June 1, 2016 by bck1402
Stars James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hult, Oscar Isaac, Rose Byrne, Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, Lucas Till, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Alexandra Shipp, Olivia Munn
Directed by Brian Singer
Is the third movie in a series really the worst, as postulated by Jean Grey in this very movie?
Given that X-Men: Apocalypse takes place in the 80s, it’s an understandable perception, but at the same time, rather prophetic in its own case. X-Men: The Last Stand was not a strong finish to the first three X-Men movies, so it may have been some meta comment on its previous trilogy preceding this altered timeline.
But X-Men: Apocalypse does no favours to dissuade the statement either, as it to almost prophesies its own shortcomings. Did director Bryan Singer realise he didn’t have a full movie here? Case in point – and spoiler warning, if it needs to be said – the whole Alkali Lake sequence seems completely contrived to shoe-horn one specific fan-salivating cameo because it really doesn’t serve any purpose to the overall story, except to give the few remaining ‘X-Men” spanking new jumpsuits and a plane to get halfway around the world quickly… not that there weren’t other avenues available in that given moment. And it extends the movie an additional 15-20 minutes, pushing the movie beyond a customary 130 minute (these days) mark.
And while Oscar Isaac turns in a credible performance as Apocalypse, he is also left with not much of a character. Apocalypse does seem like a threat, but his motivations seem a touch unclear. The whole destroy-the-world-as-cleansing so that he rule over… what, exactly? We’ve had so many villains going this path before – particularly on TV of late (looking at you, Arrow and Agents of SHIELD) – that it all seems so redundant. His rantings come across more as megalomania that its rather surprising he manages to sway Magneto fairly easily without having to exert additional influence as he did with Angel (Ben Hardy), Storm (Alexandra Shipp) or Psylocke (Olivia Munn). Magneto becomes something of a non-entity after that!
It’s clear that X-Men: Apocalypse is meant to be a resolution to everything that began in X-Men: First Class, particularly the relationship between Xavier (James McAvoy), Erik/Magneto (Michael Fassbender) and Raven/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), bringing their arcs full circle and allowing them to find their place and peace… to an extent. The philosophies that divided them before are nowhere to be found here in the face of a common threat because, apparently, humans and mutants can get along for the most part that Nightcrawler out in the open on New York streets doesn’t bring up any issues. However, with the themes and philosophies that carried the previous movies missing here, the story suffers quite a bit as the characters appear to be going through the motions of a standard action movie.
That’s not to say the movie isn’t entertaining. There is the fan-baiting cameo, some calls to fan-favourite X-Men even if they don’t do anything else (poor Jubilee), impressive use of powers and abilities even if one last-minute expected reveal plays like deus ex machina in the grander scheme of things, and we learn why the X-Mansion can be allowed to be destroyed every once in a while. Rebuilding appears to be quick and easy; don’t know about safe, tho… do they have building inspectors look that over?
So ultimately, it could be enjoyable if you leave your brain at the door, but it does not live up to the legacy of its better predecessors. Even Bryan Singer seems to be on auto-pilot here and should probably do some smaller movie in between these big ones, like how Christopher Nolan had different projects in between the Batman movies he did. Also, given that this is contractually the last X-Men movie for Lawrence, McAvoy and Fassbender, the post credits sting to set up the next potential villain may seem redundant. Some speculate it’s more to set up the next Wolverine movie tho.
Rating: **1/2 / 5