X-Men 6: Apocalypse (2016, Bryan Singer)

At a time when movies are dominated by comics, Bryan Singer’s got a franchise all to himself. He directed parts 1 and 2, cowrote and produced part 4, directed parts 5 and 6… and had nothing to do with part 3. “At least we can all agree: the third one‘s always the worst,” says Jean Grey leaving a Return of the Jedi screening, establishing our mid-1980’s setting while letting us know Singer’s thoughts on the Brett Ratner entry. Soon after, Quicksilver tells someone that Magneto is his father, and I can’t tell if we’re still making Star Wars references.

Quicksilver:

Quicksilver and Nightcrawler in the same movie is a dream come true – every time they warp through time and space it’s thrilling. The Professor X vs. Magneto thing is old hat by now, nobody cares about Agent Rose Byrne, Beast is okay and Mystique is blah. Oscar Isaac appears as his unconscious self for ten seconds before becoming Apocalypse and ceasing to be Oscar Isaac completely – it’s either an immersive performance or a total waste of a promising young actor in a role that could’ve been played by a CG-enhanced mannequin. As always, the ending hinges on whether Magneto is truly evil or can be convinced to compromise.

Apocalypse and his Horsemen: Storm, Angel, and this lightsaber girl, the fourth horseman being Magneto, who becomes evil again out of rage when his perfect wife and kid are murdered by some doomed motherfuckers in Poland where he’s hiding out after whatever happened in part four.

Since I don’t rewatch the movies and the first one was nearly two decades ago, it’s hard to keep track of all the characters and timelines and paradoxes, but I assume the writers have this stuff taken care of, and the fact that Angel dies in 1984 but is back in part three (?) makes sense to someone. Also, I keep seeing Jubilee in the credits for X-Men movies – who the hell is Jubilee?

Sophie Turner (Game of Thrones) is Young Jean Grey, seen here with Young Cyclops (Tye Sheridan of Mud) and Beast:

I notice Days of Future Past and this movie bringing back Stryker (Brian Cox’s character in part two) as a minor baddie, and I assume he’s the tie-in to the solo Wolverine films, none of which I’ve seen. And coincidentally, the week after watching this movie I saw a trailer for the third one of those, Logan, which looks awful.

Some uncomfortable politics as usual, bringing up Auschwitz yet again, and having a middle-eastern villain watching American news footage of 1980’s decadence and decrying our false idols and weak leaders. Also Professor X’s chamber where he can spy on the thoughts of anyone in the world hasn’t aged so well. Better to focus on the series’ overall focus on acceptance of difference, but even that has taken a back seat to the action scenes since part two.

X-Men 5: Days of Future Past (2014, Bryan Singer)

Wow, not only was this a return to the high quality of the second film, it also justifies the existence of the boring fourth film and goes back in time to erase the events of the stupid third film, single-handedly resurrecting the franchise from mediocrity. Actually I’m not positive about the order of events of the older movies and how this time travel affects them, but in the repaired future, Wolverine is happy to see Cyclops and Jean alive again and didn’t they die in part 3? Anyway this is the most excited I’ve felt about comic movies since 2004.

So in a future run by mutant-killing Sentinels, a small team survives by having Ellen Page send Bishop (Omar Sy of Intouchables) back in time a few days to warn when the sentinels are approaching. Wolverine (alongside Old X/Magneto) thinks he can be sent back further, so he heads for the 1970’s to reunite Young X/Magneto and keep Mystique from killing Sentinel architect Peter Dinklage, and maybe convince the scared humans that some mutants are alright and shouldn’t all be exterminated.

Prison guard vs. Quicksilver and a few rolls of duct tape:

Who Were All Those Mutants:
Beast returns from the prequel, but Azazel, Banshee, Angel and I think either Frost or Riptide have already been killed in backstory. Survivors in the sentinel-future include good ol’ Storm, portal-creating Blink, knifey Warpath, fiery Sunspot, icy Iceman, and metal-skinned Colossus. I barely remember Iceman and Colossus from part 3, thought for a minute that they and Sunspot might be from the Fantastic Four. Helping break Magneto out of another non-metal prison is the great Quicksilver. Rogue wasn’t even in the movie, though she’s in the credits – I was hoping to watch the extended “rogue cut” in theatrical re-release but it’s apparently not playing here and I got impatient. Stryker is introduced in the 70’s, and Toad gets a small role.

Also: apparently 1970’s tech allowed for DNA proximity readers, giant non-metal robot creation, and unexplained combinations of DNA with the robots.

Trick ‘r Treat (2007, Michael Dougherty)

What if horror movies were less like the bulk of Night of the Demons (teens trapped in a haunted house) and more like the short bookend segments of Night of the Demons (grumpy man who puts razorblades in apples gets his just desserts)? This movie plays like a better-interwoven Creepshow anthology (even with the comic-book animated intro), different stories in the same town on Halloween night, jumping back and forth in time where they intersect. It picks up the torch that was dropped (and doused and buried) by Halloween III: Season of the Witch. I’m trying to say it was very good. Written and directed by a collaborator of Bryan Singer, who produced.

Another reason to cheer: the victims are all carefully chosen – they’re caught disrespecting the spirit of halloween, and get what’s coming to ’em. For instance, at the beginning a square-jawed guy (Tahmoh Penikett of the fake-Kubrick segment in Trapped Ashes) believes in the magic of halloween, has his house all decked out and just enjoyed the annual parade, but his hot pouty wife (Leslie Bibb, Brad Cooper’s girl in Midnight Meat Train) thinks halloween is dumb, and is thus murdered by an apple-headed troll with a jagged lollipop.

Dylan Baker (the child-rapist dad in Happiness) clearly has the best role as a high school principal who murders a shitty, greedy little student, then goes through an Unfaithfully Yours-style comic ordeal to dispose of the little guy. Dylan’s crabby, drunken neighbor Dr. Guggenheim (Brian Cox) just wants to be left alone, then is visited by the murderous troll. Rogue (Anna Paquin) is timidly trying to find a party date. And some kids recruit a nerdy girl in a witch hat to explore the quarry where legend says a school bus full of mental kids once plummeted. Predictably, in that story the dead return to kill the kids, who had been trying to prank the witch girl all along. But I didn’t foresee the sly ending to Dr. Guggenheim’s story (he was the bus driver). Most deliciously, Rogue is set up as victim to a black-robed vampire prowling the halloween parade, but she turns out to be a werewolf (heh, in red riding hood costume) and the vampire is just Dylan with false fangs.

X-Men (2000, Bryan Singer)

Same ol’ good ol’ movie. Gets better every time. This time paid close attention to: Halle Berry’s acting (not great), Rogue’s hair (you can kinda see it turn white if you pause on the statue of liberty scene), overall pacing, Magneto’s costume. Waffling on seeing X-Men 3 in theaters or at all.

X-Men