X-Men: Apocalypse, the latest superhero adventure in a summer full of superhero flicks, and a sort of trilogy conclusion to the X-Men: First Class trilogy of films. Can this next X-Men film stand against the various other superhero films this summer? Well, let's find out!
Directed by: Bryan Singer
Genre: Action, Comic Book, Sci-Fi,
Release Date: May 27, 2016
Running Time: 144 minutes
MMPA rating: PG-13
The Good: Quicksilver's scene is one of the best movie scenes all year, Magneto continues to be the emotional core. Superb performances across the board, Epic cameo, Apocalypse is a unique type of evil, Often quite funny, Impressive kills, Excellent new cast, Great soundtrack, 80s setting and references, Star Wars meta-humor, Revising history, Oscar Isaac nails it, Quicksilver is the best thing ever, Impressive special effects, Interesting world building,
The Bad: Less accessible to those not invested in the franchise, One missed opportunity, Somewhat generic finale,
Plot: 7.2/10- Opening with a scene in ancient Egypt, the film shows how Apocalypse was buried for thousands of years before being resurrected in 1982, the setting of the film. After the events of Days of Future Past, mutants are known by, and in some places, accepted among the general public. The world building is the first thing that stands out. X-Men revisionist history of the 1980s contains many of the familiar pop culture references, which makes the alternate world feel real.
One common criticism is that the first hour of the film is slow, and in some respects, that is valid. Personally, the first hour of collecting Apocalypse's Four Horsemen and the introduction of the new X-Men was entertaining throughout. However, my enjoyment of the buildup might be more so due to my love of the characters and franchise.
Apocalypse's weakest aspect is probably the finale. It's not especially unique compared to other superhero movies, at least narratively speaking. The events that take place are quite different and fun, but the central conflict is ultimately: "Bad guy wants to destroy the world. Good guys try to stop him." For me, it wasn't much of an issue.
X-Men's other weak point is that if you are not invested in the X-Men franchise and remember the previous films, much of the depth is lost. X-Men has been around for 16 years, so the lack of accessibility is certainly an issue. Actually, I have noticed that among younger and new superhero movie fans introduced to the genre during the new MCU era, those fans just do not care about the X-Men. They might go see them in theaters, but the fandom is lacking even half the enthusiasm and voice of the MCU, which is a shame.
Characterization: 8.2/10- Magneto is a highlight in the film. His scenes have so much weight and pathos thanks to Fassbender and the previous development of the character. There is so much emotion to his scenes during the early parts of the film. Unfortunately, he does not play a major role in the middle portion of the film, and the engaging interaction between him and Professor X is minimal. However, everything about his character works so well, despite limited screen time.
Professor X does not have the powerful character arc of Days of Future Past because, at this point, his character is established and stable as he aids the younger generation. Mystique is.... fine the film. Her role serves its purpose in an interesting way for the plot. Hank McCoy, aka Beast, plays a relatively small part as the teacher guiding his students, much like the comics.
Apocalypse, the film's titular antagonist, portrays an interesting type of villainy. Some complain that he lacks menace, partially due to Oscar Isaac's relatively small stature. However, to me, this take on Apocalypse is more of a cult leader giving off an air of benevolence and almost kindness to his followers. Compared to the typical maniacal villain that's trying to takeover the world, Apocalypse's refreshingly calm presence makes for a strong villain. Unfortunately, the finale with Apocalypse is a bit of a letdown after him being such a powerful figure in the comics.
While the other characters all serve their part well, the true standouts are Quicksilver and the new cast members for Scott, Jean, and Nightcrawler. Quicksilver's role and characterization are greatly expanded upon compared to Days of Future Past. And his main scene is absolutely spectacular, easily the best part of the movie; true show stealing stuff. While you might not be able to tell from his part in the original X-Men trilogy, Scott Summers, aka Cyclops, is actually a cool character, almost like the Captain America of the X-Men, so it was great to see a young version of the character being portrayed so well. Jean Grey is equally as stellar in the film, and the subtle romance between the characters is excellently executed. Nightcrawler has been sorely missed from the X-Men films, so it is also great to see his character reestablished. As an X-Men fan, seeing characters other than Wolverine being the focal point is a true pleasure. Storm is also introduced, although her role is smaller, albeit still well executed. With that said, what the heck happened to Jubilee's screen time!?
Direction: 8.5/10- Bryan Singer really knows how to make an X-Men film, despite his reluctance to commit to the classic costumes. His visual style really works, as the film looks and sounds like the 80s. The action sequences, while expectedly inferior to Captain America: Civil War, are rather impressive. The mutant powers on display are fun to watch as no other superheroes have quite the wide range of power sets that the X-Men possess.
Acting: 9.2/10- X-Men's cast is always a highlight and Apocalypse is no exception. Michael Fassbender shines bright with a performance full of gravitas and weight, even more like Sir Ian McKellen's take on the character. Despite having less to do this time around, James McAvoy continues to give a top notch performance. While "phoning-it-in" is an exaggeration, Jennifer Lawrence does not have the type of screen presence compared to her other recent roles, and Nicholas Hoult is always a joy to watch. Oscar Isaac plays the mix of evil and calm excellently as Apocalypse, even if that is not the type of villain viewers expected. Evan Peters’ charisma and charm continues to be a blast to watch as Quicksilver as he steals every scene. Tye Sheridan, Sophie Turner, Kodi Smit-McPhee, and Alexandra Shipp all play the younger versions of classic characters superbly with Turner being the standout as Jean Grey. Everyone else in the cast are good as well.
Special effects: 8.8/10- Aside from the occasional bit of noticeable CGI, X-Men: Apocalypse actually manages a lot of CGI heavy scenes incredibly well with the powers providing very colorful and exciting visuals. Of course, Quicksilver's sequence is the highlight as it almost makes you wonder how the heck did they pull it off!?
Soundtrack: 8.5/10- John Ottman returns to score X-Men: Apocalypse, and his work continues to be high quality and fitting for the film. The use of licensed songs from the 80s added a great sense of fun and familiarity to the period setting.
Humor: 8.7/10- Surprisingly, this is a very funny movie at times. Whether it's Professor X stumbling over his words with MacTaggert or Nightcrawler's clumsiness, the humor is really spot. And again, Quicksilver's scene is brilliant and absolutely hysterical!
Entertainment Value: 9.7/10- As an X-Men fan, X-Men: Apocalypse is a pleasure from beginning to end. The bits of fanservice sprinkled throughout certainly made the film even more fun, especially a certain cameo that was apparently spoiled in a trailer, which I did not see.
Overall: 8.0/10- Making way for the new generation of characters, X-Men: Apocalypse might suffer from a few nagging narrative issues that bring it down from the instant classic territory of the previous two X-Men films, but its exciting new cast, Magneto's riveting scenes, and stunning display of mutant powers makes it a treat for X-Men fans and a fun superhero flick for everyone else. With that said, if you are not invested in, or familiar with the X-Men franchise, the film's score would probably be more of a mid-sevens, rather than a flat eight.
Closing comments: While definitely weaker than either First Class or Days of Future Past, X-Men: Apocalypse is a lot better than the Rotten Tomatoes score gives it credit. Sure, it has flaws, but not every superhero flick can be the masterpiece that is Captain America: Civil War. Below is a review by one of my favorite movie critics and top reviewers on YouTube, Chris Stuckmann, that highlights many of the film's strong points.
Recommended for: X-Men fans, Superhero fans, Action fans,
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