X-Men: Apocalypse

Here it folks, the big one. The Apocalypse is coming, despite everything Idris Elba did to cancel it.

The recent strange reboot of the X-Men franchise has been wildly successful. I enjoyed First Class and loved the crap out of Days of Future Past (which made my top of the year list), while also fixing some continuity issues that had been brought up. I used to like X2, but honestly, it hasn’t aged well with me, and I am tired as fuck of the Wolverine origin stories.

As a fan of the X-Men stories, Apocalypse has always felt like their biggest and greatest enemy. He is their Thanos or Darkseid. Not their main enemy, just their biggest threat. So to see it finally come to fruition on the big screen is both exciting and frightening. It is obvious why I am excited, but I am also frightened that I am over hyping the film. Days of Future Past did a lot of things right, so it will be hard for them to live up to that film. There are so many ways for X-Men: Apocalypse to go wrong.

But despite all this, I will do my best to not make fun of the way he looks.

Old
He looks a lot less like Ivan Ooze in the actual film!

Ten years after the events of the last film, the world has changed for Mutants. After Mystique’s (Jennifer Lawrence) speech, mutants are a bit more understood and not completely seen as threats. In America, they can look weird and walk around and most people seem to accept them. It helps that Magneto (Michael Fassbender) has gone into hiding in Poland to live a new life, and Xavier’s (James McAvoy) school is a rousing success!

Until shit starts hitting the fan. Moira Mactaggert (Rose Byrne) discovers cults that are worshipping ancient beings believed to be the first mutants. Sure enough, bad events occur, and En Sabah Nur (Oscar Isaac) is out and about after being trapped and asleep for almost 5700 years. Go fuck yourself, Rip Van Winkle. What’s an ancient deity gotta do to get some respect around here? Make a new team of individuals to help him gain more powers and enslave the world of course! That is why we get to see new people, like Psylocke (Olivia Munn), Angel (Ben Hardy), and Mowhawk Storm (Alexandra Shipp)!

Ah, the end of the world. The best time to introduce young new guys to the fold too. Like Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), Cyclopes (Tye Sheridan) who is of course Havok’s (Lucas Till) brother, Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee), and Jubilee (Lana Condor).

Also returning: Nicholas Hoult as Beast, Evan Peters as Quicksilver, and Josh Helman as Col. William Stryker. And featuring Warren Scherer, Rochelle Okoye, Monique Ganderton, and Fraser Aitcheson as the original four horsemen.

New
Something new, something old (Apocalypse), and a whole lot of somethings blue.

With X-Men: Apocalypse, we now have our third 2.5 hour Superhero film of the year, which must the new normal. Please be different Dr. Strange. The timing felt good for Civil War, but it was too much of a run time for this film. Plenty could have been cut out to give a more straight forward and less clunky film.

Here is the good stuff though! I almost gave this a 3 out of 4, because what worked really worked. There is a scene that actually made me tear up in this film. It was then immediately when extra lives were somehow lost without making a whole lot of sense. I will say that Magneto’s reason for getting involved seem almost completely justifiable, and like normal, Fassbender and McAvoy basically carry the film. Lawrence isn’t bad in her role, although Mystique’s arc seems just a bit weaker. In terms of new characters, Smit-McPhee as Nightcrawler does a fascinating job and Turner as Jean Grey grew on me over time. Quicksilver was a lot more involved in the plot and his moments were some of the highlights of the film again. It is great that they made him more integral to the plot and confirmed some of his backstory.

And finally (a vague spoiler) we have a film where characters can actually die from these extremely powerful individuals doing battle. Thank goodness.

For most of the other players, everyone else feels underutilized. Psylocke is only really used in one fight, we get a decent amount of Angel but it isn’t great, and Storm doesn’t have many great moments. And if you were one of the dozens excited to finally get Jubilee in film, then quickly suppress that excitement, because she does diddly squat. And of course we have the wonderful OSCAR ISAAC to play the big bad guy, but for half the film his voice is distorted and there is never really a moment where he can really display any great acting, which makes the casting feel a bit wasteful.

It could have been the 3D and theater settings, but the CGI felt weaker than Days of Future Past. Apparently Apocalypse’s powers involve turning items into sand and sand into items for the most part with the occasional cool purple thing. Add in Magneto’s electric field near the end and we just get a used over and over again ugly look to the whole film.

This movie is not as good as Days of Future Past, and maybe not even as good as First Class. It is still decently enjoyable though, but it features a clunky plot with a lot of underutilized characters. The good news is that for the parts that work, they work really damn well. I mean, who doesn’t enjoy some nice fan service?

2 out of 4.

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