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X-Men: Apocalypse Review

Well, I’m here as promised to talk about X-Men: Apocalypse.  Rather than bore you with various one-liners and backstory about my trip to the movies, I’ll just get right into what you’re (hopefully) here for.

X-Men: Apocalpyse was pretty decent.  I’m not going to call it good, but I’m not going to call it bad either.  I’ve seen better movies this year, and I’m pretty sure I’ve seen worse.  It’s entertaining and largely mindless the way a good summer blockbuster should be, but it also skimps on a lot of the panache that a lot of its more successful past and present counterparts have in spades.  Most damaging, though, is the fact that its predecessor, Days of Future Past, was a far better film, and the follow-on nature of this film naturally reminds you of that fact as you go.

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A bright spot – for those of you who enjoyed Quicksilver’s scene in the previous installment, you’re in for another treat this time around.

As for the acting, it was a little scattershot to be honest – Michael Fassbender turns in a predictably solid performance as Magneto following a successful outing in Days of Future Past, and James McAvoy is reasonably convincing as Charles Xavier, but Sophie Turner was lackluster at best as Jean Grey, who – in a turn of events that surprises no one – turns out to be a pivotal player in the global conflict at hand.  Rounding out the major cast is Jennifer Lawrence, who if you ask me kind of mailed it in (we have seen better from her), Kodi Smit-McPhee, who did his best with a small role with few lines, Tye Sheridan, who shows a lot of promise as the next Cyclops, Nicholas Hoult, who plays a great Hank McCoy, and Rose Byrne, whose role, though not entirely inconsequential, certainly feels that way.  Also in the mix: Olivia Munn, who pretty much just chose to wear the same expression for the whole movie, Evan Peters, who provides some of the movie’s best scenes as Quicksilver, and rapidly rising star Oscar Isaac as the self-righteous-to-a-fault megavillain Apocalypse.  So yeah, like I said: scattershot.

Xmen-Magneto

Michael Fassbender leads a hit-or-miss cast as Erik Lehnsherr (Magneto).

A few words on the plot – predictable, predictable, predictable, especially at the end.  Some of the action scenes in X-Men: Apocalypse are truly incredible to behold, and manage to firmly anchor the movie and its decent-to-fair writing to its own spectacle at points, but overall the story itself brought absolutely nothing new to the table.  I acknowledge, of course, that it’s difficult in such a crowded field of similar movies to be original – but at least make an effort.  I will say that some of the subplot involving Magneto’s internal and external struggles was particularly engaging, especially relative to the rest of the movie, but that may have just been a function of some excellent performing by Fassbender.  A couple of the more frustrating elements that pockmark the events of the movie, though:

  • Jean Grey’s general lack of involvement in any sort of fighting.  She’s telepathic!  Smoke ’em if you got ’em!
  • A villain that I’d consider to be at least somewhat cliche.
  • A completely needless Wolverine scene.  Sorry if that’s a spoiler, but I’m really not that sorry, because you should have known by now that he was in it.  Anyways, we get it – Wolverine/Hugh Jackman is awesome and a great character.  It’s time to lay him to rest.
  • A severe lack of character development on the part of Archangel (Ben Hardy).  For being as integral to the plot as he is (as one of Apocalypse’s Four Horsemen), his lack of lines is laughable.
  • A generally unstoppable movement towards the resolution that we all know is coming at the end, with no wild cards played whatsoever.

XMen_Baddies

That’s me on the left.

Alright, now onto one of the good parts.  This is going to sound supremely nerdy, even for a comic book movie review post, but if you ask me, one of the strongest things about this movie that left a lasting impression on me was the score, delivered by John Ottman.  Ottman, though relatively unknown compared to some of the heavy hitters like Hans Zimmer, Michael Giacchino, and others, is no stranger to the art of scoring an X-Men film, having also provided the underlying music for Days of Future Past and X-Men 2, and he came through here.  The main title music especially carries with it a great sense of both distinction and action, delivering something similar to Alan Silvestri’s Avengers theme, but with a bit more pep and a heavier hand on the bravado.

But here it is – I’ll say again that I don’t claim to be an X-Men expert (an X-Pert, you might say), but to me this franchise suffers greatly in its immediate juxtaposition to the more successful and prolific Marvel Cinematic Universe, namely in its planning.  With the MCU, it’s even at this late stage abundantly clear that there was a plan from the beginning for how the stories would adhere to the comics, how the characters and their troubles would interweave, and most importantly, how the entire situation would eventually resolve.  Conversely, with X-Men, the movies feel like they’re taken one at a time, with a weaker sense of collective unity – this might be why I’ve felt for a while that the franchise is settling into its dying days.

In short, it’s cool to see mutants do cool things, but I feel that many audience members such as myself are looking for more than this franchise is willing to consistently give.  However, two things promise a long-winded continuation of the X-Men saga – the boatloads of cash that it brings in (having bought a ticket, I’m obviously part of the problem there, not part of the solution) and a post-credits scene that hints at mysterious happenings to come.  I’m honestly somewhat indifferent with regards to whether or not I’ll ever witness them.

What did you think of X-Men: Apocalypse?  Let us know in the comments!

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