FILM REVIEW - X-MEN: APOCALYPSE
Running Length: 144 minutes
Directed by: Bryan Singer
Cast: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Oscar Isaac
Written by: Bryan Singer, Michael Dougherty, Dan Harris, Simon Kinberg
Cinematography: Newton Thomas Sigel
Release Date: 18th May 2016
Too much emphasis on spectacle and not enough on personal drama.
For kids at an impressionable age, the “let your freak flag fly” message at the core of the X-Men movies is very healthy one. It encourages individualism and introduces difficult concepts such as the damage of “passing” in a way that other comic book movies don’t even try to. If the Avengers are the school’s popular, well-to-do jocks, then the X-Men are surely the infinitely more interesting outsider losers. This particular superhero franchise has earned a little goodwill, but with a new comic book movie arriving at a rate of roughly one a week, X-Men: Evolution looks a little clunky.
Director Bryan Singer’s fourth X-Men movie gets off to a promising start with a nifty pre-credits sequence set in ancient Egypt. In a thrilling opener, some disgruntled underlings drop a pyramid on the head of a blue meanie called En Sabah Nur (Oscar Isaac). Said despot remains buried for five thousand-odd-years until he is resurrected in 1983 with an urge to wipe out humanity. Because Darwinism. Meanwhile, after trying to kill Richard Nixon in X-Men: Days of Future Past, Magneto (Michael Fassbender) is keeping it on the down-low in rural Poland. Mags is working at a steel mill (oh, the iron-y), and leading a quiet life of domestic bliss with a wife and daughter. This doesn’t end well. Soon enough, Magneto and En Sabah Nur are blowing stuff up, with Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) and a cast of X-Men old and new doing their damnedest to stop them.
Of the new cast, Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is a joy, and once again Quicksilver (Evan Peters) steals the thunder from the more established characters. But an extended cameo from Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine feels inorganic and redundant. Some poor costume and character designs might appeal to comic fans, but will look ridiculous to everyone else.
By far the worst element of X-Men: Apocalypse is the big bad guy. Isaac is completely wasted as a regressively one-dimensional pantomime villain in blue make-up and prosthetics. At least Fassbender (and Ian McKellen before him) injected a little bit of conflict and depth into Magneto, but En Sabah Nur’s motivation begins and ends with just being plain evil. End of.
In terms of how X-Men: Apocalypse stacks up against the other movies, it’s on a par with X-Men: Days of Future Past and shares a lot of the same problems. Singer wastes a good deal of the gargantuan runtime on regurgitating Emmerich-esue scenes of mass destruction. There is little here to distinguish X-Men: Apocalypse from most other action fodder. The emotional heft of X2: X-Men United is long gone, and Singer seems to have fallen out of love with this world and these characters.
X-Men: Apocalypse puts too much emphasis on spectacle and not enough on personal drama.