Saturday, May 28, 2016

X-Men: Apocalypse [2016]

MPAA (PG-13)  CNS/USCCB ()  ChicagoTribune (2.5 Stars) (1 Star)  AVClub (B-)  Fr. Dennis (2 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB (J. McAleer) review
ChicagoTribune (M. Phillips) review (A.J. Bastien) review
AVClub (I. Vishnevetsky) review  

If nothing else, X-Men: Apocalypse [2016] (directed by Bryan Singer, screenplay by Simon Kinberg, story byBryan Singer, Simon Kinberg, Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris) has produced some _excellent_ critical analysis (in the best sense of both words).  Honestly, Dear Readers, take a look at the reviews of both Bastien (of and Vishnevesky (of the A.V. Club) for this film.

Pretty much the whole "critics-sphere" has zeroed-in by now on the (quite large) Achilles Heel of the whole Super Hero genre -- the wanton and massive collateral destruction inflicted on humanity (us) by said "Super Heroes" even as they "save us" from "Super Villains" that somehow arise -- in this case an Ancient Egyptian Super-Mutant named En Sabah Nur a.k.a. Apocalypse [Mrvl] [IMDb] (played IMHO quite well / with appropriate regal panache "I am A GOD, wait, why aren't you worshiping me?" ;-) by a well-cast Oscar Isaac) literally buried _for Millennia_ under "The Sands of Time" -- with each installment.   Talk about a "love / hate" relationship ;-) ...

... And while I simply LOVE Magneto [Mrvl] [IMDb] (played since X-men: First Class [2011] by Michael Fassbender) -- I picked him as the Most Compelling (Male) Hero / Villain in my first, 2011, "Denny Awards" -- I wonder if Magneto would understand that he'd be really his own worst enemy.  Yes, one _totally gets_ his super-tragic back-story (In X-men: First Class [2011] he's _introduced_ to us as a survivor of Auschwitz and in the current episode, set in the early 1980s, he even tries to "put aside his super-powers" and "play it straight" by hiding as a humble "Lech Walesa-like" worker at a small Communist era Polish steel mill - only to _tragically_ lose his wife and daughter to a fearful bunch of "apparatchiks" / coworkers _anyway_).  BUT THERE'S SIMPLY NO WAY that humanity could put up with a man / mutant of his Power (moving / throwing about _anything metal_ ... from simple coins, to rockets / planes [in the first film], to buildings [in the second one], to the earth itself [in the current one]... at his whim) wreaking untold destruction on everyone around whenever he got (even _legitimately_) angry ...

So why the _need_ to "blow things up"? (or even the need to blow _so many things_ up?)

Well, we live in a post-9/11 world where we watched (at least those of us who were alive at the time), LIVE, at least two enormous skyscrapers be _blown up_ with _thousands of people_ killed still inside.  Then Auschwitz turned Pogroms (Evil already in their own right) into a horrifically-efficient _industrial_ slaughterhouse / crematorium operation (2015 Oscar winning "best foreign language film" Son of Saul [2015] portrays the _banging_ / clanging / _burning_ horror of the "day to day" operation of Auschwitz with truly infernal magnificence).   Jews (along with Gypsies) were shipped there to their deaths because they were considered "different from the norm" (religiously / ethnically considered to be "subhuman" that is to say ... "mutants").  Finally, a similar rage exists among homosexuals (also sent to concentration camps by the Nazis for "special treatment") and even women (thought of by "Nazis" - but really _all of humanity_ at its worst - previously as basically "breeding machines") over past crimes / mistreatment.

So the experience of watching the destruction wreaked by "mutants" in these X-men films is IMHO a conflicted one.  Perhaps MORE than in the case of OTHER "Superhero" scenarios -- be it Marvel Comic's Avenger Series, the "Batman v. Superman" DC Comics inspired universe or even the recent incarnation of the Star Trek series -- we _kinda understand_ the onscreen _rage_ / _violence_in the X-Men series and yet at the same time we remain disturbed by it. THERE OUGHT TO BE A WAY for "humans" and "mutants," to reconcile, forgive each other, and live together in peace.

... but it's clearly not easy.  Professor Charles Xavier [Mrvl] [IMDb] (from hence comes the "X" in "X-men" and played since X-men: First Class [2011] by James McAvoy) continually tries to find / "educate" the "mutants" he finds to help them understand / control their "powers" while also trying _really hard_ to dialogue with humanity so that it does not _fear them_ so, while above mentioned Magneto [Mrvl] [IMDb] tries above all to train "mutants" to "defend themselves" (or, in this film, just tries at least to defend himself / his family).  Neither option seems to work particularly well, though Xavier's would seem to be the long term better one.

But then seemingly "random events" arise -- like the waking-up of the above mentioned "Ancient Egyptian" super-hero/mutant En Sabah Nur a.k.a. Apocalypse [Mrvl] [IMDb] and everything "goes to Hell" again for a while with significant sections of the world, in the current case, Cairo, being seemingly wantonly destroyed.

Will it ever really calm down?  I suppose we'll see (or at some point we'll _stop watching_ ...).  Perhaps the X-Men universe stocked with _so many_ "super powerful" mutants / people will NEVER be able to be(come) calm.

And _perhaps_ the solution will come when a new (and more diverse) generation _of writers_ (let's face it, the "true Gods" in these stories ;-) will come on the scene and find _a new path_ that neither ProfessorX [Mrvl] [IMDb] nor Magneto [Mrvl] [IMDb] nor the present crop of writers of these tales have been able to discover.

Until then, probably the slaughter will continue ... until we just get tired of it and go on, ourselves, to something else.

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