By Justin Rev Ino Tamang
The X-Men franchise has completed yet another trilogy with the release of X-Men: Apocalypse. For someone like me who’s been a fan of the franchise since the circa 1992 cartoon, expectations were definitely high. Apocalypse is one of the most interesting plots of the franchise, after all. Sadly, these expectations weren’t met.
X-Men: Apocalypse takes off a decade after the events of its predecessor, X-Men: Days of Future Past. The first mutant, the near-omnipotent En Sabah Nur or Apocalypse, gets brought back to life and seeks to burn the world to the ground and rebuild it again. The X-Men has to stop him, but first they have to regroup since the core characters have gone their separate ways.
Right off the bat, it is evident that Apocalypse has to introduce a lot of relatively new characters. It manages to do so, but at the cost of a smoothly woven narrative. The movie whisks the audience from one buildup scene to another for quite some time. It introduces characters, but leaves little to no room to develop them.
In the moments that we do see some attempt at character development, the movie presents rehashed takes on the same problems and issues the X-Men have been dealing with in the past. Magneto still has the exact dilemma, and so do Mystique and Professor X. The approach makes the film feel convoluted, clichéd, and more like a collection of introductions instead of a trilogy closer.
Even the main villain proved underwhelming as a whole. Apocalypse, supposedly, is the first and the strongest of all mutants, but this never really seemed apparent. Instead of carrying on with his overly clichéd plan of destroying the world to build a new one, he goes off on a search for companions to help him out. So much for being a highly powerful mutant, really.
On top of that, the movie squeezes in fan service in every opportunity it could get. While these moments might be entertaining for some, these disrupt further an already-shaky narrative.
For the record, X-Men: Apocalypse isn’t the worst film of the franchise to date. It is still better than X-Men: The Last Stand, which deserves to be buried and wiped off our memories. But that’s about it.
Apocalypse takes on too many things at once and struggles to tie together the narrative. It spends too much time on buildups and introductions of new characters, who eventually don’t get enough character development. In the end, the movie fails to build a strong enough emotional connection, a rather unusual irregularity for a franchise that has always resonated well with its audience.
Director Bryan Singer brings in as much badassery he could. The fight scenes are well-executed and both the visual effects and the sets look amazing on screen. Quicksilver’s antics make for entertaining segments in a film that takes too long to move and unify the storyline. While the director’s efforts aren’t in vain, these are not enough. The writing of the film simply leaves so much to be desired.
It’s sad to see Apocalypse bring down a highly venerated franchise to a low point. Singer may have helped shape the subgenre of superhero movies, but this is a swing and a miss. The good news is that the franchise is set to continue. Hopefully, we get to see future installments of the same caliber as First Class and Days of Future Past.
(Comment does contain some spoilers)
I completely disagree with you on this, and I’m very much basing my opinion on how well written the film actually was in comparison to past attempts (Last Stand I am looking at you).
This slow build up which you complain about is actually beautifully executed; Magneto in particular has a very good character arc. I don’t agree that he is hashing over old ground; he always argued against trying to live like Charles, but he tried it anyway and because he did the right thing by saving a life, he was made to pay for past mistakes. He has to overcome very immediate and painful grief, which Apocalypse uses to manipulate him until his long term friends actually manage to reason with him for once; usually he just does his own thing.
As for Raven, she is dealing with a very different sort of legacy from what she had before; she has never really doubted herself and what she was capable of doing. Over the course of the films (all of them not just when Jennifer Lawrence was in the role) she has always been very confidence in what she wanted and how she needed to go about achieving it. In this film she doubts the legacy of her being a hero, which is why Jennifer Lawrence got to avoid being blue for most of the film.
As for not going into depth with some of the characters, well in a large cast of characters you can’t, but the audience learns enough. They know Angel is a bit of a thug from how he acts; they know Kurt is religious by the fact he prays when the occasion calls for it; you know Jean Grey fears her powers because of how she reacts to dreams and how the other children react to her; Storm has a hero and wants a better place in this world, and is willing to admit the mistake she made in choosing Apocalypse’s side; you see the slightly cocky side of Scott Summers we knew from James Marsden’s performance and his development as he gets to grips with trying to be a normal teenage rather than face the reality of his powers. Anyway in Days of Future Past loads of the mutants in the future, were under-developed as well. It is the nature of the X-Men as it is their mutant powers that make most of them distinctive and watching them use them is where the interest comes from.
And as for Apocalypse – he isn’t all powerful, as he careful explains when he discovers the powers of the Professor. He cannot control the world and re-shape to his vision because of the free will of those he means to rule over. He was proclaimed a false god by the Ancient Egyptians and defeated by them because they knew the truth. The tales of him being ‘all powerful’ was propaganda, otherwise he wouldn’t need four followers to help him and he certainly wouldn’t need to continue to acquire the powers of other mutants. He is very much aware that he is dependent on his loyal followers in order to be successful in the long run, which is why he makes sure he’s re-orientated himself with this new world he’s found himself in and puts people by his side who are discouraged by how the world exists and want it to change in the way he wishes to rule it.
It’s interesting that he doesn’t make very good choices; Storm has a known hero in another mutant that she’s always idolize so can never be completely loyal to him; Magneto is known to do his own thing and Angel was just a little bit pathetic to be honest, but a good bodyguard for the short term. Psylocke was brilliant, but I will admit needed a bit more character development, but her character in the wider Marvel universe has a lot of connections to Captain America at first, which naturally can’t be touched on, but later on with Mr. Sinister as well, so fingers crossed she’ll be back.
To be perfectly honest, the only dodgy thing in the entire film was Sophie Turner’s accent.
I have yet to see this latest addition to the X-Men franchise, and I can honestly say that I’m in no hurry. I loved the original trilogy that came out, and now I just feel like they are beating at a dead horse. I still intend to see it, but I’m definitely going in with low expectations.
On another note, I nominated you for a Liebster Award. You can find out more details here: http://macabreadore.com/2016/05/19/the-liebster-award/
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Thanks, I’ll check it out.
And I promise the latest Xmen is great; I’ve been to see it twice in the last two days. It is well worth it.
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R.L. Terry said:
Thanks for the review. I was worried about the movie when I witnessed the shaky trailer. Fox needs to be careful because they could lose this cash cow IP to the Big D. The previous two movies were so good! I had hoped that this one would continue the trend. Seems like it may go by way of the last X-Men 3 (Last Stand).
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I actually thought the fight scenes were woeful. They were completely lacking in imagination when compared to almost any other superhero movie.
The final battle was just 2 people floating with one person on the ground as cgi stuff flew around them. SMH.
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The Film School said:
I’ve nominated you for a Liebster award. You can find all the details here:https://ghaydenfilm.com/2016/06/13/my-liebster-award/
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I tended to ‘like’ this one but definitely didn’t love it. It certainly has its share of flaws. I was especially bored with the first half. So many pieces laid out before they even begin to put them altogether. This should have been better.
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