When is a superhero movie like Game of Thrones? When it’s the most pirated movie of the year, of course. On a new list of all the movies downloaded from popular torrenting site BitTorrent, the merc with a mouth tops the chart over Batman v. Superman, Captain America: Civil War, and The Force Awakens.
The Internet Movie Database is a fount of helpful information. With a few simple clicks, users can learn who shot the Miley Cyrus vehicle So Undercover (Things to Come cinematographer Denis Lenoir), which sequel in the Hellraiser franchise featured a performance from a young Adam Scott (the fourth one), or how old Taraji P. Henson is (who looks that good at 46?!). As a repository for loose factoids from in and around the world of screen entertainment, it can’t be beat. As a source for critical perspectives on those same films, however... hoo boy. Just take a gander at any comment section for a movie’s page and marvel at the IMDb is the site where rabid anti-Ghostbusters zealots congregated to downvote Paul Feig’s movie into oblivion weeks before its actual release, and the newly-released IMDb Top 10 provides an even clearer view of its user base.
With all due respect to the major acting and directing categories, I’ve come to really appreciate the Academy Awards’ technical categories in recent years. Whereas the performances and movies at the top of the program are often culled from a predictable pool of art films and auteur projects, the VFX Oscars tend to be a bit more egalitarian in nature, honoring whatever movies are the most impressive regardless of overall quality. This is often how populist film genres not typically noticed by the Academy — action, science-fiction, fantasy — slip into Oscar contention.
The X-Men villain Apocalypse is like something out of Darwin’s nightmares. A devout believer in the most twisted form of evolution, he repeatedly tests the mutants of the Marvel Universe. The weak are culled. Only the strong survive.
X-Men: Apocalypse didn’t have a very great summer. The movie itself was not great, and its ad campaign, featuring huge billboards of Oscar Isaac’s Apocalypse choking Jennifer Lawrence, was roundly criticized for showing excessive violence against women.
Centuries from now, when scholar look back on 2016, they will note several key events. They will discuss the year’s President election, one of the most bizarre and tumultuous in our nation’s history. They will note the deaths of great artists like Prince, David Bowie, and Gene Wilder. And they will ponder with great curiosity the opening credits to Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Apocalypse, surely one of the most bats--- insane moments to ever kick off a $200 million movie.
About two months ago, on a day when I was in no way questioning my career path and life choices, I asked a question: “Is 2016 the worst summer movie season ever?” In early July, it was probably a little premature to raise that issue, but with theaters were filled with dreck like Independence Day: Resurgence, The Legend of Tarzan, and Alice Through the Looking Glass, it was hard not to wonder. At that time, I looked at the Rotten Tomatoes ratings from hundreds of wide releases from the last decade, and found that while the overall scores from 2016 were basically in line with those from ones from each of the last five years, the scores for just the biggest movies, the ones like Tarzan or Independence Day with budgets in excess of $100 million, were way lower this year.
I have a dream job. What could be better than watching and talking about movies for a living? Nothing; the answer is nothing. But lately my job has been a lot less fun than normal, because the movies themselves have been a lot less fun. Quite frankly, this summer sucks.
X-Men: Apocalypse opened in the United States in May; after five weeks in theaters it’s starting to wind down its domestic theatrical run. (Last weekend it grossed an estimated $2.4 million on about 1600 screens.) But while the movie is slowly vanishing from theaters here, it’s yet to even open in certain international markets, including Japan. Over there, Apocalypse doesn’t debut until August, so the film’s promotional campaign continues in full force on that side of the Pacific. That includes this latest trailer, in which the star of Fox’s other (and far more financially successful) 2016 superhero movie shows up to promote his more famous colleagues.
Despite the diminishing returns of the X-Men series, they have accomplished at least one inarguably impressive feat: taking a supporting antagonist like Mystique and transforming her into a great, complex leading character, worthy of her place in Apocalypse as a mutant role model to Xavier’s gifted youngsters. But is she worthy of her own standalone movie? Bryan Singer certainly thinks so, though he seems to be taking Jennifer Lawrence’s contributions to the character for granted.