Over the past 16 years, Fox has managed to deliver a varying degree of X-Men based films that go from downright atrocious to mind-blowingly awesome. Apocalypse being the 9th entry manages to land squarely in the middle of genre changing and abominable disgrace. While this is an apt end to the prequel trilogy started in First Class, the movie tends to blow its wad on nearly every trick or storyline it could have saved for whoever is helming the ship for the next mainline installments. This is not the Apocalypse for the X-Men franchise, it however lowers the bar overall on what had been an increasingly well received run of films.
First and foremost, I expected this film to be a rehash of X-Men 3: The Last Stand, and while I’m pleasantly happy to report it is better, the situations and scenarios feel a bit too similar to ignore. I can confidently say this movie is mediocre and not an ounce better, it is also not any worse either. While we’ve had a string of 4 comic book films in 4 months, this is Fox’s weakest film this year but better than DC’s first outing. It simply fails to be something more than a predictable run of events that uses a ton of tropes already seen in the other main X-Men franchise films.
Apocalypse introduces a ton of new characters, some who are underutilized get standout scenes (Angel, for one), and quite possibly sets up a great new group of X-Men going forward, the core group of characters introduced in First Class get a lot of screen time. This is because it feels more like a sequel to First Class than Days of Future Past does, as that spent its entire time ‘fixing’ mistakes along the way and creating a new future where cast members are younger and replaced without having to recast mid-trilogy. Xavier and Magneto deliver outstanding performances and of all the characters present, I hope they come forward into the inevitable 90’s.
The titular character isn’t horrible either, and his powerset is explained (for the most part) to help understand why the post-credits scene in DoFP works going in this one. But despite Oscar Isaac not ruining a fan favorite mutant, he ultimately becomes pure CGI spectacle by the end of the film. Its sad that the trailers had given away some of crucial plot points as well, as it took the ‘awe’ out of what could have been pure visual bliss.
Standout scenes always include Quicksilver (again), who is a great addition and hopefully has a staying role going forward, as well as Nightcrawler. A fan favorite mutant makes an extended cameo and delivers on a promise (probably) made 15 years ago or more.
Where I am disappointed, is that so many characters exist in this film that hardly any new ones get time to breath, but however have huge roles by the end. They don’t grow or really evolve, it just happens to help move the plot forward. This is where a lot of great future ideas get wasted within just a matter of minutes and hurts the overall impact of the trilogy. They also only reference the last maybe 5 minutes of Days of Future Past as well, kind of cementing that film as an apology movie in my mind (I wasn’t a huge fan to begin with).
By the end of the film, between slow motion walking and tons of CG effects, the movie had delved into only spectacle, no story and I was ready for the credits. However, the journey there wasn’t as arduous and painful as original anticipated, giving me a better film than the last trilogy closing X-Men movie, but because of those predictable scenarios I can’t say it surpasses X2: X-Men United or even First Class. While I’m not more enthused for the inevitable next installment, the fact Fox didn’t butcher this tells me that the X-Men won’t be in Marvel’s hands for a while, and that’s ok by me. If you’re a big fan of the mutant movies, then by all means I recommend it, however, if you’re over saturated on your superhero movies this year, a Redbox rental won’t hurt you either.