I don’t know. I just don’t know. I think I need someone to tell me how I’m supposed to feel about X-Men: Apocalypse (XMA). I liked it for the most part but the entire exercise felt uninspired and the crappy 3D presentation in the theater we saw it in didn’t help matters. Most of the movie looked muddled and washed out.
People love to rag on the X-Men franchise and Fox. But personally, other than the overuse of Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and perhaps the 3rd movie, I’ve loved these films. I still think X2 is one of the best Superhero films of all time. It set the bar and the first X-Men film introduced the world to the idea of more complex cinema heroes. So let’s give the franchise credit where it’s due. One bad movie doesn’t invalidate an entire franchise. If that’s the case there would be no hope for Star Wars after Return of the Jedi.
Director Bryan Singer will always get mad props from me for being able to create and establish this complex world and ushering in the revival of the modern Superhero film. We wouldn’t have these nice toys if not for the first X-Men movie in 2000. Think about that 16 yrs ago Super Hero films were all but dead.
There’s a real weight to the world that the X-Men occupy. They are hunted and despised by the world purely because they are different and feared. Yet they still try fight for humanity in the vain hope that somehow people will come around. It’s been the central theme between Xavier (James McAvoy) and Magneto since the beginning. As I said in my original review of the X-Men, Xavier is the peace loving, go along, get along MLK, while Magneto (Michael Fassbender) is the bomb throwing by any means necessary Malcom X.
Everytime Magneto tries to live a normal and quiet life something goes horribly wrong. After the events of X-Men 1st Class he’s living a quiet life in Poland or Russia (couldn’t quite tell where) with his wife and child when an accident happens that causes his identity to be revealed to the local villagers. Of course they turn on him and his family is killed in the crossfire. Of course this, rightly, sends him over the edge and into the loving, waiting arms of Apocalypse.
Rumored to be the very first mutant, Apocalypse is the ultimate all powerful mutant. So we’re told, over and over again. Problem is, he is also one of the most boring protagonist in a while. He structs and looks menacing instead of actually doing much of anything. Apocalypse is supposed to inspire fear and as an audience member, I should want to say “Oh, fuck!” I had no idea what his master plan was. At one point he says that “All will be revealed later,” but it never was.
His mutant power must be his silver tongue because he’s able to convince several mutants including Angel (Ben Hardy), Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Psylocke (Olivia Munn) and Magneto to become his harbingers of death. Problem is for a large chunk of this 2 1/2 hour film they literally don’t do anything except stand behind Apocalypse and scowl. I mean even Magneto is rendered mute.
None of the new casting in this film works particularly well. I know the film is set in the 80s but couldn’t they have found better people to play young Scott, Nightcrawler, Storm, Jubilee, etc. No one fit their characters. The film put all their eggs in the Jennifer Lawrence. After her actions in the last film, Mystique is now a hero and inspiration to young mutants around the world.
The issue with this film is that aside from the weird casting choices it seemed fairly low budget. The visual effects weren’t awe inspiring and didn’t do much to push the story along. There’s a moment in the film where Apocalypse does something on a grand scale to scare the entire world, but there’s no real world consequences or story payoff for his actions. When the big fight finally happened at the end, it seemed way too obvious they were on a soundstage and fighting in an empty building.
While X-Men: Apocalypse felt long at times and like it was just a rehash of the first two films, I didn’t walk away hating it. However it is getting long in the tooth and it’s time for them to take the franchise in a new direction, I really want them to come back to the modern world. While mostly enjoyable, I’m not entirely clear what the point of these prequels were.
Final Grade B-