The X-Men are incredibly important to the modern day superhero movie landscape. 2000’s X-Men reintroduced us to big, action-packed, Marvel comic book movies (Sorry, Blade) and was really the first big, “team” superhero film. It was awesome seeing this group of heroes (and villains) that we grew up reading about on the big screen. Then, X2: X-Men United took it to the next level. Flash forward 16 years, dozens of superhero movies, and a refreshed franchise, and you have the latest entry in the X-Men saga, X-Men: Apocalypse. Does the film continue the success of the films that came before it? Or, does X-Men: Apocalypse deserve to stay buried?
X-Men: Apocalypse is the third movie in the rebooted X-Men franchise, which began with X-Men: First Class. This time around, the titular character Apocalypse has awoken from an ancient slumber only to realize that he’s not too big of a fan of what humanity has become. So, like any good bad guy, he decides that he wants to take over the world, cleanse it of humanity, and remake it in his own image.
It’s up to the X-Men (both old and new) to band together and stop Apocalypse. What transpires over the next two and a half hours are a bunch of Saturday morning comic book cliches. Opening the film, there’s about a dozen, rapid-fire scenes to introduce us to all over the new mutants. That’s where Apocalypse begins to bog down. It introduces all these new characters and then does an awful job balancing their screen time. Unlike Marvel’s Civil War, Apocalypse doesn’t let us enjoy a lot of these characters.
Some of the newer characters mentioned include younger versions of: Cyclops, Nightcrawler, Storm, Jean Grey, Psylocke, Angel, Jubilee, and many more. Sophie Turner’s Jean Grey is the standout of the bunch. It just stinks that Apocalypse doesn’t do a great job making us feel for these new characters or giving them enough relevance in the film. Storm’s story starts out interesting enough; as an Aladdin-esc, street rat, but like the other four horseman, their stories go nowhere (sans Magneto’s). I think Olivia Munn’s Psylocke has less than ten lines in the entire film.
Instead of Cyclops, it’s Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique/Raven that helps lead the X-Men. For this generation of X-Men films, it makes sense why Mystique is the one to help lead them. They look up to her and see her as a symbol of hope for mutants after the events of Days of Future Past. And while Lawrence does an adequate job, it seems like a lot of the AAA actors performances in the film are a bit, uninspired.
Take Oscar Isaac for example. He’s a brilliant actor whose performance in this movie is lackluster at best. Is it because he’s hidden behind 40 pounds of makeup and CGI, or that fact that Apocalypse is nothing more than a walking cliche of comic book villains. X-Men: Days of Future Past’s Peter Dinklage was a much more menacing villain as Bolivar Trask, and one who I honestly felt was a legitimate threat to the X-Men. Here, Apocalypse feels like a Saturday morning cartoon villain. His only purpose is to serve as a big, menacing, force of nature. However, he never amounts to anything. I’m ragging on the narrative of the film because I expected more after the fantastic, Days of Future Past. That being said, it’s not that any of this is bad, narratively. Apocalypse manages to pull together all the cameos, nods to previous films, multiple character threads and meld them into a somewhat coherent form. It’s just one we’ve seen already.
It’s easily the biggest X-Men movie put on screen. The film even manages to top the excellent QuickSilver scene from Days of Future Past. However, this leads to a lot of superhero movie cliches. I mean, the final showdown takes place in — stop me if you’ve heard this one before — the ruins of a deserted cityscape. While the fighting’s fun, there’s a lot of standing around, grimacing at one another, and shooting laser beams that surprisingly always miss.
X-Men: Apocalypse isn’t a bad movie. It’s just, an uninspired one. Valuing style over substance, which leads to an overwhelmingly boring experience. Yeah, it’s cool to see the X-Men (both old and new) on screen, and it does an adamant job trying to tie everything together and bring us back to the original film trilogy.
There’s some good stuff in here. The action scenes, Fassbender’s Magneto, and a special guest appearance by a certain someone (it’s Wolverine). However, with a wasted villain in Apocalypse, an overly long run-time, and a large amount of characters you just don’t care about. X-Men: Apocalypse is worth a one time watch. Just, don’t bother seeing it again.