X-Men: Apocalypse Movie Review
There’s a scene midway through X-MEN: APOCALYPSE where a few young new members are having a discussion as they are walking out of a theater showing RETURN OF THE JEDI (The story takes place in the 1980’s). Jubilee argues that THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK is still the best, while Cyclops believes A NEW HOPE is better because it started it all. Meanwhile, Jean Grey proclaims that we can all agree that the third film is always the worst. While it might be a bit tongue in cheek, X-MEN: APOCALYPSE fulfills this self referential joke by being the weakest X-Men film among the new class.
Now that’s not to say that X-MEN: APOCALYPSE is absolutely terrible. As a fan of the X-Men series and the actors they’ve cast, the film still entertains on a certain superhero level, albeit an extremely low one. The story idea and basic outline is actually an intriguing raise the stakes scenario for the the X-Men universe. A decade after the events from X-MEN DAYS OF FUTURE PAST, life’s very first mutant, Apocalypse, awakens to eliminate the weak and achieve world domination. Sadly, the poor execution through a lack of character development and personality in a universe full of interesting characters with deep internal struggles, doesn’t offer anything to truly care about.
Director Bryan Singer returns for his fourth X-MEN film and appears to have lost his passion for the subject. A lot of time is spent setting things up and creating grand gestures that have little payoff. I’m looking at you Magneto’s new family. I’m not sure why a decade needed to go by either, but the fact that none of the characters have aged or really progressed much in life was a bit confusing and distracting.
Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) might be the biggest foe yet. Powerful and frightening, Apocalypse recruits his own team named The Four Horseman (the biblical references don’t go much deeper than name). Magneto (Michael Fassbender), Professor X (James McAvoy), Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), Beast (Nicholas Holt) and for some odd reason that doesn’t have any substantial bearing to the story, agent Moira Mactaggert (Rose Byrne) all return. While these actors have proven to be some of the greats and we know these characters quite well, X-MEN: APOCALYPSE doesn’t seem to know what to do with them or any of the new crop of characters. “I’m a telepath”, “Get out, get out, get out…”, “Is This What You Want” are just some of the excruciatingly trite dialogue where the characters are constantly stating and repeating the obvious. How many times must we see Professor X and Magneto have the same argument about humanity? I understand that this is the basic conflict between the frenemies, but we’ve seen prior films manage the topic in a much fresher, more interesting manner. The newest members added to the universe are: Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), Cyclops (Tye Sheridan),Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee), Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Angel (Ben Hardy), Psylock (Olivia Munn). They are all given too much screen time without much development. Unfortunately, they don’t bring the same charisma that previous characters have brought. However, there is one exception.
In DAYS OF FUTURE PAST, Quicksilver (Evan Peters) was a highlight in an already very good film. Once again his character steals the show as the one shining light within the mediocrity. He breathes a much needed energy into the picture that overpowers much of the flat dialogue and stale tone. His hero moment is absolutely incredible and the applied effect to demonstrate his character’s speed and personality is infectiously fun. Along with a certain clawed regenerative mutant making his obligatory cameo in a most ferociously effective manner, Quicksilver’s scenes nearly make up for all the film’s shortcomings.
At two hours and twenty-four minutes, X-MEN: APOCALYPSE spends too much time trying to be grand when the details are shallow. I love the X-Men and my passion for the characters from the previous films make this one somewhat interesting by default. Sadly, there just isn’t enough heart or personality for the audience to fully invest into X-MEN: APOCALYPSE.
Utilizing the effect throughout the film, the 3D is smooth and clear. The opening credit sequence is particularly exciting and overall I would say the technique is excellent. However, as great as it might be, it really isn’t necessary.