Movie Review: “X-Men: Apocalypse”
- by Steve Garcia, 31 May 2016
When the first mutant ever born wakes up from an ancient slumber, he wages war against mankind and the only force ballsy enough to stand in his way are the X-Men. How does X-Men: Apocalypse stack up against the eight other films in the franchise? Let’s take a look.
In a much more serious tone than the current crop of Marvel Studios films, Bryan Singer continues to leave his mark on the X-Men franchise, with what I would call his most ambitious attempt yet. As his name implies, Apocalypse is the be-all, end-all X-Men villain as well as being one of the most complex. Condensing his story in a two-hour blockbuster isn’t an easy feat, and while the film was far from perfect, it actually turned out to be pretty good all things considered. Does it stack up to the likes of Deadpool or Civil War? Not really, but it was an honest effort.
Among the film’s problems, it had some pacing issues, beginning with its slow start. There were a lot of pieces that had to be put in place before the action started, so audiences were pretty much forced to sit back and absorb every bit of important background information. It isn’t until a certain scene involving Michael Fassbender’s Magneto in a forest where it picks up and hooks you in. …But then it slows down again until its explosive third act.
While I loved Apocalypse's character, biblical speeches, and persuasive personality, his look just really crippled him. I understood and found the bloodthirsty egotistical maniac fascinating, but I was never afraid of him. And with a name like "Apocalypse," you kind of should be, as the character’s entire ideology is that “only the strong should survive.” When the character was supposed to be intimidating and imposing, I couldn’t help but wish that he looked it. I’m not knocking down Oscar Isaac’s performance, mind you—he did the best with what he was given. He just wasn’t the right fit for the role.
With Apocalypse, he usually recruits his four horsemen, a small posse that serves as his lieutenants for shaping the world as he sees fit. Along with the already-established Magneto, the audience was introduced to new faces in the roles of Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Angel (Ben Hardy), and Psylocke (Olivia Munn). For a lengthy runtime, almost none of it was used to develop any of those three, which hurt the final act because there was nothing to be invested in for these characters. To give you an idea of what I mean, combined, Angel and Psylocke had less than ten lines. Storm was the standout as she was the only one given a small backstory, but the other two just plain sucked. Speaking of straight up sucking, Jennifer Lawrence’s mailed in performance as Mystique didn’t go unnoticed either. She has clearly lost interest in this franchise.
Regardless of the lackluster horsemen and Mystique, there were quite a few standouts on the good guy’s side, namely Tye Sheridan’s Cyclops and Sophie Turner’s Jean Grey. As a follow-up from 2014’s X-Men: Days of Future Past, Evan Peters’s Quicksilver not only had a mandatory film-stealing scene, but some nice character development as well. And that’s not all! While Wolverine's cameo totally didn't need to be in this movie (time that could’ve been used elsewhere), it was still pretty awesome and left a door wide open for his next solo adventure.
Overall, X-Men: Apocalypse was fine despite its problems. It’s an ambitious take on a complex source material that ultimately did its job at the end of the day. With its unsteady pacing and a few weak characters, it certainly doesn’t stand among the greats in the franchise like X-Men: First Class or X2: X-Men United, but it’s certainly better than the franchise’s lowest of lows (Origins? The Last Stand? C’mon.) Just a little better than the average X-Men movie, I'd give it a C+. Buy a ticket if you’re invested in the franchise, but otherwise, I’d wait until it’s on VOD.
Have you seen "X-Men Apocalypse"? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!