X-Men: Apocalypse Movie Review
The world is on the verge of destruction--again--which means that Professor X must form a team of mutants--again--to save the day in X-Men: Apocalypse, the somewhat disappointing sixth entry (or third, depending on how you look at it) in the semi-reliable franchise.
Bryan Singer, who has directed three of the best-reviewed X-Men movies, is back, but as a young Jean Grey warns early on, “Everyone knows the third one is always the worst,” presumably a jab at Brett Ratner’s critically panned X-Men: The Last Stand--and unintentionally a jab at itself, easily the worst of this second trilogy of sorts which sees the First Class (Beast, Mystique and Professor X) students grow into teachers of a more recognizable X-Men crew (including Jean Grey and Cyclops).
X-Men Apocalypse boasts the baddest villain yet and as a result the stakes have never been higher, so where, and how, does the movie miss the mark?
- The villain sort of sucks. We’ve seen this before--an ancient evil awakes and puts the Earth in danger. Yawn. Sure, Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac, Star Wars: The Force Awakens) is all powerful, but his powers are never entirely explained, nor are his end goals. He wants to rule the Earth, but does he want to rule over a world that is completely destroyed and devoid of life, save for his four Horsemen? Further, while he causes a lot of damage, he spends most of time standing in a courtyard in Cairo saying scary things. Borrrrring.
- The story sort of sucks. Worse than the villain, the shoddy script bounces from one story element to the next, jamming things together that never entirely make sense. For example, why is William Stryker in this movie (ugh) and how does he manage to show up within minutes of sh*t going down to kidnap a bunch of mutants? Oh yeah, so we can get an unnecessary and sloppy Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) cameo! And why is it revealed that Quicksilver’s dad is Magneto? Not only does the math not add up, this revelation does not even play into the overall plot at all (wouldn’t a simpler reason to get Quicksilver involved be that he was feeling guilty for breaking the dangerous fugitive out in the first place (which led to the President almost being assassinated in X-Men: Days of Future Past)?
- The characters’ actions don’t make sense. The movie is a ridiculous two-and-a-half hours long, and yet most of the characters seem woefully underdeveloped. While a few of the X-Men are properly fleshed out (Jean Grey and Nightcrawler, most notably), the rest of the crew, including Beast (Nicholas Hoult), Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) and even Professor X (James McAvoy), seem to just be along for the ride. As for the villains… ugh. Storm’s (Alexandra Shipp) motivations sort of make sense, but why Angel (Ben Hardy) or Magneto (Michael Fassbender) sign up for Apocalypse’s plan are head scratchers. And seriously… someone just kill Magneto off already--his “can’t figure out which side I’m on” shtick is old. As for Psylocke (Olivia Munn), she looks pretty but has no personality whatsoever.
- Two hours of building, half an hour of action. How is it that we’re at the end of a trilogy and once again the X-Men are just getting formed? While there are some random action scenes scattered throughout--including another fun segment with Quicksilver (Evan Peters) saving a bunch of people from an explosion--most of the movie operates in build mode until it gets to the climax. While never boring, the movie feels slow and rudderless at times.
On the positive side:
- Jean Grey kicks ass. Sophie Turner (“Game of Thrones”) is perfect for the role, and her version of Jean Grey feels much more interesting and powerful than Famke Janssen’s. I look forward to seeing her in future X-Men movies.
- Nightcrawler and Quicksilver are great as well. Though the actor has changed, Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is still a phenomenal character, both in terms of superpower and personality. Evan Peters is once again the life of the party as Quicksilver and appears to have more fun than everyone else in the movie combined.
- The climax is exciting. While Singer fails to really establish the full threat of the Four Hoursemen (Angel and Storm really don’t do a whole lot, while Psylocke is given a bit more to do and Magneto primarily hangs out in a bubble), he’s no slouch when it comes to directing action. The climax is pretty fun to watch (save for the fist fight that occurs inside Apocalypse’s head, which is just f**king stupid).
- The movie isn’t terrible. While it needed a bit more humor, more attention to detail and tightening of the characters and story, scene by scene X-Men: Apocalypse is moderately entertaining. When all is said and done, there are many worse action movies out there, and certainly worse comic book movies.
X-Men: Apocalypse isn’t a great movie, but it has a lot of good elements as well. Given the nature of the villain and the two previous entries, however, it is certainly a disappointment.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.