The newest instalment in Bryan Singer’s X-Men universe brings us Apocalypse; the world’s first mutant. Apocalypse is seemingly omnipotent and eternal, so the X-Men must band together to face their biggest challenge yet.
That’s the usual tagline that you’d read for a flick like this. Sound familiar? That’s because it is. It’s literally the definition of almost every superhero sequel ever. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the movie is bad, because it’s not. However, it also doesn’t mean it’s great, because it’s not. It just means that we’re treading water. The film is both introducing a new team of mutants to further the series and yet replaying familiar themes and relationships from the past. All it once it seems to be redundant and attempting to reboot the series.
The things I worried most about this film, ended up being some of the things I enjoyed the most. Going into the film I thought most of these X-Men were terribly miscast. I had no faith in Turner, Sheridan or Smith-McPhee to represent those characters accurately. I’m happy to say though that I found their chemistry to be surprising. It took me a while to see past my preconceived worries but they won me over. I’m actually excited at the idea of a new X-Men film where these personalities are given more screen time and a chance to be the true stars.
Singer does a good job setting up the Grey/Summers romance. They bond quickly over feeling afraid of themselves thanks to their lack of control over their powers. As the movie progresses, it abundantly clear that both of these characters are relying on each other. Looking forward to seeing that continued in the next set of films.
I was definitely one of the guys who saw the early Apocalypse photos and thought “Power Rangers”, and I’m not afraid to admit that I was wrong. During the film I was unsure of Isaac’s performance, but upon reflection I enjoyed it. Sure, he was monologuing. Yes, his plan was unclear. However, he commanded respect when matched against big personalities in Xavier and Magneto. He made me believe that he was capable of the mass destruction brought forth in the film. His power set, although not completely defined, was explained in a satisfactory fashion as he has inherited the powers of all those bodies that came before this one.
Quicksilver; I’m still in shock as to how much I love this character. Even though he’s grossly overpowered I still love those scenes. Those of you that thought he stole the show in Days of Future Past, fear not, he’s back in fine form. I’ll discuss that further in a few paragraphs.
I’m trying to find more about it to like. I really am. Alright, let’s just get on with it…
Although I love both Fassbender and McAvoy as actors, after three films I’m tired of watching Magneto and Xavier battle over ideology. We’ve done this… in FIVE other films. I admire Singer’s attempt to give Cyclops, Jean Grey, Nightcrawler and Quicksilver a chance to shine but in the end, he went back to his old reliable “odd couple”. The two mainstays are the centrepiece of Apocalypse’s plan and the others are given the job of “tussling with henchmen while the action goes down”. Only at the very end of the battle is someone else given the opportunity to be the film’s hero.
And that climax? Nothing we haven’t seen before. Perhaps it’s the fact that I’m an X-Men fan or that I’ve seen the previous entries into this series, but “letting your powers loose” seems like old hat at this point. Can’t I have a superhero film that uses the powers in new and inventive ways? Can’t they write the film to work with these strengths and weaknesses?
It appears that every power has rules that come and go. Cyclops’ beams can destroy 12” thick metal doors and bust mutants out of a secure military base, but they can’t cut through a washroom urinal door, leaving a school bully intact. Psylocke’s psychic projections can cut through buildings and cars, but is no match for Beast’s furry and fleshy neck.
All I want is consistency. If you don’t know how to write limitations into the power set, then don’t write them in the first place. The key to grounding superhero films is creating rules that are believable within our world. Finding that balance is fundamental in allowing an audience to disregard their notions of disbelief and just have fun with it. Instead, Singer is only interested in creating set pieces and cool dutch angle shots. (see Psylocke flipping in midair to slice a vehicle in half or Storm and Cyclops have a cliche energy beam standoff) There are ways to choreograph these fights that don’t insult us as an audience.
That being said, I once again loved Quicksilver’s scenes. In Days of Future Past, they essentially made Quicksilver a God. Faster than the speed of light and able to affect anyone and anything inside of his “time vacuum”. Well, he does this again, but at least in the climax, the villain has an answer for his abilities. Given the power set of Apocalypse, it doesn’t seem altogether out of place for him to be able to stop Quicksilver in his tracks.
I’ll be brief in this regard, but Psyclocke, Angel and Storm are essentially wasted in this film. They were given such a small amount of time and dialogue that they become nothing more than henchmen. It’s disappointing that they weren’t given time to cultivate and craft those roles but that’s the downfall of spending so much time on characters we already know (Magneto, Mystique, etc). I really wish Singer would’ve concentrated on the new crop of mutants.
Also, can we please stop using the same lines in every action film?
“I’m not afraid of him. You should be.”
“Forget everything you think you know.”
“The world needs (insert here)”.
Same old tired dialogue. You want to incite drama and emotion? Then connect the audience with relatable and deep characters in situations that hold dramatic weight. Don’t just watch action films from the 80’s and 90’s and recite their lines. When Leon says “This is for Matilda” at the end of The Professional (I’m aware that’s the North American name), the reason it is so touching, heartbreaking and badass all at once is because we grew with those characters and we felt the conflict and pain. That’s what makes a great action one-liner.
But hey, what the fuck do I know? (have at it internet!)
There’s plenty more I could nitpick but that would include a ton of spoilers and I don’t want to be that guy. I’ll just let it rest for now.
For all the things I disliked about this movie, I can still see the merit in it. Juggling this kind of film isn’t easy. Doing it on a large scale and for a studio that it essentially forcing you to create sequels is even tougher. That being said, although it wasn’t my cup of tea, I see a lot that people could like, maybe even love. So if you liked Days of Future Past (which I didn’t) then I believe you’ll like this film as well. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t live up to my expectations which are apparently becoming impossible to appease according to the masses.