Movie Review│X-Men: Apocalypse

Bryan Singer // Year of release: 2016 // Running time: 2h 24min
Cast: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult… // Watch the trailer

Seen in May 2016

Log Line (from IMDb)

With the emergence of the world’s first mutant, Apocalypse, the X-Men must unite to defeat his extinction level plan.

My thoughts

Let me just preface this by saying a few things: I loved X-Men First Class. I wasn’t impressed with X-Men: Days of Future Past. X-Men were the first ever comic books I ever read (and the only ones I bought religiously every month). I am not a well of knowledge when it comes to the characters or events of the comics. The X-Men movies of the early 2000s were probably the first comic book movies I ever saw, and definitely were the ones that meant the most to me.

All right. X-Men: Apocalypse. The hair and make-up departments had a field day with that one, didn’t they? Poor Havok…

I found that the movie took a while to really kick things off and make me interested/care about what was going on. The whole opening sequence which introduces Apocalypse was a miss for me. I would say that they give just enough to make you understand who the guy basically is, but in some ways, I felt it wasn’t enough. I almost wish we had a separate movie (short film even) in which we could have seen more about Apocalypse. How he came to be worshipped like a God, why he thinks he’s a God (he does, right?), why people follow him, and why others try to defeat him. You wouldn’t need a short film to tell you all that, of course, I just think it would have made the character more interesting. To me, the character of Apocalypse was neither here nor there.
The concept of Apocalypse and his four horsemen is quite nice. But I don’t think they handled it well here. My understanding was that each of the horsemen would have a very specific purpose. And they just did not. It felt like they could have been anybody else and it wouldn’t have made any difference. They’re just his body guards (although he’s freaking Apoalypse and should be the most powerful of all, go figure). Disappointing. Also, I kept forgetting who the horsemen were when they were not all together in the shot. That’s not good.

Back in the day, X-Men and X2 established a world in which mutants exist, but a world that feels grounded into our reality. The Dark Knight trilogy and what the Russo brothers are doing with the Captain America property are direct descendants of that. The new X-Men movies tried to do that in their own way by putting Charles Xavier and his students at the centre of historical events (the Cuba missile crisis of 1962 and the Vietnam War in the 1970s). This movie doesn’t care about that. I would say it is the most comic book-y X-Men film out of all of them (and DoFP was about time travel!). Well, okay, maybe The Last Stand would win, but we don’t talk about that one. The finale of Apocalypse is definitely the most “destructive”.
I saw a YouTube review (I can’t remember by who, though :/ ) which said that there is a lot of destruction in this movie, but very little tragedy. And that is so right! Apocalypse means to end the world, right? (Otherwise why have such a dramatic name?) But we don’t see anything about the world being torn to pieces and on the brink of destruction. Sure we see a cople of bridges being destroyed, and people staring at the sky, but that’s it. At no point in that movie did I feel that anyone (human or mutant) was in actual real peril of seeing their world and lives being annihilated. Which is kind of ironic when the posters say “only the strong will survive”, and basically hint at deaths.

I am extremely conflicted on the case of Magneto and his motivations in the movie. I won’t spoil, which makes it incredibly difficult to try to explain, but basically, after the events of DoFP, he laid low. And that’s just not something I feel the character would actually do. At the same time I see how it makes sense within the story of that movie, but I was just shaking my head when I saw it on screen. But apparently everybody else loved it, so maybe I’m wrong.
Also, is it just me or does Magneto take a back seat in these movies? Since First Class it seems to me that we don’t see enough of him. He’s just in the background.

The young Jean, Scott and Nightcrawler were a source of concern before I went into the movie. In the end, they weren’t bad — the actors did a pretty good job with what they were given — but they weren’t all that either. I don’t know… Scott seemed too smug, Jean too confident, and Kurt too shy. But I love Kurt… Nightcrawler has always been one of my favourite characters, so just seeing him on the screen is a delight.
Although, be warned: if you were excited to see this movie because of Jubilee and Psylocke, just don’t bother.

I was really glad to see that they fixed Quicksilver’s costume. I hated it in DoFP, but now he looks cool! The guy brings a breath of fresh air, but at the same time, this time around, he has some deeper motivations to help the X-Men, and I was really glad to see it. I don’t know the actor (no, I have never watched American Horror Story), but I thought he was great at balancing the comedy with the more dramatic aspect of the character.
Of course, everybody knows Fassbender is great —and everybody will tell you, from all the reviews I’ve seen so far, they all address how awesome Fassbender is. But my personal favourite has always been McAvoy. And! I just love what he does with this character, and you can see that he really gets involved with it (Fassbender as well, they’re both really great actors who could easily phone it in in big productions like this, but they don’t, they really commit, and I love it).

My rating:

For most of the movie, it feels like there is the beginning of a great and interesting idea, but that it just never gets fully developed. Like they tried hard but it just didn’t work for them. Overall it’s messy, and the few good scenes can’t make up for the rest of the movie.

If you want to see my initial reaction right out of the movie theatre, and read my very spoiler-y random thoughts, you can go to my Letterboxd review.

Movie poster found here.

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