Directed by: – Bryan Singer
So when it was announced that he would take reins as director for X-Men: Apocalypse, which is based on the extremely popular Apocalypse saga in the comics and the 90s animated show, it was safe to say fans were jumping with joy. Unfortunately the critics were not so kind to this movie. I didn’t understand why and thought that this may have been as result of Civil War setting a new standard in the Super hero genre. When I got the chance to watch this film, I went into this movie with an open mind and tried not to compare it to the aforementioned movie.
Upon awakening after thousands of years, he is disillusioned with the world as he finds it and recruits a team of powerful mutants, including a disheartened Magneto, (Michael Fassbender), A young female mutant who can control the weather, Storm (Alexandra Shipp); Archangel (Ben Hardy), a mutant with angel wings and Psylocke (Olivia Munn), A katana wielding acrobat with telepathic and telekinetic powers who can also of generate psionic blades. Together these mutants become the four Horsemen of the apocalypse, who want to cleanse mankind and create a new world, order, over which Apocalypse will reign supreme.
- Michael Fassbender delivers a very good performance as Magneto. Fassbender successfully takes the conflicted character to a new low after a tragedy strikes in the film. He also manages to make viewers empathise with his character and understand his actions. Out of the four Horsemen, he is definitely the most developed and is ultimately one of the shining lights in this movie.
- James McAvoy once again gives us a solid performance as Professor Charles Xavier aka Professor X. He is once again charming, funny, brave and compassionate. He’s clearly having fun playing this role and dare I say it, his interpretation of this character is almost a good as Patrick Stewart.
- Oscar Isaac of Star Wars: The force Awakens and Ex-Machinafame does an admirable job portraying Apocalypse despite the fact he doesn’t look anything like the source material. He was very intimidating in this movie and feels like an immediate threat when he makes his appearance on screen however its not a perfect performance as its plagued with issues I will talk about in the cons section.
- Evans Peters steals the show again as Quicksilver. His effort from that crazy scene in X-Men: Days of Future Past has rewarded him with more screen-time in Apocalypse. With the added screen presence, the film gets the opportunity to flesh out his character and give him a proper motivation to join the X-Men. Many thought that his scene in the predecessor couldn’t be topped but Bryan Singer has surpassed it. His action set piece (which I won’t spoil) is by far the best scene in the movie. The scene captures the true power of his abilities and also manages to encapsulate the character’s personality. One can say he does too good a job, as the other sequences, whilst good in their own right don’t compare.
- The younger versions of X-Men characters that appeared in the original trilogy are infinitely more likable than their older counter-parts. Cyclops is a rebel who is trying to accept his powers and not a goody two shoes, which is refreshing. Game of Thrones fans will be happy about Sophie Turners performance, as Jean Grey is good as she gets an opportunity to take the reins as a strong female protagonist who is only scratching the surface of her powers. Night Crawler joins the team with awesome teleportation powers, gets a good amount of screen time in this movie and surprisingly also acts as the comic relief, which I like.
- Though the film does a good job of setting up and explaining Apocalypse’s back-story and the fact that Oscar Isaac does a decent job; his motivation for causing destruction isn’t really explained well and as result comes off as a clichéd villain. It doesn’t help that the character’s design is a bit hideous and doesn’t really respect the source material. He looks like he should be in a Power Rangers episode. This is poor as Apocalypse in the other media is often depicted as a well-layered villain who looks like a threat.
- Bryan Singer’s insistence on giving fans constant service is probably one of the film’s major downfalls. The film attempts to shove as many characters down our throats. I personally don’t mind if they add to the plot, unfortunately that isn’t the case for a lot of them. For example Jubilee (Lana Condor) who many will recognize from the comics and the animated TV was shown off a lot during the film’s marketing. Unlike the other younger members of the team, she doesn’t do a single thing. I don’t even remember if they called her by name in this movie or even see her use her powers and that was a missed opportunity.
- Beast and Mystique have nothing of interest in this movie. This is a shame as Jennifer Laurence and Nicholas Hoult are fantastic actors. You can see that they are disinterested as a result of the script not giving their characters much to do even though they lead the young team of X-Men. What is even odd is that they are in human form for the most the film (they give their reasons but it sounds like a flimsy excuse). It makes one think if this decision was made as a result of budgetary issues or whether it is the executives trying to sell the film on Lawrence’s star power (don’t think Hoult has much of that).
- The beautiful Olivia Munn portrays one of my favourites in the X-men franchise, Psylocke who in this adaptation is selected as one of Apocalypse’s Horsemen. Munn perfectly translates the characters look and abilities onto the sliver screen; unfortunately the script doesn’t really know what do with the character. She hardly gets any character development and other than an upgrade to her powers she really has no legitimate reason to follow Apocalypse. She’s just there to look sexy whilst standing next to apocalypse and playing generic Hench-man (Hench woman) who will fight the X-Men.
- The same issue I had with Psylocke are also present with the other two Horsemen, Archangel & Storm. Once again the movie doesn’t give us enough to time to develop their characters and if any thing they are just there for fan-service. This is particularly disappointing for Archangel as fans of the comics and the 90s animated show recognise that this character had a huge role in original storyline.
- Don’t want to spoil much, but there’s a cameo featuring a huge jacked man (you can put it together who I am talking about). I wish the marketers’ didn’t tease this cameo in the final trailers leading up to the film’s release, as it would have been a pleasant surprise for the fans. This one of the films better attempts at pleasing its fans and it tied itself well with the other films, which at this point has a convoluted timeline as a result of previous events.
- Those who are looking for one action sequence after the other will be massively disappointed as the movie paces itself in a slow and steady manner to set up the final confrontation. In my personal opinion it does build suspense for the encounter with apocalypse and his horsemen but it does get a bit boring in between. Luckily its not completely dull as the film surprisingly has a sense of humour and isn’t totally depressing like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
- Something I really appreciated about the previous films is the relationship between Charles Xavier and Magneto. In the previous movies of the second trilogy (First Class & Days of Future Past) their conflicting ideals formed the centre of the film’s plots as they represented two sides of the mutant debate, unfortunately this aspect of the films take a back seat as we don’t have many scenes where Professor X and Magneto share the screen together and talk about their visions for the world. This is sad as their interaction always neatly condense the wider mutant struggle and as a result of its clear absence, the movie loses some of its emotional weight and complexity.
- Eagle eyed fans of the X-Men films will notice that there are a few inconsistencies with the film as a result of the events of the previous films altering the X-Men movie time-line. For the purposes of not spoiling this movie I won’t talk about them but if you’ve noticed them, you will be able to say that the X-men films are becoming too convoluted for its own good.