Is the world coming to an end or are we waiting for the end… of this movie? X-Men: Apocalypse is an ambitious movie as it strives to introduce us to an established mutant universe, launch brand new actors playing our favorite mutants while bringing us the greatest villain within the mutant universe… Apocalypse!
Because of that, instead of rewarding us with the epic ending of an outstanding trilogy, (First Class, Days of Future Past, Apocalypse) we are fed another unfulfilling start from a movie more concerned with furthering the X-Men franchise.
If there is anything that can derail the ever popular Superhero movie genre is the growing notion that each movie has to be a setup for future movies within that franchise. By doing that, what these films forget to do is tell a compelling story, providing more foreshadowing than narrative. “Batman V Superman” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron” both fell into this trap, a trap that unfortunately caught “X-Men Apocalypse.”
Fox Pictures the studio behind the X Men, felt the need to reboot their franchise after the harsh criticism from “X-Men Last Stand”, the final movie in their original trilogy of X-Men films. Ever since then, the X-Men franchise has been in a constant state of reboot.
Starting with “X-Men First Class” that film effectively gave us the stellar retelling of the Magneto and Professor X origins with new actors at the helm, taking us back to the 60’s, thus justifying the reboot. But then director Bryan Singer, the original filmmaker of the X-Men films, returned to reclaim the X-Men franchise.
Singer felt the need to destroy the timeline and events established from the disliked movie “X-Men Last Stand” that he perceived ruined his original trilogy. So his follow-up movie “X-Men Days of Future Past,” while an awesome film, rebooted the X-Men timeline once again, leaving us where we find ourselves today with “X-Men Apocalypse “.
The strengths of “X-Men Apocalypse” are the opening sequence, the origins of our big bad… Apocalypse, along with a better depiction of the gifted X-Men school. The movie does a good job setting up the framework of the new timeline which now takes place in the 80’s by introducing us to the new actors who will lead all future X-Men movies.
The origins of Cyclops (Tye Sheridan), Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) and Storm (Alexandria Shipp) are tastefully done and with the increased role for Quicksilver (Evan Peters), the next wave of X-Men films are in very capable hands. Finally we are exposed to the budding relationship of Cyclops and Jean, and when these 2 along with Nightcrawler are on missions together, you will cry a happy tear because you feel you are watching scenes straight from the comics. But after the movie sets up a solid premise, and the believability of the new actors, it begins to unravel.
What made this trilogy so strong was the banter and interchanges between Professor X (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) and this movie gives us little of that. It forces us to digest more of Raven/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) and tolerating other over stated cameos and role players.
Which leads us to a third act of the movie that is truly unsatisfying and at times poorly executed – as Apocalypse’s plan is weak, and his necessity of four underlings is never fully developed or rendered unconvincing.
“X-Men Apocalypse” is a decent action movie filled with enough action scenes to make it worthwhile and justify expensive popcorn and soda. There is no need to see the film in 3D as that format exacerbates the flaws of the special effects’ execution more than enhancing the film or the experience. If the movie hadn’t been bogged down with extending the future of the X-Men franchise, perhaps we would have been given the emotional weight of Apocalypse and his true menacing desire to save the world. When the movie ends, we are still waiting for the “X-Men Apocalypse” to show up.
Darryl King is a video director, film writer and avid Marvel/DC comic book/movie lover. Check out his reviews of Captain America: Civil War, Deadpool, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and his primer guide to Captain America: Civil War right here on MMT.