There have been a lot of superhero films over the years, various companies, various franchises and now various “cinematic universes” seem to be all the rage these days. The X-Men films have been there from the beginning, it can be argued their first film was responsible for the modern superhero film boom. With X-Men: Apocalypse, the ninth film in the franchise and the third film with the “prequel” cast how is the franchise holding up?
It’s holding up fine, this isn’t the franchises best but it isn’t the worst, I was really entertained by X-Men: Apocalypse but it did have some noticeable issues. That said, if you’re a fan of the X-Men you’re gonna have a blast with this film, parts of this film was like watching the classic cartoon from the 90’s however no appearance from the theme song (*shakes fist in the air* One Day). The strongest pieces of the film are its heroes, the returning cast and new additions to the mutant team are fantastic most notably James McAvoy as Charles Xavier, Evan Peters as Quicksilver and the finally after FOURTEEN YEARS the glorious return of Nightcrawler!!!!!.
Kodi Smit-McPhee, Ty Sheridan and Sophie Turner work well as the new students but most but the story puts a focus to Sheridan’s and Turner’s performance as Scott Summers and Jean Grey where McPhee as Nightcrawler was more awesome comic relief. James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender returning as Professor X and Magento, both are brilliant as their characters and the beginning of the film really works in Fassbender’s favour while the end of the film serves McAvoy. Jennifer Lawerence’s return as Mystique also surprised me, her character’s storyline worked well for me and the reasoning behind her leadership role and lack of blue make-up in the film worked for me. Finally Days of Future Past breakout star Evan Peters returns as Quicksilver, however his storyline never come to fruition, he gets to have his epic moments with his speed but otherwise he doesn’t really serve much to the film.
The heroes work well and besides the titular villain Apocalypse played by Oscar Issac and Fassbender’s Magneto, the rest of these antagonists are forgettable. Alexandra Shipp, Olivia Munn and Ben Hardy as Storm, Psylocke and Angel get very little development and don’t live up to the title of “Four Horseman of the Apocalypse”. The motivations for Apocalypse is there but his followers doesn’t work, he enhances their powers but after that they have no dialogue or moments to explain their devotion to Apocalypse’s cause. This limited development of the characters really undercuts the final act of the film when the X-Men and the Horseman face off, its fun to watch but as emotionally compelling as it could be. Future teammates Storm and Cyclops are trying to kill each other and the audience can’t get an emotional reaction from that within the film.
I personally loved Oscar Issac as Apocalypse, his performance had me from the beginning, his rage against 1980’s society was interesting to watch and their was one sequence in particular with him that had me on the edge of my seat. The issues with the “look” or “makeup” aren’t issues at all, he’s a great villain and with frightening plan and was a formidable opponent for the X-Men. The performance’s weaknesses come from the script, it feels spread thin and leaves many elements incomplete or lacking. especially with the villains, Issac is great but I had the feeling that he could have been so much more with stronger material. The same can be said with the rest of the film, I throughly enjoyed watching this film but left feeling that the film could have had a tighter structure and brought a stronger thematic relevance, the setting is the 1980’s and a God-like being emerges to destroy the world, what kind of historical reaction would we have. The X-Men stories have always been an allegory for prejudice in society and have been prevalent themes in previous films but here the film’s trying to cover so many different characters that the themes of the film are lost.
The action sequences are great, the film tops the Quicksilver scene and has some really surprising and exciting set pieces. The film is never boring as it moves you through the action as director Bryan Singer has always had a knack for showing how incredible mutant powers can be. Apocalypse has the ability to enhance these abilities so we see characters like Professor X and Magneto do extraordinary things, it’s all CGI but to watch Magneto literally rip the infrastructure of the world apart or to have America witness every nuclear weapon firing into the sky gives the film some of its most memorable moments. I think the second act cameo worked really well, despite knowing it was coming the suspense of the appearance was maintained and made for a really violent sequence. I’d say the best sequence was Quicksilver’s, the film clearly wanted to outdo Days of Future Past and they do, it’s an amazing scene. The issue with the action is the script issues, the sense of danger is lacking unlike previous X-Men films the scenes in Apocalypse its more spectacle than substance.
This is an enjoyable film and the issues with the film aren’t an issue when you’re watching it, the become obvious when you’re reflecting back on the film. As an X-Men fan they’re moments where I was really geeking out but those script and pacing issues hold this film back. This is the weakest of the Singer X-Men films but the last scene of the film was like watching the 90’s cartoon series come to life on-screen so I’m still excited for the future. In Apocalypse‘s case this is still a fine addition to the franchise with its own incredible moments so if you are a fan of the X-Men this is definitely a film for you. Nightcralwer is back in the X-Men films that’s reason enough to see this.