During a period of extended illness in September, I took the chance to catch up with some of the worst crap Hollywood has inflicted on movie lovers this year.
I don’t go to movie theaters often, so when blockbuster season flares up like a case of cultural acne, I sit it out at home, safe in the comfort of my couch and movies I’m already pretty sure are not garbage. Yet despite all this, I am still an idiot teenager at heart, and given the chance I will sacrifice hours of my life on the altar of screaming, nonsensical CGI-extravaganzas. Let’s see how that turned out for me in 2016:
As the first pick in my flu-induced marathon, there was almost no way this movie could’ve disappointed me. The reviews seemed unanimous in condemning Warcraft as a soulless convoluted spectacle, and surely it was. But a few things made this a tolerable experience.
For one, I have hardly ever touched the Warcraft gaming universe, so there’s no beloved source material to live up to or let down in my mind. I played a bit of Warcraft 3 back in the day, and dipped my toe into WoW only because I felt ashamed for never having played it. I knew the basic gist of the story going in, and nothing else. This ambivalence plus the film’s poor reception combined to produce some impossibly low expectations. For the most part they were met, but occasionally exceeded.
The Hobbit films are a pretty useful comparison, because those movies felt similarly devoid of emotional content, more like a Disneyland ride than a real story. But where The Hobbit consistently reminded me of better movies (The Lord of the Rings Trilogy), Warcraft calls to mind 120 minutes of exclusive prerendered E3 trailer footage. And all told, that’s not the worst thing to look at.
This faint praise shouldn’t be taken too seriously. Even through the haze of my illness it felt like nearly every scene bore the scars of too many rewrites. Whole subplots and characters felt like vestigial remains of early drafts, adding nothing to the overall story. And yet despite this, there is still some good stuff there. The central conflict has resonance, even as its details feel sketched in without much thought. Maybe if I cared more about these characters outside the movie I would be more offended by their limp dramatic interpretation, but I don’t. I was happy enough to groan through the weak dialogue and clap through the over-the-top action.
Taken for what it is - a big sloppy mess of rad creatures, fantasy babble and ludicrous combat - it’s actually a pretty okay time. It succeeds by being fun, even in its moments of absurd seriousness.
Anyone need another hot take on why this movie is bad? No? You suuuure?
I’m barely conscious, I thought at the time. If there was ever a mindset to enjoy this movie it’s right now. I just said nice things about the Warcraft movie for chrissakes. How bad could this get?
More than anything, this movie was FUCKING BORING. That’s the sin I won’t forgive. My other thoughts are probably too scattered to make sense of, so I will lay them out in listicle format:
- I’m not surprised that Zack Snyder doesn’t understand what a reporter does, but holy crap is Clark Kent bad at his job.
- Battfleck is reeeally squeezed into that suit. I want to pop his chin like a zit.
- Nothing makes sense. To risk giving this script too much credit: we have all been served Granny’s Peach Tea.
- Jesse Eisenberg is so ludicrously bad that it loops around to entertaining again, but mainly that’s in relation to how boring everything else is.
- The best I could’ve hoped for were some cool fight scenes, but those let me down too, even/especially Wonder Woman’s much touted reveal. Everything was dark, and looked like it was filmed on a CW tv show budget.
- Jimmy Olsen is a CIA agent. Oh wait now he’s dead. Ya got me, Snyder!
In conclusion, I’m actually not sure if I watched this movie or hallucinated it in a fever dream.
Let’s get this out of the way: X-Men: Apocalypse was my biggest disappointment of the week. I didn’t expect True Greatness from any of these films, but if one was poised to claim an award for Competency it was this. Veteran director with good movies under his belt: check. Strong central cast: check. Wealth of material from both comics and previous movies to work from: check.
Like Warcraft, Apocalypse feels like it was hastily stitched together from early drafts, and yet unlike Warcraft there’s little if any fun to be had. While Apocalypse could never be as blatantly incompetent as the series’ lowest point (X-Men: The Last Stand), the two films surprisingly share a lot of problems.
Mainly, they share an overabundance of characters who seem to exist solely for the purpose of fanservice, if for any reason at all.
Olivia Munn’s Psylocke is like a comic book drawing come to life in the sense that she lacks any depth and her clothes might as well be painted on. Havok exists only to motivate a young Cyclops, but nothing about that relationship lands in the slightest. They even throw in a Wolverine cameo to distract us from the pointlessness of it all. Quicksilver does a victory lap around the movie for being the most entertaining part of the previous film, but utterly fails to bring anything new to the table, even in terms of his character’s STATED PURPOSE IN THE STORY, figuring out the deal with Dadgneto (yes that’s the nickname I’m sticking with). And speaking of which, even Michael Fassbender can’t do much with his role as “angry guy who is less angry at the start but then they kill his family so he gets angry again.” If the movie had given that relationship (heck, any relationship) some development I might have been invested in its outcome, but they didn’t and I wasn’t.
As for the big blue baddie himself, Oscar Isaac lacks any defining characteristics that would make a compelling villain. Everything about him is vague, from his origins to his plans to his powers. If he can control things on a molecular level, what’s to stop him from rearranging the X-Men’s molecules on first sight? What do the horsemen actually bring to the table? What does anyone bring to the table? IS THERE EVEN A TABLE???
Like I said, I think X-Men: Apocalypse was the most garbage of these three. It’s a result of expectations, and the squandering of potential. But don’t take my word for it! Did you see any of these movies? Which would you burn in a fire? Or is this whole piece invalidated because I couldn’t bring myself to watch Suicide Squad? Let me know: