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.