Bryan Singer's newest X-Men film offers a mixed bag that ultimately succeeds.
Although critics have trended towards mixed reviews for X-Men: Apocalypse, a lot of the fan perception seems to indicate that the film is a disappointment. In some ways, it's understandable - X-fans expect a lot after two great films in a row and were excited about the debut of an A-list villain. However, I think the reaction has been a bit unfair for a film that may not equal First Class and Days of Future Past, but ultimately remains worthy of the franchise. Let's take a different approach with this review.
Since this is still in theaters, be aware that there are SPOILERS in this review, as with most of my reviews.
Why Apocalypse is better than people say it is:
- Casting aside, Apocalypse is built up as a credible threat to the X-Men. Sure, I wish he'd been a little bit taller (Skee-lo is stuck in your head now), but by the end of the film, he's been properly established as a bad-ass worthy of the entire team's focus.
- The rest of the cast is mostly successful. Everyone is pretty good, with Evan Peters as Quicksilver standing out again and Alexandra Shipp doing more with the role of Storm than Halle Berry ever accomplished. It was strange seeing Sophie Turner as Jean Grey, particularly because the character's look is not unlike Sansa Stark's, but she took ownership of the role by the film's end.
- Dat Wolverine rampage.
- The period-specific touches are great. I loved seeing Quicksilver do the moonwalk during his token slow-motion sequence, as well as seeing Nightcrawler rocking the Thriller jacket.
- Speaking of costumes, they're worthy of mention, too. Props to Singer and Co. for going with the comic-accurate Psylocke costume. Beast looks better in his hairy blue form than in First Class, and they did a nice job bringing Apocalypse's look to life without allowing it to be too corny.
|Too bad Olivia Munn pretty much got all dressed up for nothing.|
Why Apocalypse could be better:
- I don't buy Magneto as a lackey here. I get that they wanted him in the film and I also get that they needed another horseman for Apocalypse, but very little about his inclusion on Apocalypse's little dream team rings true with how the character has been portrayed in earlier films. Furthermore, it seems like a step back to see Magneto making the same old arguments after the realization he came to in the last film, even if that was the Ian McKellan-played Magneto from the future and not the one in this movie.
- The Quicksilver-Magneto father-son angle is not interesting in the least and is poorly handled. The idea that with the world hanging in the balance, Quicksilver would still be like, "Nah, this isn't a good time to reveal this information that could turn the tide of the battle" is silly.
- If the series is to continue (which it seems that it won't in its current form, sadly), they need to mine some new territory. I've enjoyed the Martin Luther King, Jr. vs. Malcolm X style debates between Xavier and Magneto as much as the next guy, but they've been having different versions of the same conversation for 6 films now.
- This film is over two hours long and feels like it, too. Considering that it's so long, the lack of any meaningful dialogue for a fan favorite like Psylocke is disappointing. The film could have been paced better or at least found a way to give Psylocke and Archangel something to do.