X-Men: Apocalypse 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review
A cult has awakened who is believed to be the oldest and most powerful mutant of all time, who we refer to as Apocalypse, even though he never refers to himself by name. Apocalypse needs four horsemen to help him destroy the world and he begins by recruiting Storm (Alexandra Shipp). Next up is Psylocke (Olivia Munn), who we know nothing about except she appears to be able to turn her hand into a sword. Psylocke introduces Apocalypse to Angel (Ben Hardy), who has giant wings and can fight. The four of them then find Erik/Magneto (Fassbender) and the four horsemen are complete. But there was no logic to who he chose or why and Erik was a bit of a stretch, but I guess they needed someone the audience knew about. Meanwhile, back at Xavier’s mansion, we get introduced to Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), Cyclops (Tye Sheridan) and Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) who are all young kids trying to get a grip on their powers. But when Mystique (Lawrence) returns to warn the X-Men of the impending doom, the X-Men are formed (kind of) to bring down Apocalypse.
There are a lot of confusing decisions in Apocalypse, but I had the overwhelming feeling that the story of Apocalypse was really crammed into a 2 hour movie. So much of his screen time was spent recruiting the horsemen and even that felt rushed and wasn’t explained very well. The film also introduced several new mutants, but again, none of them had much of an impact and the audience struggled to care about any of them. Mystique isn’t a very interesting character, but I know Jennifer Lawrence is Jennifer Lawrence, but they relied on her to “form” the X-Men and be the glue that united them and the audience (a role usually reserved for Wolverine). But Mystique isn’t a strong enough character to pull it off and the story suffered for it.
Action scenes have always been a problem for the X-Men films, which have relied more heavily on story and character development than exciting action sequences. X-MEN: APOCALYPSE might be the best example of this since we don’t get a good display of mutant powers from our new heroes and then when the final battle commences, it underwhelms because none of the heroes involved stood a chance against Apocalypse. Everyone knew how it had to go down and so we were just waiting for the “big reveal” (for lack of a better term) and for someone to come to a realization they should have come to earlier in the film.
X-MEN: FIRST CLASS did what I didn’t think was possible; make a great X-Men film without Wolverine. Telling the origin story of Xavier and Erik was a great way to draw attention from the fact you weren’t acknowledging the most famous and beloved member of the X-Men team. But the origin story has been told and now the action has started and you have to have Wolverine if you’re going to make an X-Men movie. Yes, he had a glorified cameo role in X-MEN: APOCALYPSE, but it wasn’t enough and the lack of charm from any of the other characters left a vacancy that only Wolverine can fix. With Hugh Jackman (supposedly, I’m still not sure I believe him) hanging up the claws for good after LOGAN, Fox has a huge problem on their hands, because if Apocalypse is any indication, Fox has proved the X-Men need Wolverine.
As Jean Grey jokes in the middle of the film, the third film is always the worst of the trilogy and X-MEN: APOCALYPSE proves that general rule again. It’s not a bad film, but it pales in comparison to First Class and Days of Future Past. But all is not lost for Fox; if they throw some money at McAvoy and Fassbender and then load a dump truck full of cash for Hugh Jackman, they can easily get the X-Men franchise back on track.
4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: I feel like I’m being hard on the X-Men films when it comes to their 4K Ultra HD discs, but X-MEN: APOCALYPSE has a few things that I complained about in First Class and Days of Future Past, most notably, the quality of the CGI scenes. This is just a repercussion of the drastically increased clarity of 4K and is noticeable whenever there’s a CGI/live action scene. The best example is during the final battle, when Magneto had the forcefield spinning around him. On the Blu-ray, the forcefield blends into the background and the focus is on Magneto. But in the 4K transfer, the forcefield has more detail and looks more “fake” (again, need a better word there). Whining aside, the 4K transfer proves its greatness in more stable scenes, such as anything in Xavier’s mansion. Details in the individual characters are exquisite, as are the backgrounds of the Mansion’s backyard and interiors. The HDR adds a lot to the video as well, especially in character closeups (Apocalypse being the best example). Overall, this is a nice transfer and another good use of HDR.
Audio: Thankfully, the 4K disc adds a Dolby Atmos track, which is very impressive.
There are no 4K exclusive special features, but it does include a Blu-ray of the film which includes the following special features:
Commentary with Bryan Singer and Simon Kinberg: These guys give a good commentary and talk about the technical details of the film. They also talk a lot about the four horsemen and why they made some of the decisions they made. This is a good commentary and fans or critics of the film should check it out.
Deleted/Extended Scenes (28:10): Singer introduces a handful of scenes that don’t do much. We do get an extended mall sequence that very briefly introduces Jubilee’s powers in an arcade. I was hoping for more Jubilee, but I guess it wasn’t meant to be. There’s also a mall sequence that plays out more like a music video and I’m very glad they cut that out. What a terrible scene.
X-Men Apocalypse: Unearthed: Over an hour’s worth of featurettes make up what is essentially a making-of documentary. The best part might be in the latter featurettes where they hint at what they want to do with the franchise.
Gag Reel (8:20): The cast has a fun time laughing at each other.
Wrap Party Video (4:45): The cast has a fun time celebrating the end of the production.