Given the track record of this series, I was not surprised to see it fall below expectations once again. Granted, I even tried to limit my hopes despite the trailers being rather great, but it wasn’t to be. Singer simply needs to retire from this series so we can get someone else in charge. All the pieces were in place for a solid movie experience, but the film really ends up falling flat on just about every angle. What should have been a fun action packed movie ends up being a rather lackluster experience.
Apocalypse has revived himself after a long slumber and he intends to destroy the majority of the humans so that the rest can worship him and his mutant empire. To do this, he recruits Psylocke, Angel, Storm, and Magneto as his four horsemen. Finally he kidnaps Professor Xavier and intends to use him as his final vessel so his telepathic abilities will allow him to rule for a very long time. Can the X-Men, led by Mystique, stop this villain? That’s essentially the premise of this film although it takes a very long time for this plot to actually start up.
There are numerous negatives with this film so it’s hard to know where to even start with the review. I just got back from seeing it as of the first half of this review so it may seem a little “all over the place” but I trust that you will be able to keep up. For starters, this film is very light on action. That was a complaint that I had with Days of Future Past and unfortunately it has reared its head once more. The first real fight scene isn’t until near the end of the film as the Horsemen fight the X-Men. Before that we have a brief scuffle with Angel and Nightcrawler although it isn’t really a fight as they spend the entire segment running around a lot. The guest star (Who’s in the trailer, but in case you haven’t seen it yet I’ll keep the individual unidentified) destroys a bunch of guys, but it can’t be called a fight.
Once we do get to the fights, they barely even count. Psylocke vs Beast is very short at around a minute or less and while it could have been good, it is over too fast. Not to mention that Beast shouldn’t have stood a chance at winning that round. Storm vs Cyclops was also disappointing as it was incredibly short as well and Cyclops just did a lot of running as well. Apocalypse vs Everyone wasn’t much of a fight either although at least it wasn’t over in the blink of an eye. Quicksilver’s speed barrage against him was cool and the visuals around Apocalypse’s energy blast were solid. Unfortunately, the visuals were really all there was too it since Apocalypse just kept on walking, but not actually fighting back which was rather odd.
For the entire film, the X-Men fought as a bunch of individuals rather than as a team. When Apocalypse was breaking Quicksilver’s bones or choking Mystique, nobody came to their aid. I had expected Magneto to jump in by that point, but he waits way too long for it to be effective. It was rather similar to Vegeta in Resurrection F. Some X-Men members talked about going over to help, but didn’t reach a decision for quite some time. Professor Xavier finally had an idea at one point, but it took him a while and even then it only bought him a little time. It was another cool scene, but one that also didn’t help him all that much in the camaraderie department. Storm’s big moment happened too late as well.
See, there’s definitely a trend there as well as a half dozen missed opportunities. Every time that a cool scene should have occurred, it didn’t. 5 minutes later the scene would happen, but by then it simply didn’t make sense anymore. That’s the big problem with this film. Every time something cool is supposed to happen, it simply doesn’t. Granted, there was a lot of applause and laughter from the audience throughout, but every time I would simply be groaning on the inside.
All of the humor scenes that were supposed to be funny simply weren’t. Professor Xavier flirting with Moira? Those scenes were terrible. Beast and Mystique scenes? Equally terrible. Also, while we’re on the subject, Xavier erasing Moira’s memories without her consent and basically doing it for himself was also rather bad. The whole point of being a telepath is that you’re supposed to respect boundaries. Xavier showed none of that. Plus, what’s the point of being such a famed telepath when everyone can mentally overpower you? Jean Grey surpasses him very early on in the film and Apocalypse easily defeats him mentally as well. Xavier looks horrible in this adventure and his fans certainly won’t be thrilled.
All right, let’s take a break from the negatives for a second. The soundtrack was very good. The theme that plays during Quicksilver’s speed montage is quite great and the rest of the themes are rather epic as well. The visuals can be fun as well like when Apocalypse’s tomb starts to light up. It was handled well and had an epic flair to it. They definitely should have kept Apocalypse’s original robotic voice though, it was a lot more intimidating. I know that his appearance got a lot of controversy at first, but it’s fine for the most part. Due to the fact that he has to appear blue, there was no way to keep him from looking like a Power Rangers villain. They certainly could have done a better job with his armor though. It looks rather low budget and making it more metallic and epic would have done him wonders. The 90’s animated show did a great job on that front. His followers mostly all have generic metal suits although Psylocke’s is straight from the comics so hers stands out. It’s definitely not a practical combat costume compared to the rest, but it’s good to have some more comic accurate costumes out there. Once again, the X-Men don’t get any of that.
Another annoying thing about the film is its insistence on using the f word once for each film. It’s very forced and something that really has no point being in the film. There is language in other scenes as well so it’s not even just for that one moment. It simply decides to jump to the next level in that scene. It’s supposed to be funny and the whole audience roared which is just a sign of how our culture has deteriorated so rapidly. It’s come to the point where you often hear the f word in daily life and some people use it casually in conversation, often quite frequently. I feel like it’s only a matter of time before it starts popping up in films more regularly, but hopefully this isn’t the case. It can really take the energy out of a scene.
As briefly mentioned before, Quicksilver’s original speed scene is great and it’s easily the best part of the film. Unfortunately, it also highlights some big plot holes for the rest of it. Specifically, Quicksilver was made to be way too fast in that scene. Considering how many actions he undertakes in the span of 1-3 seconds, there’s no way that he couldn’t react to someone pointing a gun at him from several feet away. It’s the problem that all speedsters have, but this film didn’t even have the decency to wait 10 minutes. I hope that everyone in the audience noticed how implausible the whole thing was. There’s just no way that Quicksilver is fast enough to pull the earlier scene off.
The after credits scene is also rather laughable. I felt like chuckling when it ended because nothing really happened. Lately, the after credit scenes haven’t been all that good so maybe I got spoiled from the earlier ones like Iron Man 2 and the Avengers. Since then, they’ve mostly been rather lackluster. A proper after credits scene should show a villain making threats, a fight scene, or a big plot twist. It should be something that actually matters and not something that is only a little tribute to the fans who stayed to watch it. That really defeats the whole purpose if you ask me.
The fact that this film is supposed to take place 10 years after Days of Future Past and 10 more years after First Class is another big plot hole that makes no sense when you consider everyone’s ages. The film doesn’t even try to explain this either and just tells you to roll with it. I suppose that this is the only thing that you really can’t do. I don’t really care about plot holes, but it does come across as rather lazy.
X-Men Apocalypse also reuses old plot lines once again, which makes them rather redundant. Once again, Magneto’s family is murdered so he turns evil. You can probably guess how his character arc will end from there as well. At first I was leaning towards a 4-5 for this film and after going through all of the negatives and the positives, it’s clear that the former wins out. This film’s just incredibly irritating and spends way too much time on build up with no actual climax to save it. It definitely doesn’t deserve a positive score in the end. I mean, the soundtrack is really the only thing that I can praise in this film along with some good visuals and a fun Quicksilver scene. Beyond that, it feels like nothing happened and we didn’t get the action that I had been waiting for the entire time. That being said, it did manage to avoid some issues like animal violence and there is a decent amount of replay value to be found here. It’s not quite Avengers and I probably wouldn’t rewatch it anytime soon, but at least it’s not over the top grim.
One thing that hurts the film quite a bit is the fact that it is never fun. The film tries to be humorous at times, but it never quite works. Professor Xavier claims that he believes in the humans and that they can all coexist for peace, but it comes across as a crazy thought in this film. There is never even a shred of evidence or potential for Xavier to see and reaffirm his beliefs on that. I’m glad that he is finally training the team a little, but he sure took his time. It’s heavily implied that he knew about how mutants were still being persecuted, hunted, and used for sport around the world, but he decided to do nothing about it. When good people do nothing in the face of evil, evil wins. That’s a common saying that it used and it certainly fits this mentality that Xavier has. He has done nothing to help the mutants and is content to simply stay at his school. He makes threats about what will happen if humans attack him, but he needs to see the bigger picture.
I was glad to see that the film kept in Nightcrawler’s Christianity. I was worried that they would cut that out, but it is emphasized in a scene or two which was great. I also like how Havok pointed out that the Apocalypse myths stole the 4 Horsemen angle from the Bible. Moira tries to deny this, but it’s easy to see that she was grasping at straws from that point. Considering that Apocalypse’s whole angle is that he wants to be the god of the world, it’s good to see the film acknowledging the true God and putting Apocalypse down as a false one.
Naturally, Cyclops has been changed to make him more of a rebellious character this time. Gone are the days when he was the responsible member like in the 90’s show or Evolution. He’s the one who decides to break the rules and head to the mall even when he knows that he could be putting them all in a lot of danger. Nightcrawler stands out quite a bit after all and Cyclops can’t control his powers at all. Seems like a recipe for disaster if you ask me. Mystique is the heroic leader this time, but I guess she may not be a main character in the next film. It’s time to see if the next generation can hold their own title. She did well here though and is one of the more likable characters. She may actually be the best X-Men member. After all, Mystique is actually going around the world and helping out the other mutants. That’s something that none of the others are doing.
Jean Grey’s a decently good character. The accent is a little odd and overall she doesn’t feel as much like Jean Grey as the older version, but give it time and we’ll get used to her I suppose. It is a little sad that her powers were so easily blocked by an EMP barrier though. Given that she is finally starting to realize her true powers, this luckily shouldn’t be a problem in the next film. Nightcrawler was all right, but did they really have to make him look so bad in his true form? It can still look solid while still showing that he grew up in a tough situation. Beast is rather terrible and spends all his time flirting instead of doing anything productive with himself.
Quicksilver’s a solid character and as mentioned before, he did have some of the best scenes. At least he was ready to fight. Havok was also a great member and was the only one to stand up to Apocalypse. It’s a shame that we knew he would lose from the start, but he had guts. Magneto makes for a good antagonist although the cheering during one of his first scenes was rather unsettling. He massacres a group of cops after they murder his wife and child, but let’s look at the context for this. As far as these guys know, Magneto is a wanted criminal who tried to assassinate the President of the United States before going into hiding. Sure, Magneto has been working for the country for a while undercover, but he is still a fugitive who escaped justice. Are the cops supposed to simply turn a blind eye to this?
Furthermore, it looked like the cop in question who fired the arrow simply slipped due to being distracted by the birds. That was inexcusable and it’s understandable that Magneto exacted revenge, but to cheer as the other cops are killed is also very bad. They really hadn’t done anything and they were fully prepared to just arrest Magneto. Knowing how the films work, I’m sure that they would have turned out to be corrupt or something because films always like to make the government evil. That being said, it was still a rather sad scene and it’s too bad that these things always happen to Magneto’s family. Either way, he is a sympathetic villain and easily the most interesting one in this film. I have enjoyed his character quite a lot in this trilogy and more so than in the original films. That being said, this character arc does seem as if it has been repeated so it’s not very original this time around.
Angel’s your average drunk fighter. Granted, he was forced into the arena, but it certainly hardened him. Considering that Apocalypse has no mind control over his followers, you do have to question how Angel follows him so obediently after his rather painful transformation. I guess that’s how much he likes the feeling of being strong. There’s nothing particularly cool about him and he’s just there to have another villain around. Storm is cool and has more personality than the other two horsemen. (So, not counting Magneto) In the end, she didn’t have the guts to make her move before the classic 5 minute delay which lost some points with me, but she made for a decent villain. Her powers seemed very weak though and that’s considering that Apocalypse had augmented them. Hopefully she will look more impressive next time.
Psylocke’s always been one of my favorite X-Men characters, but unfortunately she has gotten the shaft in every one of her appearances. In the 90’s show she appeared briefly to fight Magneto, Wolverine, Sabertooth, and some of the other fighters only to vanish after that multiparter was over. In Wolverine and the X-Men she only appeared very briefly. Considering that she is a great hand to hand fighter and that she has telepathic abilities, I always thought that she was underrated. I’m glad that she finally got to be a main villain in this film, but her role here was rather small. The series seems like it has big plans for her, but she didn’t look quite as impressive as she should have. She is brave and isn’t afraid to fight so those are always good qualities. Hopefully she’ll get more action scenes next time to give us some more feats for the character.
As for Apocalypse, he’s not a cool villain. I like him a lot in the 90’s show and most of his comic iterations are solid as well although it’s been a while since he has done anything of importance in the comics. That being said, I like Apocalypse because he is a fighter. He is above mutants and can typically handle a dozen or more heroes at once. This version only seems to have transmutation abilities and maybe some TK abilities. That’s not enough to make him look impressive and he can barely fight. He completely relies on his barriers and followers all the time. The film really messed up with him. At the very least, I did like the chants that he got during the beginning of the film. I thought that the chanting song was surprisingly good.
There really wasn’t much of a point to Moira being around though. Unfortunately, she doesn’t add anything to the film and didn’t really need to be there. Meanwhile, I didn’t care for how the government reacted after all of the nukes were fired. They looked mildly surprised and then they never appeared again until the very end. Considering the tensions in the 80’s, you’d think that there would be more alarm and distress after having lost all of their nukes. I would have liked to have seen the government do something rather than simply have a shadow cabinet kidnap the gullible X-Men. (“We’re here to help…we’re just carrying guns for fun” The X-Men should have instantly known that something was up instead of just standing around with a confused expression on their faces)
If the next film wants to succeed, it’s going to have to start with more super powered fights. 90% of the “battles” in this film were just mutants slaughtering humans who can’t fight back. Magneto against construction workers and cops, _________ against various armed soldiers, etc. I don’t go watch an X-Men film to see uneven battles. I want mutants against mutants just like I go to a Man of Steel film to watch Superman do battle with other super powered beings. It just makes sense.
To an extent, I’ve also got to blame the trailers for why the film was so disappointing. First, let me state what I believe the point of a trailer to be. A good trailer should get you as hyped about a film as possible through any means necessary. It can be misleading and it can show spoilers. None of that matters so long as the trailer is awesome and hype. The trailers succeeded on that front as they did a good job of making the film look awesome. These were definitely the best X-Men trailers ever. Unfortunately, the problem is that by comparison, the film is rather bad as you are watching it. Most of the best scenes that showed promise in the trailers either don’t happen until the final 5 minutes of the film as set up for the next one or they are so out of context that the real context isn’t as good. (Similar to the “Do you bleed” line from Batman V Superman. The context in the trailer was so much better) This was going to be the film where the heroes finally got their costumes, but it happens after all of the fights have finished so it barely matters. It was hard not to chuckle when Beast opened the containers to take out the combat costumes for everyone because they were….black leather costumes once again. Sure, there were some cosmetic changes, but essentially it was back to the same things as in the original trilogy. So much for progress. There’s probably more things that I could mention in regards to the film, but I can’t think of any more at the moment so this is a good time to start wrapping up the review. If anything, just hit me up in the comments for more details or to explain why you liked the film. For every naysayer there is a fan and vice versa after all.
Overall, whenever an X-Men film ends, you’re left with a sign of hope that the next one will finally be good. This one ends with that note as well, but I have a feeling that the film will manage to mess this up somehow. The visions of the future look promising and Apocalypse also seems thrilled at the prospect of what is going to occur, but I simply don’t think the film can handle it. The franchise has simply failed one too many times with this film. Despite its flaws, the original X-Men trilogy certainly felt more like X-Men films than this latest trilogy. Hopefully the series goes up from here, but what it needs is a complete reboot. The film needs to improve on every level so giving it some time away from the big screen may be in its best interest. If you were tempted to watch this film, I recommend skipping it and checking out Batman V Superman instead. It’s certainly more worth your money. Fox has a ways to go if it wants to catch up to Warner Bros, Disney, or even Sony at this point.