27th May2016

‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ Review #2

by Jason Brigger

Stars: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Oscar Isaac, Rose Byrne, Evan Peters, Josh Helman, Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, Lucas Till, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Ben Hardy, Alexandra Shipp, Lana Condor, Olivia Munn | Written by Simon Kinberg | Directed by Bryan Singer


X-Men: Apocalypse storms (see what I did there?) into theaters this Friday, May 27 and attempts to right the timeline that was left a muddied mess after the X-Men: Days of Future Past film.

Bryan Singer returns to the directing chair once again and as the architect for the X-Men universe, his attempt to streamline the franchise has only made it more confusing.  It might be an overload of sub-par superhero films recently, minus the latest Captain America film, or it just might be the lack of good X-men films but X-Men: Apocalypse is a boring, bloated mess that is just a grade above Days of Future Past in terms of quality.

The non-spoiler plot focuses on the ancient and all-powerful mutant, En Sabah Nur/Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) awaking in 1983, after his world takeover plot in ancient Egypt failed, and hoping that his supreme ruling of the planet will actually succeed in the decade of commercialism and bad hairstyles.  Apocalypse recruits a new group of Four Horsemen to help lead the charge in destroying the world and it’s up to the X-Men, a group of new mutant teenagers that Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) reluctantly leads to stop Apocalypse from completing his dream for a miserable future.

If this plot sounds familiar, it’s because it’s a similar plot device that has been used in every other recent ensemble superhero film.  There is nothing new in X-Men: Apocalypse that the audience hasn’t seen before including another slow motion extended scene with the speedster Quicksilver (Evan Peters) or a story arch for Magneto (Michael Fassbender) that has been repeated in the last three X-Men films.

The Good:

  • The Cameo.  This reviewer won’t spoil who the cameo is, despite the trailer trying to do that, but fans of all types will enjoy seeing a five-minute action scene with him/her in it and the destruction left behind.
  • The Easter Eggs and Callbacks.  Singer did a wonderful job with the little touches the film quietly references to the diehard fans.  Blink and you’ll miss the Blob (Gustav Claude Ouimet) fighting Angel (Ben Hardy), Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) raging out and even a certain super-villain showing up in the after credits scene.  Singer also does a good job calling back to earlier hints in the film, including Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) fighting Angel in the beginning of the film and again having them search for each other out at the end to determine the real winner of their battle.

The Bad:

  • Magneto’s Story Arc.  As explained above, Magneto’s story arc has been on repeat since X-Men: First Class.  He has started every film as a good guy, then through a misunderstanding, becomes a villain and then through remembering his past with Professor Xavier (James McAvoy), he reverts to being a hero just in enough time to save the day.  Unfortunately, nothing changes this cycle in X-Men: Apocalypse.

The Middling:

  • The New Cast of Characters.  If Fox Studios and Singer wanted us to forget about the cast from the original X-Men trilogy, this film serves the purpose.  Kodi Smit-McPhee steals the show with a stellar performance as the transporting Nightcrawler and despite not having too much to work with in terms of story, Alexandra Shipp does a good job as the weather-controlling Storm. The downside is with so many characters in the film, not all get a chance to shine as the majority of the Apocalypse’s Four Horsemen stand around and just try to look intimidating while other characters look downright bored; I’m looking at you Jennifer Lawrence.  If Fox Studios could explain why Moira Mactaggert (Rose Byrne) returned after sitting out the last film, I would really like to know as her character is nothing more than a plot device to add humor to the Professor Xavier character.  Even the usually good actress Sophie Turner and Tye Sheridan struggle saying their lines convincingly.

Final Grade: C

It’s not that X-Men: Apocalypse is a bad film; it’s just an average, boring film.  In the first five months of 2016 fans of the comic book genre have seen one horrible film (Batman v. Superman), one good film (Captain America: Civil War) and one average film (Apocalypse) and with no constant on the quality of the films, the fans may just be overloaded in this genre.  Unlike Marvel Studios films that generate excitement for future films, X-Men: Apocalypse fails in generating any excitement for the next installment in the franchise.  I left the theater not caring if the next X-Men film is released in two years or five years from now and that is something that Fox Studios does not want their audience to feel for their only profitable comic book film franchise.

You can catch Jason Brigger on the geek-centric podcast, The History of Bad Ideas, as new episodes drop every Wednesday on www.nerdly.co.uk or subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher and other podcasting apps.

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