Review: X-Men: Apocalypse

xmenapocalypseimax The 2016 follow-up to the critical darling, X-Men: Days of Future Past, had a large hill to climb. Coming off the back of the most ambitious film in the franchise’s history (16 years as of this movie) set the bar incredibly high for the new(er) cast of super powered beings and director Bryan Singer. Sadly, the movie is a massive step back after Fox’s Deadpool film and more significantly the aforementioned X-Men: Days of Future Past (DOFP).

Picking up ten years after DOFP, we find the mutants under the watchful eye of Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) at his school in upstate New York. Things are all relatively safe and sound and back to as normal as one’s life could be as a mutant. However, across the world in Egypt an ancient mutant named En Sabah Nur/Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) lays in stasis after narrowly escaping death thousands of years prior. We are given a well-done introduction to Apocalypse during his reign in ancient Egypt. We get glimpses of his four disciples and their powers. Outside of some very mediocre to poor CGI, this scene worked well to give Apocalypse the sliver of background he needed to more forward. We jump back to present day (the 1980s) were we spend a large amount of time catching up and introducing all the key players in this story. The film comes in at 2 hours and 24 minutes, but 1 hour and 20 minutes is spent on just catching us up and recruiting mutants. Frankly, the first half of this movie is absolutely boring sans a few usual bright spots. Per usual, Magneto’s (Michael Fassbender) personal story is the most interesting to watch. We find him hiding in another country trying to live out his days under a new name with a new family. Eventually circumstances bring him back into the world we know him best to inhabit. While we are on the subject of recruiting and catching up, Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) is now seen as a hero to mutants around the world. For some unexplained reason she takes it upon herself to rescue mutants when she sees fit to do so. It’s rather arbitrary but for the sake of plot it’s shoehorned in.

While the X-Men are all coming together in one place, with new additions to Charles’ school such as classic X-Men like Cyclops (Tye Sheriden), Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee), and Jubilee, we get interspersed moments with Apocalypse as he forms his four horsemen crew. Apocalypse recruits Storm, Angel, Psylocke (Olivia Munn), and eventually a troubled Magneto. The four new villains are like lap dogs to their master and rarely have much in the way of a thought or dialogue. There are a lot of characters to juggle and director Bryan Singer is often praised for his ability to do so. Praise no more; characters that have been pumped up in the trailers barely get two lines of dialogue throughout the entire film. The ones that do have a chance to utter anything during their scenes are worthless as the dialogue is so poorly written. Cheesy moments that should find themselves in the dustbin of history are splattered across the scene and in sincerity. “Wreak havoc!!!!” is an order that is barked to the mutant named Havok, and no it’s not said for laughs. The movie is riddled with these goofy turns of phrase and moments that you should find in some X-men fan fiction but not in a script for a Hollywood film with a $234 million dollar budget. One of the most frustrating moments in this movie is Singer’s use of Quicksilver (Evan Peters). There is nothing new here, and frankly this is far worse than we saw the character before. It has to be one of the most cringe worthy scenes in a comic book movie it quite a while. This is the X-Men franchise’s “MARTHA!!!!” moment.

In the end, Oscar Isaac’s Apocalypse does not do much more than yell platitudes, give a few pep talks, and look mildly menacing. From a narrative perspective this is a bloated boring mess. From a nerd perspective, I can’t believe this is what they thought would be a good follow up to X-Men: Days of Future Past. While the stakes are supposed to be world ending, they instead come off as just a joke. Last but certainly not least, nothing about Wolverine’s involvement made the movie better or worse. It’s just a shoehorned in fan service scene that won’t change the tone or execution of the film. Once again, the third movie in an X-Men series is the worst. Congrats, Bryan Singer you got a chance to ruin the third movie this time instead of Brett Ratner.

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