NOT THE MOST THOUGHT-PROVOKING INSTALLMENT OF THE X-MEN SAGA, BUT THE FILM CRANKS UP THE SUMMER POPCORN FUN TO FULL FORCE!
By Nico Beland
Movie Review: B (3 stars)
20TH CENTURY FOX AND MARVEL ENTERTAINMENT
(From left to right) Jean, Beast, Storm, Raven (Mystique), Charles Xavier, Magneto, Nightcrawler, Psylocke, Angel, Quicksilver, and Cyclops in a mutant VS mutant war in X-Men: Apocalypse
Director Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects, Superman Returns, Jack the Giant Slayer) returns to the world of mutants in the anticipated follow-up to the 2014 critically and commercially successful Marvel Comics hit, X-Men:Days of Future Past. Marvel’s X-Men film franchise has come quite a long way and each time they tackle something different and new, from mutant heroes teaming up with enemies to stop an evil plan to destroy all mutants in X2: X-Men United, to time travel and change the past to save the future in X-Men: Days of Future Past, to R-rated dark humor and bloody violence in Deadpool, which came out earlier this year.
After the surprise success of the R-rated Deadpool, the X-Men franchise goes back to its roots with X-Men: Apocalypse, the ninth installment of the franchise and set after the events of X-Men: Days of Future Past, but before Professor X becomes Patrick Stewart. This film also marks the first time where two X-Men related films are released in the same year, we had Deadpool in February, now we have this.
X-Men: Days of Future Past is a very hard movie to follow-up on, with its complex ideas and balance between wit, thought, and flashy action sequences and special effects. Does X-Men: Apocalypse successfully follow it up? Not entirely, it’s nowhere near terrible or even bad. Really, it’s about the same opinion I had on 2006’s X-Men 3: The Last Stand where it had lots of superhero action but not much clever storytelling as its earlier installments, not to mention some underdeveloped fan service characters that really don’t add to much, but there’s not as much of it as The Last Stand.
After Magneto’s (Michael Fassbender-Prometheus, 12 Years A Slave, Steve Jobs) attack on Washington D.C. we find Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy-The Last King of Scotland, Atonement, Victor Frankenstein) running his school for mutants in hopes to one day transform his school into a university for both humans and mutants together. However, he meets up with CIA agent, Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne-Bridesmaids, Neighbors, Spy) who had her memory erased from the last time she saw Charles on the Cuba island when Eric fully transformed into Magneto, and she informs him that there have been mutants living for over a million years and the world’s first mutant is the almighty, Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac-Inside Llewyn Davis, Ex-Machina, Star Wars: The Force Awakens) who plans to cleanse the Earth by tempting mutants to rise up and destroy all of mankind.
Who can stop him? Well, the X-Men, Charles, shape-shifting Raven/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence-The Hunger Games franchise, American Hustle, Joy), Beast (Nicholas Hoult-Warm Bodies, Jack the Giant Slayer, Mad Max: Fury Road), telepathic and telekinetic, Jean Grey (Sophie Turner-Game of Thrones, Another Me, Barely Lethal), optic beam blasting, Cyclops (Tye Sheridan-The Tree of Life, Mud, Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse), superfast and cocky, Quicksilver (Evan Peters-Never Back Down, Kick-Ass, Elvis & Nixon), and fan-favorites like Wolverine (Hugh Jackman-The Prestige, Real Steel, Eddie the Eagle), Jubilee (Lana Condor), and Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee-Let Me In, ParaNorman, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes). However, stopping Apocalypse won’t be easy because he’s practically a God and he has his own followers including Magneto, weather controlling mutant, Storm (Alexandra Shipp-House of Anubis, Days of Our Lives, Straight Outta Compton), and telepathic and telekinetic mutant with the ability to project psychic powers, Psylocke (Olivia Munn-Attack of the Show, Date Night, Iron Man 2), it’s X-Men VS Apocalypse before the apocalypse actually happens.
Overall, X-Men: Apocalypse is a decent installment in the X-Men film franchise, it delivers a lot of superhero action and humor to make for a fun time at the movies this summer. However, in terms of storytelling and complex character development it feels like a step backwards from the cleverly thrilling, X-Men: Days of Future Past.
The film focuses more on action but less on story, which isn’t a bad thing really, but X-Men always did an excellent job keeping audiences engaged with flashy action and special effects and complex storytelling and pacing. But with that said, the action and special effects are very good, the characters spend a lot of time on-screen using their mutant powers and fighting each other and there are even a couple more humorous gags involving Quicksilver’s running power, so I can’t say I got nothing out of this film.
One thing that did bother me about the movie though is some mutant characters they brought in don’t add to much of the story, Wolverine is basically a cameo in the film but it makes sense because this isn’t his film and he had the right amount of screen-time he needed for this film so it didn’t bother me that we had only one Wolverine scene. What I did find disappointing was the lack of screen-time for Jubilee and Psylocke, I was looking forward to seeing Jubilee in live-action movie form and watching her fight in the battle because I enjoyed watching her in the 90s X-Men cartoon and Psylocke is around in the film but they don’t give her enough time in the movie to fully develop her character.
If you’re a fan of the X-Men films, you’ll probably enjoy X-Men: Apocalypse, just don’t expect much story with this one. But if you just want some popcorn entertainment for the summer, this is also a fine choice, though I would recommend Captain America: Civil War over it, hopefully The Wolverine 3 will learn from what works in these films and what doesn’t and give us a satisfying farewell to Jackman as the Wolverine character.