In keeping the grand-old tradition of the third in a superhero trilogy being the worst, Apocalypse is here to end the world – and end the streak of good movies the X-Men have enjoyed.
X-Men: Apocalypse (2016) is a superhero action film directed by Bryan Singer. It stars James McAvoy once again as Charles Xavier, who must bring together a new team of X-Men to combat the world’s first mutant Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac), an Egyptian ‘god’ who has recently awoken from a centuries-long slumber.
While it starts off with a ripping (albeit slightly confusing) opening act, much of Apocalypse drags its feet for its 144 minute run-time. Bogged down by too many subplots, characters and even an unnecessary 20-minute detour, this film can almost be described as a narrative mess of Batman v Superman level proportions. There’s pacing problems, obviously missing scenes, and balances too many new and old characters to give everyone the spotlight that Civil War managed. Granted its narrative ambition of Apocalypse‘s doesn’t extend as far as BvS but it is still a disappointment considering the previous achievement of Days of Future Past.
However, the thing that elevates Apocalypse above BvS is the characters and performances. Much of the new cast is awesome – Sophie Turner as Jean Grey, Tye Sheridan as Cyclops and Kodi Smit-McPhee as Nightcrawler are all given solid screen time and a moment or two to shine. The classic bromancers of Fassbender and McAvoy’s Magneto and Charles Xavier are both in top form here also, although the usual battle of morality between the two is sadly lacking on-screen. And Quicksilver! Once again after DOFP Evan Peters turn as the quick-footed (and fast-mouthed) mutant is not only a scene-stealer but also manages to top the incredible Quicksilver scene from the last film with absolute ease. The one sore point in the cast is Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique. Her popularity has ensured that she takes up plenty of screen-time, even though her character could be cut completely without affecting the overall story. Its yet another thing that bogs down the film’s run-time and pacing. And I haven’t even gotten to all the other characters – Alexandra Shipp’s Storm (who’s sadly underused), Ben Hardy’s Angel (literally just hired muscle), Nicholas Hoult’s Beast (good as always) and Olivia Munn’s Psylocke (also horribly underused). The cast may be overall quite good, but its far too big for the film to service everyone. And potentially the biggest drawback with the cast is Oscar Isaac’s titular Apocalypse. Isaac does his damnedest to act under a kilo of blue makeup, but sadly not even he can make this horribly underwritten villain interesting. His motivations or full power-set are never explained, making the foe more of an immovable object than a character.
And if the guy you’ve named your movie after isn’t given enough screen time to flesh him out, you know the movie’s in trouble. Granted, there is still a lot to like in Apocalypse – most of the main and new cast deliver good performances, and there’s plenty of fan service and entertaining moments – but its too much of a mess of characters and CGI to be anywhere near as compelling as the previous two x-entries. This may not be The Last Stand, but it doesn’t help the stereotype that the third film is always the worst.
General Audiences: Meh
Film Buffs: Meh
True Believers (X-Men): Recommended