Hugh Jackman: HughJackolypse review

22 May 2016 by , No Comments

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Surprisingly, after eating up 90% of the screen time in Hugh Jackman: Hughs of Jackman Past, Hugh Jackman has very little to do with this movie beyond a rather token cameo that serves no purpose other than to ruin everyone’s efforts to try and sort some sort of continuity out in these movies. At this point, I think we can just safely say that each and every one takes place in a similar but different alternate universe and be done with it. If Bryan Singer isn’t going to bother with a nice, consistent narrative, why should we?

Now, that snarky little opening of mine might have given you the impression that I disliked this movie. Nothing, I assure you could be further from the truth. While the movie has a lot of problems (and, believe me, we’ll get to those) I honestly rather enjoyed it on the whole. The young Cyclops, Nightcrawler, and Jean Grey all work well together and they make the most of what little they really have to do. James McAvoy continues to prove that he’s a worthy successor to Sir Patrick Stewart with a performance that brings across a much happier Xavier who has finally managed to start getting his shit together after all the troubles of the last film. The character has clearly done a lot of growing up since “First Class” and, as such, he gets to have more than a few badass moments of defiance against the villain. Jennifer Lawrence is still a rather nice Mystique, too, and gets to demonstrate a fair bit of character development as well. Some have said that she phones this performance in a bit and, while I’ll admit that might be true in some scenes, I think she does enough stuff to make up for it. However, as always, it’s Magneto who absolutely steals the show. Hes’ has always been carrying a lot of pain and suffering but now he’s be pushed over the edge once more time despite a tonne of development he’s tried to build since the last film and it makes for quite a tragic turn of events. It really does feel like the universe will simply never let him catch a break and it culminates in a pretty damn impressive scene that shows us just what Magneto is capable of at his angriest and, yet, most vulnerable.

Theeeeeerre’s just one teensy tiny problem with all of this: The actual plot of the movie is a complete mess. It’s not just a case of not making sense within the greater continuity of the Hugh Jackman movies, it’s a case of not making sense within its own confines as a standalone movie. One gets the feeling that this was a film torn between five different writers: one who wanted to write the grand finale to the franchise, one who wanted to milk it for even more sequels and set up an all new cast of youngsters for said sequels, one who wanted it to simply tie up all the loose questions we’ve had since the first Hugh Jackman movie, a fanfic writer who just wanted to make their favourite characters look cool, and a monkey who’d been left unsupervised with the key to the executive gin stash. The result is, naturally, kind of a mess. Admittedly, sometimes it’s a gloriously enjoyable mess with over-the-top action scenes and some nice special effects but, as an actual story, it’s messy in a bad way in a lot of places.

It sadly isn’t long until we as an audience are forced to start asking very basic questions: like, “Don’t we have more characters than we actually know what to do with?” It’s a shame, too, because the opening of the film is pretty tight. We see how the world has moved on since Hughs of Jackman Past, we get to experience how different people in different locations are reacting to the worldwide reveal of Mutants, we get some cute homages to the earlier movies, and we get Quicksilver doing that thing everyone liked in the last movie a few more times because, clearly, if it was funny the first time it will still be funny if we milk it some more, and we get Fassbender doing a lot of interesting things with Magneto’s character that clearly could have been built upon more if some executives hadn’t mandated the use of every last Mutant that has yet to appear in a Marvel movie just to tell them, “No, you can’t have your toys back; we’re still playing with them.” So, we get Psylocke and we get Angel (who, admittedly, gets a pretty impressive introduction scene) and we get a new Storm but they don’t do anything. They’re just kinda there. What makes it worse, though, is the fact that you never get the idea that there were scenes left on the cutting room floor.

Speaking of completely underdeveloped characters, there’s a rather extended sequence in which our main characters get locked up and need rescuing from the Burger King Kids Club that’s long and boring and useless in the same way that every action movie scene that tries to involve shady US military types always is. Look, Hollywood, as much as I love all these extended scenes about GIs nobody wanted to see doing things nobody cares about I am kind of in this for the blue people with super-lasers.

So, I guess it’s kind of a mixed review. I don’t regret seeing it at all. The action is better than it’s been in a long time, the effects are really quite impressive, and the new stuff with Magneto does add something more to his character and it’s a shame that they had to tie it up with one of the most obnoxious of tropes. There are a lot of cool ideas here but there’s also a lot of padding that could have been spent developing the characters or coming up with a tighter narrative. It’s good fun but even having said that it’s a tough act to follow Civil War in the fun stakes and it’s really nothing you haven’t seen before.

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