» Blog Archive Spoiler Free X-Men: Apocalypse Review -

xmenapocalypseimax-1I’ve accepted by this point that the X-Men movies are, simply put, interpretations of the source material. You could argue that the the actual Marvel Studios films are more faithful and better than Fox’s version of the X-Men, but the series has lasted sixteen years now, rebooted itself, and even allowed Deadpool a second chance at redemption. Even with First Class and Days of Future Past being as great as they are, one must digest the fact that Fox will take creative liberties with the characters, all the while still paying respects to key elements in the lore.

So what exactly is up with Apocalypse, then? Why are the reviews bringing it down so much? I honestly wish I could answer that, as I did enjoy it. Maybe not as much as the two in the main series before it (Certainly not as much as Deadpool) but maybe more than the first film? Definitely more than The Last Stand and Origins. X-2 definitely is the better film. Yes, Apocalypse sits in the middle of the franchise’s ranking, but anyone can tell you that X-Men films are either at least pretty damn good or complete, utter trash. My job is to review the film as it is, not critique it on how it interprets the source, despite how things may irk me about it.

hqyqxvfnbce8jfpwptqnSet ten years after Days of Future Past, Apocalypse revolves around the first mutant, En Sabah Nur, reawakening and attempting to, ultimately, destroy the world. Giving enhanced powers to his Four Horsemen, (Storm, Magneto, Psylocke, and Angel) Apocalypse and his powers are a natural disaster that only an all-power mutant is capable of.

If you’ve seen the trailer for the movie, you essentially have a template in mind for how the film is going to go. There are certainly surprises along the way, like another amazing sequence involving Quicksilver, but those are best left to be experienced upon a proper first viewing. The story goes along just fine and rarely stutters, but those problems tie into other gripes with the film best discussed later on.

It has come to be expected at this point that both Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy are excellent as Magneto and Professor X. There’s no point in continuing to discuss this aspect, but what’s worth noting is that while these two are in fine form with these characters, it’s X-Men newcomer Sophie Turner (Game of Thrones) who steals the spotlight. Jean Grey is much younger than we saw her in the previous trilogy, and only just discovering her powers’ true potential. Die-hard fans know what this alludes to, and as this was done underwhelmingly in the original trilogy, but the foreshadowing is done just enough build more than enough hype for what’s to come for the character. Her humor is dry and often self-aware, but it’s when she does actual Jean Grey things that you realize that she’s a welcome addition to the cast.

That’s not to say the newcomers aren’t worth noting. Tye Sheridan fills the role of a young Cyclops nicely and seems to be promising going forward, as does Kodi Smit-McPhee as Nightcrawler, who has an enjoyable fight or two throughout the film, despite being predominantly a means to teleport and change from scene to scene. It is nice, however, to see these characters return in some form after being absent from the series for so long.

X-Men-Apocalypse-Poster-No-Text.0.0Representing these characters also comes down to using their powers faithfully, as the film no doubt does. The effects, however, are questionable throughout the film’s duration. Make no mistake, there is CGI everywhere in this movie, especially leading into the film’s third act where most of the carnage takes place, but almost immediately in the film do you start noticing poorly done green screens, poorly rendered proops flying off, and just instances of general crappyness in between some standard work. You don’t need a trained eye for seeing these missteps, but I expect those with a habit for noticing to be irked.

But at least if they got the powers right, the characters must be good? This is where the film’s gripes come into play, as the film nails characters or at least shows promise or just neglects them completely. Psylocke, for instance, looks and fights like you would expect her to. Olivia Munn is distractingly attractive, as well, which is sure enough to make fanboys happy that nearly everything is perfect. Her flaw (And Angel’s, for that matter) is that there is no depth to their character. A few moments of speaking, and that’s all these characters are given, aside from context clues from an appropriate background music choice if Metallica’s “The Four Horsemen” or defying a higher figure in their life and nothing more. The film is crowded, and it is obvious that some fat could have been trimmed to add more depth to these characters or simply add in more scenes. It’s a long film by some standards (Two hours and fifteen minutes) but clearly some things in the film could have been trimmed in favor of more developing scenes.

X-Men-Apocalypse-Oscar-IsaacIn particular, this refers to Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique. I tend to not be a fan of Jennifer Lawrence, but in the X-Men films I have been accepting of her presence, especially since she was interwoven in the plot. In Apocalypse, however, Mystique feels forced and an unnecessary asset to getting Nightcrawler to the X-Mansion and some pep-talk moments. Very little is X-Men-Apocalypse-101done with her, Professor X, and Magneto to warrant an appearance, when a cameo could have been much better suited for her. In particular, her role becomes questionable in the film’s
third act, as the team that goes in to deal with Apocalypse and his Horsemen are all capable of fighting, but Mystique simply is just there. There are motions in the film that one could be argued for her placement in the film, but everything could have been done the same with Professor X. Y’know, his best friend. The problems surrounding Mystique are prevalent, even to the point of contradicting her character in the past films: Lawrence isn’t the only actress to complain about the body paint for Mystique, and it’s clear that her motivations in the film reflect that, as she spends most of the film disguised as a human. “Mutant and proud” is gone, but don’t worry, you get to see Jennifer Lawrence’s face. Take that as you will, but perhaps if Lawrence hadn’t been involved, the film could have used that extra money from her paycheck to do a better job touching up the CGI.

Oscar Isaac plays the titular character, serving as the antagonist to the film. Usually an excellent actor, Isaac does a suitable job as the villain, his presence usually provoking confused reactions from the characters. Apocalypse certainly is a presence to be felt, and Isaac does his best with what he’s given. Still, the character’s writing seems off, in the sense that when he is able to sink people into quicksand or turn matter into dust, he would make use of the powers more often. Still, even with this plot hole of an unbelievably powerful character, Isaac makes the villain worthy of the “Apocalypse” title.

Apocalypse is not perfect nor great, but it’s a good time and a solid way to move into the summer. Not emotionally exhausting like Civil War or Batman v Superman (Again, take that as you will) but not overstepping its bounds, it manages to provide an entertaining film that might be just a bit overstuffed, but only just a bit. The story makes sense, the old X-Men characters return, and the series starts to form into the X-Men we all know and love. Should we be in a time period in which X-Men movies maintain an average of “good” at the very least, then I’ll be fine with that.

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