Last night I finally caught a screening of the latest in the 20th Century Fox and Bryan Singer’s X-Men series. In spite of rather tepid reviews I wanted to see the film and judge it based solely on my own thoughts. Let’s get down to one simple question: Did I like it? Short answer yes, but of course I’m going to dig in and explain why. I’ve told any friend who’s asked me for a quick explanation that this film is like a grande burrito. Yes it is overstuffed, but it’s a burrito so it’s fucking delicious. At the end I’m going to throw in my two cents on why I think the reviews haven’t been all that warm. So without further ado, let’s talk about ninth film of this series. One final thing, SPOILERS will be in this article. You’ve been warned.
The film opens in Ancient Egypt as we see our main antagonist of the film Apocalypse transferring his consciousness into another mutant’s body. Knowing his reign will bring disaster to humanity some rebels in his ranks sabotage the temple he’s in sealing it up… until 1983. Of course Apocalypse gets lose and decides humanity has built a world that worships false gods and must be cleansed. In doing so he recruits his Four Horseman: Storm who is living in Egypt as a pickpocket, Angel who is forced to battle in underground mutant fight clubs, Psylocke who is working as muscle for a mutant information broker, and Magento. I’ll talk more about him in a moment as there’s a lot to cover. The school is back on it’s feet with Charles and Hank taking in new students every day. We’re introduced to Jean Grey, Nightcrawler, Cyclops, and Jubilee as new students. And of course Moira MacTaggert is back to provide exposition and give a much needed romance for Charles. That’s broad enough, now let’s dig into smaller plots. I’ve loved seeing how James McAvoy’s performance has evolved over the course of three films. In First Class he was an optimistic idealist, in Days of Future Past he became a broken man cynical to humanity, and with Apocalypse he’s come full circle to the wise professor we knew he’d become. As always Michael Fassbender brought his A game to portray Magento. You truly feel happy to see him living a normal life… for about fifteen minutes. Once he’s exposed an armed posse comes to take him in and ends up accidentally murdering his wife and daughter. So we’ve got the personal stakes set for the film. But then comes the obvious stakes. Of course bad things have to happen to the world and only our heroes can save us. It’s a comic book film, what else can happen? And yes, things get convoluted as the story progresses and we end up taking a detour at the midpoint for a Wolverine cameo that didn’t feel necessary. But thankfully the film was never incoherent. If you’ve seen the previous film and have a general knowledge of them you’ll be fine.
As I’ve always said, the cast has always been the strongest part of the series and this one is no different. We know going in that veterans like Hoult, Fassbender, McAvoy, and Lawrence are going to do well, but what about the rest? For me the most surprising performance was Sophie Turner as Jean Grey. In the past five seasons of Game of Thrones she’s been given very little material to show any range, so I never took notice. But with this role and GoT’s current season she’s proving that she has chops. I liked seeing Jean more restrained and frightened, but finally coming to terms with the full extent of her power by the end. The other big win was Kodi Smit-McPhee as Nightcrawler. It was going to take a lot to measure up to Alan Cumming’s perfect portrayal from X2: X-Men United and McPhee did it. He knew how to balance Kurt’s innocence and humor properly. In all honesty I’ve never been a Cyclops fan be it in comics, the animated series, or the live action films. I didn’t expect much from the role. I’ve got to give Tye Sheridan credit, he played Scott a lot less dickish than Marsden ever did. It helped me actually enjoy the character more this time around. It was nice to see Rose Byrne back in the series as Moira’s relationship with Charles in First Class was always something I thought was ripe with potential. Seeing how she’s moved on since Charles removed her memories from their time together is a little sad. But it’s funny seeing him become a befuddled teenager the moment they re-unite. I hope they continue this relationship in future installments. Evan Peters once again steals his scenes in the role of Quicksilver. His speed running scene in this one may be even better than the one in the previous film. Not to mention everyone who got pissed off that he was left behind instead of fighting in Days of Future Past will be extremely happy to see him kick some ass.
-What I Didn’t Like-
No film is perfect and there are going to be flaws, but what I didn’t like are pretty much nitpicks. First there was limited screentime which meant a few characters got shortchanged. I can not believe they set up Jubilee only to do nothing with her in this film. I guess we’ll have to wait for the sequel. Psylocke and Angel also get little to do in their Horsemen roles and it was a little upsetting. Sure their action scenes are cool, but that’s about it. And of course, Apocalypse himself has problems. Much like the majority of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s villains we don’t get all that much from Apocalypse’s motivation. Oscar Isaac dig the best he could being buried under all that make-up, but I never felt he was all that menacing or had a good reason to be evil. And as I mentioned earlier the Wolverine cameo was nice, but completely pointless. All it did was give us one cool scene, but it could’ve been cut out and saved the movie some time. All minor issues, but we had to talk about them.
-Why Do I Think Critics Didn’t Like it-
This is something that bothers me. The film currently sits at 47% on Rotten Tomatoes and that’s not an ideal score. Look at it this way. the only other film from the series that has a lower score is X-Men Origins: Wolverine at 38%. Even X-Men: The Last Stand holds a 58% rating. So what gives? In my honest opinion this is all because of Deadpool coming out last February. I assume that after Deadpool was such a huge hit and did something completely different with the X-Men series critics saw Apocalypse as a set backwards. So instead of judging the film based on it’s own merit they took unrealistic expectations set by Deadpool and applied them here. And if that is the case it’s completely unfair. It’d be like comparing an amazing one shot comic to an issue from a series run. I think given time this film will get more praise, especially from the fans.
These are my thoughts on X-Men: Apocalypse, but as usual what are yours? Did you like the film? Are you ready to see these younger actors take over the roles? What did you think of the post-credits scene? I’m also going to leave links below for all my other recent X-Men related articles. As always, thanks for reading.