2016 Awards Profile: ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ from Bryan Singer

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Welcome to the 2016 Awards Profiles series, where we talk about high and low-profile films coming to a theater near you at some point this year.  We will analyze the potential for these films to be players for the Academy Awards, and while many of these have the potential to be recognized, many will not either by quality or being pushed back to the following year.  For the next eight weeks, we will bring you a film every weekday to talk about their potential.  If you have a suggestion, please include it in the comments below.  If you missed a film, click on the tag or category Awards Profile.

Directed By: Bryan Singer

Written By: Simon Kinberg

Cast: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Oscar Isaac, Rose Byrne, Tye Sheridan, Sophie Turner, Olivia Munn, Lucas Till, Evan Peters, Alexandra Shipp, Josh Helman, Ben Hardy, Lana Condor, Tómas Lemarquis and Kodi Smit-McPhee

Synopsis (From IMDB): With the emergence of the world’s first mutant, Apocalypse, the X-Men must unite to defeat his extinction level plan.

Why It Could Succeed:

After the unprecedented popularity of this year’s Deadpool, 20th Century Fox has to be feeling pretty confident that X-Men: Apocalypse will ride the wave of success created by the franchise spinoff. X-Men’s greatest strength has always been its characters and the near-perfect ability of the studio’s casting department to match actor to mutant accordingly. The previous film, Days of Future Past, was praised by fans and critics alike for retconning the narratives of duds The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. By doing so, the saga resurrected fan favorites from the dead and combined the talents of past and present to make for an even more spectacular action bonanza.

Even more of a draw is the fact that this film is rumored to be Jennifer Lawrence’s last X-Men film (I’m over here rejoicing but Hunger Games fanatics are likely blubbering at this news), making it a must-see conclusion story for the most popular young movie actress on the planet. Game of Thrones fans will also be purchasing tickets en masse considering this is the first time we’ll see “Sansa” (Sophie Turner) in a major role outside of the hit HBO fantasy drama. Surely, Fox hopes to draw in a younger demographic with the addition of a youthful cast playing our favorite mutants in their formative years. Plus, how can you not go see an X-Men film with a title as hyperbolic (though appropriate considering the villain — hello, Oscar Isaac!) as that? There’s just no excuse to overlook the pinnacle of showdowns.

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Why It Could Fail:

A smorgasbord of heroes and villains is the running genre theme lately, and I dare say for many that shtick has run its course. Yes, fresh faces abound that have yet to show their entertainment value to this franchise, but the feeling of exhaustion has to set in for many. X-Men: Days of Future Past was a course-correction that didn’t particularly need a major sequel to further right itself more than it had already accomplished. In the case of the X-Men films, there might be the worry these movies fall into the category of “too much of a good thing,” especially since the story focus isn’t forward so much as multi-directional.

Too many new major characters means the potential for undercooked characterization, potentially resulting in bland, by-the-numbers youth interpretations of our favorite heroes. If the “Teen Mutants” pale in comparison to their adult selves, we’re in for a major disappointment. Considering the stakes of this film are higher than any other X-Men film, naturally, the strength of the film depends on the new cast’s ability to mesh well together with as much humor-laced yet emotionally supportive camaraderie as always. Carrying the weight of the franchise is no easy task, and the skeptical part of me feels as though newcomers Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, Kodi Smit-McPhee and Alexandra Shipp – all of whom are known for their ultra-serious past work – don’t have the charisma or effortless ease for which to uphold a blockbuster of this magnitude.

Awards Speculation:

Of the seven X-Men films to come out, only one was nominated for an Academy Award – Days of Future Past, which likely only scored a nod for “Best Visual Effects” for that insanely masterful sequence featuring Quicksilver freeze time to eliminate all the guards in the room. The X-Men films’ effects have mostly been flashy and stunt-driven without drawing individual attention to any one particular effect unless it’s a staple power. Because of this horrific batting average, you can pretty much discount X-Men: Apocalypse out of the running for anything except a few tech nods at best. Even visual effects seems like a reach considering contenders this year include The Jungle Book, Alice in Wonderland: Through the Looking Glass, Marvel films Captain America: Civil War and Doctor Strange, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Passengers, Independence Day: Resurgence, Warcraft, Star Trek: Beyond, Suicide Squad, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Assassin’s Creed. Good luck with that, 20th Century Fox!

Oscar Potential:
Best Visual Effects
Best Sound Mixing
Best Sound Editing
Best Original Score
Best Hairstyling and Makeup
Best Costume Design