‘X-Men: Dark Phoenix’ Director Admits That ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ Stinks
These days, filmmakers doing press for an upcoming sequel tend to transform their interviews into an ongoing apology tour for the previous movie. “Yeah, that one stank, but we learned a lot and this one will be better!” has been trotted out enough to feel meaningless at this point. Still, X-Men: Apocalypse was so bad that I can’t help but cling to Simon Kinberg‘s words when the longtime franchise writer/producer (and director of the upcoming X-Men: Dark Phoenix) admits that the previous core film in the series flopped on a pure creative level.
Speaking with Entertainment Weekly, Kinberg acknowledged that Apocalypse placed too much emphasis on city-wiping set pieces and not enough emphasis on allowing audiences to give a crap about the heroes and villains attempting to cause/prevent those city-wiping set pieces:
I think we took our eye off what has always been the bedrock of the franchise which is these characters. It became about global destruction and visual effects over emotion and character.
Kinberg wrote and produced Apocalypse, wrote X-Men: The Last Stand, produced X-Men: Days of Future Past, produced Deadpool, produced Logan, is currently producing Deadpool 2 and New Mutants, and will make his directorial debut with X-Men: Dark Phoenix. So if anyone is in position to provide commentary on these movies, it’s him. And yeah, there’s catharsis in a filmmaker admitting when the key creatives screwed up on a bad movie.
Because Kinberg is right: when I think about Apocalypse over a year later, I don’t remember any lines of dialogue or character moments. I remember 144 minutes of mind-numbing CGI. I remember Oscar Isaac wasted under pounds of ugly latex, his voice wrecked using a tacky filter. I remember Olivia Munn wandering around Auschwitz in a bathing suit. I remember Apocalypse touching a TV and declaring that he was “learning.” In other words, I remember the stuff I hated and the stuff I still talk about because I can’t believe anyone thought it was a good idea. 2016 also gave us Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad, but X-Men: Apocalypse somehow reigns supreme as the worst comic book movie of that year.
In the same interview, co-producer Hutch Parker chimed in with a measured “everyone tried really hard and it didn’t work but we learned a lot so don’t worry about Dark Phoenix, we got it right this time”-style comment:
It’s always dangerous if your script is evolving while you’re shooting. Certainly, in hindsight, we all feel like the genre has been evolving aesthetically and tonally and that the film didn’t. There’s a lot that I think is very good in the film but, as a whole, it was struggling to find ways to coalesce, narratively emotionally and in terms of plot. Aesthetically, it felt sort of dated relative to an evolution you were seeing play out everywhere else. We learned a lot from that.
Honestly, everyone probably feels comfortable throwing Apocalypse under the bus because director Bryan Singer is too busy dealing with far more pressing matters to respond.
Naturally, the interview concludes with Kinberg promising a more character-based and grounded approach for Dark Phoenix. We’ll find out if anyone actually learned anything or if this is a classic case of ass-covering when the film opens on November 2, 2018.
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