X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Days of Future Past are great movies with some good acting. So obviously, I was looking forward to the third installment in this series of prequels. Naturally…The movie disappointed me. Apocalypse isn’t terrible, but calling the film good would be a stretch. I’ll try to keep my review spoiler free while talking about some of its less than perfect points.
The plot centers on the new villain, Apocalypse. He is the oldest mutant who has been alive since the Egyptian times. Back then, people worshiped Apocalypse a true god. His power is to transfer bodies and gain the power of any mutant he transfers to. This makes him, possibly, the most powerful single mutant in the entire X-Men franchise. He reawakens from a slumber after thousands of years and intends to purge the world of everything humanity has built and worshipped over time. To do so he recruits four other mutants to join him, one of them being Magneto, who has lost his way and faith in humanity. With the world on the brink of destruction, Professor X, Hank, and Mystique band together with a few of the students to do everything they can to protect the world from…an apocalypse.
Bryan Singer returns to direct this movie after directing his relatively successful pre-sequel, X-Men: Days of Future Past. Admittedly there is quite a strong use of CGI (not that it’s necessarily a bad thing). In fact, the CGI and special effects are the strongest point of the movie.
The movie relied so heavily on its special effects that it got in the way of building the story and developing the characters, which is saying something since the run time for X-Men: Apocalypse is nearly two and a half hours.
This almost contradicts First Class which allotted each of the characters equal amounts of screentime; the characters all developed as people while training their powers before confronting the big bad of the movie. Sadly, the same cannot be said for Apocalypse. A lot of the scenes are nothing more than time fillers. The characters were dropped off to fight the bad guys without feeling much (if any) different from when they started the movie.
Apocalypse brings a bunch of new characters and returning characters, as with any sequel. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender reprise their roles as Professor X and Magneto respectively, and, as always, they perform fantastically. Mystique also returns as a main character, but Jennifer Lawrence seems to be getting tired of her role, and looks bored in her quest to save other mutants. Some of the other heroes include younger version of Jean Grey, Nightcrawler, and Cyclops. They are all a bit dull, and don’t do much despite the fact that the movie gives them a lot of screentime. This is a shame considering Jean Grey’s actress (Sophie Turner) plays Sansa Stark on Game of Thrones so well.
The villains include Apocalypse (obviously) and his four horsemen/followers (which is where I find the movie most disappointing). Aside from Magneto, the other horsemen have very little reason to follow Apocalypse. They each have a scene where Apocalypse enhances their power. Then they spend the rest of the movie standing around, doing nothing. I was looking forward to see Olivia Munn’s Psylocke. She had zero motivation and very few lines throughout the entire movie. Wonderful stuff… Apocalypse himself spends a lot of his time just standing around, doing little. Even during the final clash between the good guys and bad guys, Apocalypse mostly just stands still. It becomes a bit of an anti-climax.
Easily the best character in the entire film is Quicksilver. Anyone who remembers his famous scene from Days of Future Past will not be disappointed. You can tell the actor, Evan Peters, is having fun with it (unlike most of the other actors in the film). Thankfully, he has a bigger role this time around, and every scene with him is a delight. Unfortunately, it is not enough to make up for the aforementioned characters. Wolverine also shows up in this movie. While it made for an awesome couple of scenes, it felt more like fanservice than an integral plot point.
The script, or lack thereof (I’m sure many parts just described how the CGI should look), is just okay. There were some jokes strewn throughout the movie, and only a couple of them landed with the audience. Most of the jokes got no reaction, however. Professor X, Magneto, and Apocalypse had some good dialogue here and there, but the rest of it was pretty cliché stuff. That’s probably what made Cyclops and Jean Grey so boring. They let their powers do most of the talking. Their actual dialogue serves no other purpose than taking the plot from point A to point B.
Overall the movie is not awful, but it could have been a lot better considering the elements it had going for it. While I did mention it was not as good as the other two films (First Class and Days of Future Past), it did not necessarily need to try to recreate the others for it to reach the same heights.
The movie opened up a lot of different avenues to explore, especially with the new villains. Unfortunately it did not spend enough time expanding on the possibilities. The action sequences are fun and the side characters are just as interesting in fights. It’s sad to see wasted potential in a movie that could’ve delivered a lot more. Maybe my expectations were a bit high, but not so much that I feel I’m giving the movie an unfair score. If you’re on the fence about this movie, then I’d suggest you skip out on it. Go see Civil War instead if you haven’t already (or even if you’ve already seen it 5 times).
On a final note: since it is a Marvel film (although made by Fox) you get to see a Stan Lee cameo and an extra scene if you wait past the credits. And, like most, comic book superhero movies, unless you read the comics or research it you likely won’t understand the post credit scene.