X-Men: Apocalypse sees the rise of the oldest and most formidable mutant that has ever lived, the progenitor of mutants everywhere, En Sabah Nur aka Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac), a nigh omnipotent being who holds contempt and malice for the weak human world. Apocalypse sets about recruiting his four horsemen. The first is a young Storm (Alexandra Shipp), the second is Psylocke (Olivia Munn), the third is Angel (Ben Hardy), and last, but not least is Magneto (Michael Fassbender). Armed with his four horsemen, Apocalypse sets about 'cleansing' the Earth, leaving only the strongest to survive, think of it as a kind of artificial selection, a forced evolution by culling the weak. Apocalypse transfers his consciousness from body to body, and sees that Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) has the ultimate power he's been seeking, the ability to control minds.
With Professor Xavier out of the picture, it's time for a new generation of X-Men to rise to the occasion of battling a near god and his four horsemen to get their Professor back and save the planet. Beast (Nicholas Hoult) and Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) take a leadership role mentoring Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), Cyclops (Tye Sheridan), Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) and Quicksilver (Evan Peters), and it's all, well, very Apocalyptic. The opening sequence was extremely artificial, visually, and I thought it was going to suck. It wasn't until after the opening credits that reminded me of the old simulated rides was over that X-Men: Apocalypse started to find its groove.
I loved seeing most (though not all) of the original X-Men form, and the special attention that was finally given to Cyclops and Jean Grey, although it was admittedly brief, but it was there. Most of the other characters were underdeveloped to a degree, but enjoyable nonetheless. I dreaded that Mystique in her Jennifer Lawrence form was going to take over the narrative, but she remained relatively minor in the bigger picture, she still retained the Jennifer Lawrence form for over 90% of her screen-time though. The Jennifer Lawrence marketing was wildly disproportionate to her actual involvement in the movie. Michael Fassbender provided the emotional crux of the movie and elevated a lot of key scenes, but he didn't share many scenes with McAvoy either. It was great to see Storm finally kick some ass as well, it's about damn time!
The pacing unmistakably hit a couple of lulls in the middle, and the vfx was fairly sketchy in a lot of parts, a lot of poor compositing. It's up to you if you want to let that bother you, but it wasn't particularly jarring for me even though I continually noticed it. The writing was contrived in a couple of parts, especially the magic arrow, you'll know it when you see it, and some of the humor didn't land, at least for me. The Wolverine cameo pissed me off though, totally unnecessary and now it establishes that Wolverine is Hugh Jackman, despite the fact that he's retiring. Never should have been included. There was no need to include Weapon X at this point. I don't want to see Hugh Jackman as the Wolverine ever again, and when the Wolverine does reappear it should be in an R rated movie ala Deadpool, and as a completely reinvented Wolverine.
Apocalypse was a decent villain, menacing and egomaniacal although he was slightly under-powered I thought, but seeing the X-Men united to fight against him was definitely full of pure 'X-Men moments'. The theological elements were welcome as well, even if they were only touched on briefly. Quicksilver once again steals the show in a sequence that's merely an expanded sequence of his abilities as they were seen in Days of Future Past. It was still a very cool sequence, even if it was derivative and tonally erratic considering the circumstances. DC is going to have to do something truly unique with The Flash, because I have to admit that Fox have set the bar pretty high with Quicksilver.
I see a lot of critics and the general audience criticizing Apocalypse for the apparent lack of a middle act, BvS faced similar criticisms. It seems to me that audiences have trouble if a movie, especially a comic book movie deviates from the generally accepted three-act structure. The ending came dangerously close to being overwrought though, and Professor X boxing with Apocalypse just didn't seem right to me. Professor X isn't a pugilist.
If Fox is going to go to such extreme lengths to keep this franchise running, arguably past its used by date, then at least make sure the continuity of the franchise makes sense. DoFP was nothing but a glorified retcon of the franchise, but even that retcon only went so far. Deadpool said it best.
I still think that X-Men: First Class is the best X-Men movie and should have been a clean reboot, but X-Men: Apocalypse is easily the second best. It was exciting, thrilling, emotional and actually felt like a proper X-Men movie. I will say though that Apocalypse revealed far too much in its trailers, but all the other comic book movies this year are guilty of the same thing. Deadpool, BvS and Civil War all did the same thing. I understand wanting to promote your movie and wanting to put its best foot forward in its trailers, but sometimes less is more. Show a little more restraint. Even though the constant inconsistencies with the growing roster of characters, their motivations, and the timeline itself all irritate me to no end in the X-Men franchise and how Fox are so flippant about them, I still enjoyed Apocalypse. Even if I don't agree with how Fox are handling their 'X' properties in general or how the movie ended, specifically regarding Mystique. Apocalypse is still my second favorite entry in the X-Men franchise.
Written by - The Sentry - 19/05/2016