So there is a new X-men movie coming. It is the sixth X movie featuring the main team ,and the third of the rebooted series that see the X-men facing off against big bad Apocalypse.
I have to be honest; I HATE the X-men films. The first X-men left me hollow and muttering variations of WTF; and every other entry until First Class I pretend does not exist.
Look, my first comic was X-men, I know the X-men, and I am sorry but this series of films have never come close to being the X-men.
(However, if you like them COOL)
Okay for this review I am going to SPOIL parts of this film so you have been warned.
The short of it is X-men: Apocalypse is fine but not great. McAvoy and Fassbender are great. Oscar Isaac is lost behind the makeup and Apocalypse is lost behind the script. A lot of characters are straight up wasted. And there is both a Wolverine cameo and an Easter egg.
X-men: Apocalypse is a decent film. In my opinion it’s better than the first 3 X films and fits nicely within the rebooted trilogy started with X-men: First Class. If you liked the previous films, you’ll likely like this one.
Spoilers Begin HERE
X-men: Apocalypse takes place in 1983 and focuses on a world transformed by the act of Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) saving Richard Nixon from Magneto (Michael Fassbender) dropping a stadium on him. A decade has past between the last outing (Days of Future Past). Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) has opened his School for Gifted Youngsters with help from Hank “Beast” McCoy (Nicholas Hoult).
Mystique has become the face of Mutant liberation and a symbol for the new generation of mutant youth; she is also going around as a one woman Mutant Liberation Front freeing mutants being abused by humans. Magneto went into hiding in Poland and works in a metal factory; he also has married and had a daughter.
Then Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) shows up and messes it up for EVERYBODY.
Those are some of the broad strokes of this movie.
Yes I left out the part where this is the movie where we reintroduce Cyclops (Tye Sheridan), Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee), and Storm (Alexadra Shipp). We are introduced to Psylocke (Olivia Munn) and Angel (Ben Hardy). Rose Byrne returns as CIA agent Moira MacTaggert while Hugh Jackman makes his required appearance as Wolverine. And yes Evan Peters is back as Quicksilver.
Apocalypse’s problem is it rehashes storylines handled better in previous movies and it neglects what it is supposed to be doing with a new story.
The drama of Magneto overwhelms all including Apocalypse. The movie’s bad guy is Apocalypse and he is supposed to be remaking the world in his image. Yet his sole purpose seems to be as a plot device to once more ensnare Magneto into a place where he dons the metal helmet. And this focus takes away time from the other Horsemen. And this leads into the other issue.
(Seriously the makeup is better but not much. Also Angel as character was majorly changed by his encounter with Apocalypse both physically and mentally; perfect for showing how dangerous Apocalpyse is)
This movie wastes characters. Apocalypse is wasted as a villain; partly because his motivations are vague and also because he’s overwhelmed by Magneto’s presence. Storm and Psylocke appear to be made Horsemen because they’re X-men. Angel is a Horseman because he was one in comics. In fact in a story about Apocalypse it’s weird that Angel is a side character because out of every character involved, his is actually the one arc that is tied to Apocalypse from the comics. Alexandra Shipp’s Storm is the only Horseman, outside dear Eric, that gets a proper setup.
Psylocke is their to be a pinup poster. Olivia Munn gets five or six lines and an action scene. They hint about a connection with Ben Hardy’s Angel (because it’s in the comics) and she is security for a people smuggler. Other than that Munn is there to be in a costume this character stopped wearing sometime in the early 2000s.
(Betsy Braddock aka Psylocke started life as a purpled haired psychic who worked for the British version of SHIELD. She was also white until she was body swaped in the nineties. How come she couldn’t have been a spy working with Moira)
On the X-men side Cyclops and Nightcrawler get interesting introductions. Cyclops’s mutant ability happens in the middle of a John Hughes movie, with an appearance by Aly Sheedy. McPhee’s Nightcrawler shows up in cage match with Angel and is rescued by Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique. Flashing to Xavier’s you get your first look at Sophie Turner as Jean Grey and her first encounter with Sheridan’s Cyclops. Actually I like the new cast and my only issue is we don’t get enough of them interacting with each other. And yes I know Jubilee is in this but honestly she is there as a walking Easter egg. Plus she is a 90’s baby (Generation X 4 Life).
Havok shows up to bring his baby brother Scott to Xavier so he can control his powers. He also shows up so we can take Charles to see almost love Moira MacTaggert. MacTaggert is back because once again she has uncovered another mutant conspiracy, this time the reawakening of the first mutant Apocalypse. Then we’re treated to the uncomfortable in retrospect interaction between Xavier and the woman he fell in love with then mindwiped and occaisonally stalks with Cerebro.
(Can I just say it still weirds me out they made Havok the older brother? Also Havok without Polaris is like Peas without carrotts)
Wih MacTaggert in tow the various X-men and storylines start to merge. Mystique shows up with Nightcrawler in tow; Xavier and Alex with Moira and they all go down to Cerebro to catch up with Apocalypse and his Horsemen.
I will admit I am glacing over Apocalypse’s opening which sees the Isaac’s transformation into Apocalypse and Magneto’s life in Poland. The opening to Apocaloypse was cool and heavy on the action. Magneto in Poland was just another setup to drag old Eric back into the purple helmet business.
So then Quicksilver shows up (after Apocalypse and crew teleport in to kidnapp Xavier and Havok needlesly dies trying to stop them) to the Eurythmics. Yes a speedforce scene with Peters as Quicksilver is one of the best action scenes (so good he gets two). He’s there to find Magneto and tell him he’s his father and comes just in time to save everyone, but Havok, from an exploding X-Mansion (another staple of 80’s X-Men).
So as we come toward this film’s climax we have one more interlude so that we can have the required Wolverine fan service. This interlude allows us to gather the requisite mutants for the last battle, for them to have access uniforms and a vehicle, and for Hugh Jackman to recreate Barry Windsor-Smith’s Weapon X mini-series.
Now the battle begins with Mystique and Quicksilver going after Magneto and Nightcrawler after Professor X. It’s good action and yes it leads to psychic warfare and Jean Grey going a little fiery.
Now let me restate I LIKE this movie. But it is far from great. Characters are waisted and in hindsight it feels like this movie ends like every X-Men movie does; Professor X and Magneto talking about the merits of their philosophies.
This would’ve been fine if Days of Future Past hadn’t done a better job of bringing these characters to the point where we know them today. Mystique becoming both an X-Man and it’s first leader is an interesting turn but not explored. We spend so much time getting reacquainted with the regulars that new characters are left idle.
I honestly feel like Magneto’s presence hurt Isaac’s Apocalypse and took up space that could’ve been used by other characters. And some story arcs like Xavier revealing he wiped MacTaggert’s mind are papered over to get to a sort of happy ending. And the impact of the battle and death’s like Havok aren’t really felt. The biggest issue is Singer as assembled a great cast and interesting aesthtics and couldn’t juggle either well enough to be great.
(Okay this movie is set in the 80’s and I know this series of films will NEVER be faithful to material the way I want, but damn no Longshot and Dazzler! SHAME)