldblum realizes it's drilling into the Earth's core to destroy the planet from within. When a worm hole opens up above the moon, our swaggering leaders order the emerging alien craft shot down, but Goldblum quickly surmises this new white spherical space ship is a different alien species and leads the attempt to rescue it. Turns out Goldblum is right, as ever. The white alien sphere represents other species the evil aliens, now called Harvesters (Mankind never named the aliens themselves in the last 20 years), have hunted. All the other aliens also heard about the first Independence Day and want the human race to lead their alliance to fight the aliens -- in space!

But first, there's the matter of repelling this new invasion. Once again, it involves a battle in the air and on land in the salt flats outside Area 51, and once again, Bill Pullman pilots a fighter plane and leads the charge against his now-arch rival the alien Queen. This time, however, the Queen, clad in a 50 foot tall battle suit, fights back like a Kaiju monster; Independence Day: Resurgence riffing hard on Pacific Rim. Luckily, a sword-wielding African warlord Goldblum befriended, one of the many new weirdo characters Resurgence introduces, teaches humanity how to beat the aliens in their battle suits -- by stabbing them in the back. Fitting. Hemsworth, Usher (who's really more like his mother Vivica A. Fox than his dad in the charisma department), and Monroe, fight the aliens heroically, but this new generation is of a blander sort than their parents. Speaking of parents, Goldblum's father Judd Hirsch drives a school bus full of orphans right into the Area 51 battle, because of course he does. While promising a starry-eyed continuation of this franchise, Independence Day: Resurgence echoes the greatest hits of the original, but it's a rushed, tepid remix reminding us that though we always knew the aliens would be back someday, we also rather they just stayed away.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Shallows

THE SHALLOWS

** SPOILERS **

The Shallows, director Jaume Collet-Serra's sun-kissed, bloody good Blue Crush-meets-Jaws mashup thriller, is Blake Lively's The Revenant. In The Shallows, Lively plays a medical student mourning the death of her mother by escaping to surf the unnamed Mexican beach her mother once surfed. Though her journey to this spectacular paradise (the name of the beach is assiduously guarded by the locals), mildly echos a different Leonardo DiCaprio movie, The Beach, soon Lively is pitted body and soul against the ocean's most ferocious killing machine. There's a Great White shark in them there waters, and it's hell bent on taking Blake's livelihood in a manner even the bear DiCaprio fought in The Revenant wasn't. This damn shark wants Blake Lively to be his chum, and not in a friendly way.

Like DiCaprio in The Revenant, Lively endures a physical and emotional hell in her efforts to survive. When the shark attacks Lively and soon makes shark meat out of the two other surfers she befriended, Lively's only recourse is to take refuge on a jagged, shallow reef 200 yards from shore. Time is against her. High tide will once again submerge her meager shelter. She's exposed to the elements. And she's grievously injured; beyond multiple cuts and abrasions, the shark chomped on her leg. Gangrene threatens to set in. Pleasingly, Lively is no damsel in distress. Through up against impossible odds, Lively gathers her wits and thinks her way out of her dilemma. She uses her medical training and her earrings to rather gruesomely suture her wounds. She uses her Body Glove to create a tourniquet. She even sets the broken wing of her lone companion, a scene-stealing seagull she names Steven Seagull. (Lively uses Steven Seagull as a decoy kind of like how Batman uses Robin.) As Lively's options narrow, the shark remains relentlessly on patrol, drawn to the steady streams of Lively's blood in the water.

When the shark enters a realm of sheer malevolence that goes beyond what one would believe even a hungry Great White would actually do, The Shallows, which had remained mostly compellingly straightforward, teeters on the brink of jumping the shark in the third act. As high tide takes her reef under, Lively's last desperate gambit is to swim to a nearby buoy. The shark's dogged pursuit has it literally tearing through the metal of the buoy in order to sink its teeth in Lively. And yet, Lively's last ditch maneuver to kill the shark, while sheer lunacy, is surprisingly rousing. On screen for nearly every second of the entire movie, Lively gives a heroic - nay, superheroic - performance. As physically perfect as she is when The Shallows begins, Lively, broken, bleeding, exhausted, and nearly drowned, achieves an awesome level of total bad assery in her climactic showdown with the shark. Even if one in jest were to command,"Physician, CPR thyself," to the shark's chagrin, Blake Lively does. The shark bet on Blake losing the dead pool, but it was sorely mistaken.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Game of Thrones: How I'd Invade Westeros in 8 Easy Steps

GAME OF THRONES: 
HOW I'D INVADE WESTEROS IN 8 EASY STEPS

This is Westeros. My favorite place on Earth, or, whatever planet this is. I'm now to going to plot its invasion. If I'm planning Daenerys' invasion and conquest of Westeros, this is what I would advise my Khaleesi to do:

Step 1: Take Dragonstone. Symbolically, the Targaryen seat. Establish a secure base. Also, no one is there. No resistance.

Step 2: Take Storm's End. Is anyone there? Is there even a House Baratheon anymore? Control the Usurper's keep south of King's Landing.

Step 3: Parley with the Eyrie. Unholy alliance with Littlefinger, but secure the loyalty of the Knights of the Vale. 


Step 4 & 5: Parley with Highgarden. No loyalty to the Lannisters there. Then send the dragons with the Ironborn to retake Pyke.


Step 6: Finally, invade and take King's Landing. Secure the Iron Throne. The Lannisters can flee to Casterly Rock or die. They'll flee.


Step 7: When they get to Casterly Rock, they'll find the western seas are controlled by the Ironborn. Take the Riverlands by conquest.


Step 8: And that's it. Finish the Lannisters off. Get the North and Dorne to bend the knee. Then we all die at the hands of the White Walkers. Easy!


Friday, May 27, 2016

X-Men: Apocalypse

X-MEN: APOCALYPSE

** SPOILERS **

X-Men: Apocalypse's mutant power is an overwhelming sense of deja vu. When En Sabah Nur (Oscar Isaac), the first, handsomest (until he turns blue), and most powerful mutant known as Apocalypse, awakens from a 3600 year slumber, he plunges the X-Men into an adventure where they end up doing a lot of things they've done in prior X-Men movies. Stop me if you've heard this before: Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) is kidnapped and held hostage for his mutant psychic abilities. The X-Men are captured and brought to a base in Alkali Lake, where Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) was created. Wolverine goes into a beserker rage, carving up the troops of his arch nemesis William Stryker (Josh Helman) with his adamantium claws. (All greatest hits from X2: X-Men United.) Xavier and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) take turns quoting their closing dialogue from the first X-Men movie 16 years ago (which is, confusingly, 17 years in the future from this episode, set in 1983). And there's all the usual stuff to X off the list in an X-Men movie: new students joining Charles Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters, visits to Cerebro underneath the X-Mansion, and plenty of callbacks to stuff that happened in X-Men: First Class, which happened 20 years prior to the events in Apocalypse, though nary an X-Man or anyone else in that movie has aged a day. (Xavier makes mention of non-mutant Moira MacTaggert's, played by Rose Byrne, uncanny ability to look exactly as young 20 years later, and the movie moves on.) On the other hand, an X-Men comics tradition finally occurs in a movie when the X-Mansion is destroyed. Luckily, Magneto and young Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) have the mutant power to be contractors.

Working from a screenplay from Simon Kinberg that crams a ton of mutants into an under cooked tale, director Bryan Singer busily checks in with the exploits of his ever-growing, under-serviced cast of mutants. X-Men: Apocalypse tells us that Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence, not feeling the blues and spending most of the movie looking like her movie star self) has become a mutant folk hero since the climactic moments of X-Men: Days of Future Past, when she saved President Richard Nixon from Magneto in 1973. Lots of young mutants have her poster on their wall, including a young Storm (Alexandra Shipp), who lives as a sneak thief in Cairo, Egypt. Other than recruit a young Nightcrawler (Kodi Smith-McPhee) and bring him to Xavier's School, Mystique has precious little to do in the movie, except fail to sweet talk Magneto from destroying Cairo, get choked by Apocalypse, and then become the X-Men's drill sergeant. Mystique does find time to make jokes to Beast (Nicholas Hoult) about getting a "War Plane," a canny reference to Hoult starring as a War Boy in Mad Max: Fury Road. We meet young Cyclops (Tye Sheridan), the newest student at the Xavier School, who's just learning to control his mutant optic blasts. Cyclops in turn meets Jean Grey, the future love of his life, and host of the all-powerful Phoenix Force, which Apocalypse shoehorns in as another major plot point, setting up a second swipe at telling the "Dark Phoenix Saga" in a future X-Men movie.

When Apocalypse awakens, like Ivan Ooze did in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie, he finds he missed the Black Plague, the Spanish Inquisition, and the Brady Bunch Reunion. Like Ivan Ooze, he finds the modern world wanting, and decides to destroy it, so he can rule it, or something. Apocalypse's logic is hazy and he's not much more than a collection of villainous platitudes. Unlike Ivan Ooze, Apocalypse isn't funny and he isn't much for idle chatter when he recruits his helpers, the Four Horsemen, who are Magneto, Storm, the metal-winged Angel (Ben Hardy), and the ridiculously hot Psylocke (Olivia Munn), who makes purple telekinetic swords and whips. To work for Apocalypse means a lot of standing around and not saying anything, hence the Horsemen turn out to be as dull and uninspiring as their leader. Apocalypse steals the world's nuclear missiles, thousands of them, and strands them all in space; an idea Superman (Christopher Reeve) wouldn't have until 1987 in Superman IV. But mainly, Apocalypse just wants to kill everyone. He's cool with the strongest mutants surviving. If any of this sounds like a good idea or not to Storm, Psylocke, Magneto, or Angel, they don't vocalize it. Turns out Apocalypse, with his ill-defined mutant powers of teleportation and making walls consume people like they're frozen in carbonite, is the shits as a world conqueror. What Apocalypse is great at, however, is designing super villain costumes. He personally gifts his Horsemen with new duds, and they all look smashing (especially Psylocke). Apocalypse could have been the mutant Tom Ford, but alas, he thinks too small.

Like the Johnny Appleseed of mutants, Magneto has been spreading his seed around, not just fathering Quicksilver (Evan Peters), who, like in Days of Future Past, steals the show with his speed but in a sequence that is somehow both more elaborate and perfunctory, but also having a new family in Poland, where he works in a steel mill. Having gone completely apeshit in 1963 and 1973, Magneto is right on schedule with his homicidal tantrums when he is discovered by local authorities who murder his family. Once more, an X-Men movie becomes about saving Erik's soul, and saving the world from scary Erik, until Charles is able to remind Erik of their bromance and he finally calms down. So Erik's good for another decade, all pals with Charles and Mystique again at the conclusion of Apocalypse until his next inevitable meltdown in 1993. As for Charles, perhaps the strangest choice in Apocalypse turns out to be the secret origin of how Xavier loses his hair: Apocalypse trying to transfer his consciousness into the world's most powerful psychic somehow snatched Xavier's edges bald. Did Apocalypse realize if he'd succeeded, he'd have been in the body of a paraplegic? No matter, he's probably got a mutant power for that.

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