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IN REVIEW (MINI): “X-Men: Apocalypse” AND “The Lobster”

Originally posted on Ello:

X-Men: Apocalypse > Rating — 4/5

Despite and in spite of Psylocke’s (Olivia Munn) obvious and regressive eye candy, her costuming represents a very specific cartoonish feel to Bryan Singer’s latest X-Men superhero film, Apocalypse. Clad rather scandidly in what can best be described as Mortal Kombat gear, the sheer ridiculousness of such a piece only punctuates with a heavy exclamation point other silly elements, like the villain — the world’s supposed “first” mutant” — who resembles Ivan Ooze from that Power Rangers film a little too closely, and the young mutants seeing Return of the Jedi and remarking on threequels. It’s a movie of goofy and doofy moments, not witty in the Whedon sense but fun in the animated sense. Apocalypse is, most assuredly, the best live action adaptation of the 90’s cartoon series we’ll ever get.

When it’s not having fun with itself — make your own teenage mutant in self discovery / masturbation joke — the movie also presents a story of stellar telling. At its most simplistic (and perhaps exploitative towards its own characters), Apocalypse moves on from the complex morality play involved in Days of Future Past and into Avengers style teamwork and togetherness. It’s an origin tale that’s post origin tale. These kind of films are in an era that’s gotten beyond the “how it all came to be” of the 2000’s and now exist in a place where we can skip the gaining of powers and just move to using the powers. However, where it differs from other 2000’s hero movies in that way, it shares their cheesiness and even innocence.

And, in a year that has brought us Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, that’s a welcome thing. A very welcome thing.

The Lobster > Rating — 5/5

Dystopian sci fi comedy it might be, The Lobster may also be one of the more unsettling pictures released in 2016. As someone who has spent most of his life “single and ready to mingle”, the notion of being forced into a coupling with the punishment of being transformed into an animal should I fail is awfully scary. Some of us mature differently, and a society that dictates exactly when a person is ready for whatever is silly and inappropriate — which the movie is as well. Ironically, the humor here is as dry as the dry spell most of the loners would’ve had if this community weren’t so absurd.

Beneath the discomfort there can be found some genuine romance and hysterics. Colin Farrell plays a man effortlessly exhausted with the action of love yet still willing to believe in making connections. Desperate, tired, vulnerable and slick, Farrell gives a career high performance. At one point, he and Rachel Weisz share a sequence on a couch that is heartbreakingly (too) cutesy and whimsically (too) anxious. This sequence sums up the awkwardness, the pain, the beauty and the joke that is love. Is a happy ending possible? Are we doomed to a cycle of simultaneous joy and hurt? Of having our cake and eating it too? Of not being ready for what is thrust upon us? The Lobster makes its case clearly, and unsettling is the best way to describe it.

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