X-Men: Apocalypse Review

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So I had an opportunity to see this film on Sunday and I wanted to sit on this one and really reflect on it.  But here’s the review.

X-Men: Apocalypse continues Bryan Singer’s X-Men saga.  It started with X-Men: First Class (yeah, yeah, Matthew Vaughn directed that one), X-Men: Days of Future Past and now this one.  After being awaken, the first mutant Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) looks to take over the world in his own eyes.  He gathers his 4 Horseman (Magneto played by Michael Fassbender, Storm played by Alexandria Shipp, Psylocke played by Olivia Munn and Angel played by Ben Hardy).  Now it is time for Professor Xavier (James McAvoy) and his X-Men to battle Apocalypse and stop him from destroying the world.

There were some really good things about this film.  First, I thought Michael Fassbender did a phenomenal job as Magneto, again.  There was a scene in the woods that completely explains his alliance with Apocalypse.  I also thought that Apocalypse’s origin and arc was told quite well.  Oscar Isaac brought a certain gravitas to the role.  When he spoke it was hard not to pay attention.  It was like being talked to by a governor, a president or a principal.  I was sucked in every time.  Sometimes the words weren’t the best but the only reaction was to nod my head and think “that was magically artistic.”

I really liked the introduction of the new group of mutants: Cyclops (Tye Sheridan), Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) and Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee).  I’m really interested and curious as to how it all works out.  By the way, getting into spoiler territory for this next bit, you’ve been warned.

SPOILERS

HOLY SHIT!  The Phoenix Force didn’t just make an appearance, it downright crushed it, son!  Uh, excuse me, this is the Phoenix Force, I believe I’m here to KICK YOUR ASS.  I definitely marked out when that happened.

SPOILERS END

Anyway, I also enjoyed the action sequences.  They were fun and good popcorn material.  Speaking of fun popcorn material, Quicksilver (Evan Peters) stole the whole film for me.  The guy was great AGAIN as Quicksilver.  Every time he was on screen you are totally entertained.  The visuals for him were spectacular.  On the list of “most impressive ways to avoid disaster” Quicksilver is in the top 3.  The guy just knows how to get out of a bind and look cool doing it.  Also when he WENT off on Apocalypse I really liked that sequence as well.

Now onto some of the things I didn’t like.  I actually didn’t like Sophie Turner’s performance.  The way the character was introduced, yeah, it was good.  The way her arc was, yeah, it was fine.  However, the way she portrayed it?  Nope, not having it.  I felt like she was a weak part in it.  I was expecting more from here, especially from the trailers.  I also did not like Jennifer Lawrence’s performance in this.  I felt like she was weak and, quite honestly, phoning it in.  She seemed to just go through the motions.  In fact, most of the recurring X-Men were like that.  Mystique and Beast were quite forgettable, as well was Psylocke.

The other issue I had with this film was the lack of character depth, especially for the other 3 Horsemen and Apocalypse.  While Oscar Isaac did great with what he was given, it wasn’t very much.  I felt like the way his character approached the world was lazy.  I thought that there could have been some cool parts where Apocalypse was really learning about the world.  This guy was a God who lorded over man and mutant alike; he wouldn’t want to kill them all.  He would want to rule them all.  I think overstating his God complex to the nth degree would have been awesome.

The 3 Horsemen outside of Magneto needed work, too.  There could have been simple character arcs where it was obvious and understandable why they would join Apocalypse and his quest for power; there are also ways to explain why some turned and some didn’t.  I felt like there were some missed beats and opportunities in this film to explore that because there are some really cool and interesting motivations that could have happened.

While I enjoyed the vast majority of the action sequences, there were some that were either lazy, silly or drawn out.  Magneto’s role in the action is definitely one of those, as is the sequence with Jean Grey.  It felt like it took 30 minutes before she finally unleashed her full power and it was starting to get annoying.

The other thing that was annoying was the end game.  The destruction of the world and the survivors will help Apocalypse build a better one.  So some parts of the destruction felt like destruction porn: it was just being destroyed to be destroyed (other examples of destruction porn: Man of Steel and any of the Michael Bay Transformers films).  Things are being destroyed with no real emotional connection.  We’ve seen this so many times that it doesn’t have the same weight.  I was taken out of the film because of this cliché.  That was something I was very disappointed in.  I had no emotion in the climactic battle.  I think what this shows is that film makers need to start being more creative with the action: not visually but story telling wise.  Here’s a good example.  In professional wrestling, there can be a ton of flippy, athletic moves that can be done but if there’s no story to be told or if there is no impact on those moves, it doesn’t matter a lick.  You know who’s famous for being a flippy floppy wrestler?  Amazing Red.  Heard of him?  Probably not.  You know who was famous for telling a great story and selling the impact of moves?  Shawn Michaels, Triple H and the Rock.  You might have heard of those guys.  The point is that it’s similar in film as well.  If there is a ton of good looking action that’s great but there needs to be weight and a story behind it with characters we are invested in.  There needs to be some sort of stakes where I think “man, will they make it?”  This didn’t have it.

Overall, though, I really liked this movie.  I think the Rotten Tomato score is severely off; this film has plenty of good, enough to outweigh the bad, and I think that it’s definitely worth seeing.  I was totally entertained and isn’t that why we go to the movies?  I think that some of the performances are great, I love seeing all these characters assembled and I think the story is solid.  This isn’t a perfect film but it is a good one.

Rating: Watch it in theaters

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