X-Men: Apocalypse Review
X-Men: Apocalypse isn’t so much a culmination of a trilogy as much as it is a full reboot after Days of Future Past restarted the timeline. This isn’t so much Chapter 3 as much as it is Chapter 1. This isn’t an ending, it’s rebirth. While Xavier, Magneto, Moira and Mystique get a sense of closure to their arcs, the story is more about passing the torch to a new generation. Don’t expect an ending but a beginning.
I have mixed feelings on the cast. While mostly positive, a handful stick out as noticeably bad considering how good most of the cast are in their roles.
Cyclops actually felt a lot more fleshed out than we’re used to and this time around they made him angsty instead of stoic which is a lot more in line with the Cyclops that I know. Tye Sheridan is easily better in the role and shows a lot more personality than James Marsden’s wooden performance.
Much like how I feel like Sheridan is an improvement over Marsden, Shipp is a much better Storm than Berry and I feel like just how McAvoy and Fassbender are passionate about their roles, she truly likes playing Storm and that’s good since Cyclops and Storm should be most important members of the team going forward.
Kodi Smitt-McPhee is great as Nightcrawler. Particularly he brings levity to the films which otherwise deal in serious themes. Considering that we’ll more than likely also see Gambit in the next film, I really look forward to his banter with Channing Tatum in future films.
Sophie Turner needs an accent coach. She’s playing an American as poorly as Halle Berry played a Kenyan in the OT since her accent kept slipping. I feel like she was only cast because she’s played by a popular actress when an unknown would have been much better.
Olivia Munn and Ben Hardy on the other hand didn’t even bother with accents but it’s fine since they’re a couple in the comics and one’s British and one’s American and they just flipped their nationality. They also didn’t get much screen time at all and felt too much like a tease for the upcoming X-Force film.
Olivia Munn breaks her accent even more than Turner does and sounds like she’s already given up on trying a British accent but still unconvincingly attempting one. Considering that not doing the accent is going to cause a plot hole if Fox ever attempt to do a Captain Britain or Excalibur film, an accent coach for Munn is needed even more desperately than one is for Turner.
I’m not bothered at all by Ben Hardy’s lack of an accent as I’ve always read Angel as British in the comics despite knowing full well that he’s American.
Jennifer Lawrence and Nicholas Hoult spent too much time without makeup. I get that they hate wearing it but Hoult looks too young and really should stay in makeup so we can believe that he’s as old as the character he’s playing. McAvoy looks older than he is and Lawrence is playing a shape-shifter. Unlike Lawrence, Hoult’s lack of makeup and not staying in his hairy form as Beast is much more jarring that Lawrence staying in human form since in a film this packed, Beast gets the least amount of character development out of all the protagonists and simply isn’t on screen that long. There is no reason that Fox couldn’t afford more makeup for Beast considering his lack of screen time. But Hoult was still far more convincing in the role than he was in Days of Future Past and definitely acts a lot more like Beast even when he lacks his stage makeup. He was a weak point in previous films but this time around, I actually liked him. He still isn’t as good as Kelsey Grammer was and has more work to do to better portray Beast but otherwise, he’s finally settling into the role.
As much as I like Jennifer Lawrence and Evan Peters, they’re clogging the main franchise and need be given an X-Factor spin-off with a new Multiple Man for the new rebooted series and the introduction of characters like Forge, Strong Guy, Rictor, Shatterstar, Wolfsbane, Val Cooper, Polaris, M and Layla Miller. Much like New Mutants and X-Force, X-Factor is a core part of the X-Men universe and with how big of a star Jennifer Lawrence is, she needs to be put in a starring role as the head of her own team. Plus with how overstuffed this film was and how Beast felt like he didn’t get enough character development compared to everyone else, the next film putting Wolverine and Gambit on the team means that Lawrence and Peters should no longer be on the team. Both characters have much more connections to the X-Factor cast and a new film or TV show that would be billed as, “X-Files in the X-Men Cinematic Universe” with mystery and supernatural elements like Shi’Ar and Brood aliens and alternate dimensions like Mojo World and not dividing the cast up by team is just going to make the X-Men feel bloated and they’re the two who are the most expendable.
Apocalypse felt like a threat and his motivation was a lot more fleshed out than it often is in the comics. I really liked Isaac in the role and feel like he was a much better villain that many of Marvel’s. Apocalypse in the Comics has been reinvented as an anti-hero in X-Cutioner’s Song and an impartial observer during Onslaught and it’s good that Singer and Kinberg have kept his characterization and motives similar to how they were in Fall of the Mutants and Age of Apocalypse. He’s a social Darwinist and a Luddite who feels that technology is preserving the lives of the weak and inferior and therefore the world needs a cataclysm to keep Considering that Apocalypse is a explicitly described as a psionic entity who possesses host bodies, it feels like he’s being saved for future installments. I’d actually welcome that since Oscar Isaac is an incredibly talented actor who does a far better job here than he did with Star Wars and is almost on-par with his role in Ex Machina. In a series that keeps reusing Magneto and William Stryker as villains with nearly every installment, Apocalypse as another villain with more than one appearance would be very welcome and make the X-Men franchise feel less stuck on the same two villains.
Much like Oscar Isaac’s Apocalypse, Archangel’s death also feels temporary as he has a Wolverine-style healing factor, we know that X-Force is coming and his lack of screen time may be Bryan Singer’s way of giving Tim Miller more creative freedom when it comes time for the inevitable X-Force spin-off. Not that it’s a bad thing since Warren is an incredibly complex character who’s far more interesting as an anti-hero than as a villain and I wouldn’t mind seeing again. In fact, I’d be upset if Archangel doesn’t return for X-Force.
The only death that actually feels permanent is Havok’s which feels strange considering that Jubilee is the most expendable of the cast when considering the future of the franchise and Lana Condor got absolutely no screentime as Jubilee. It’s particularly jarring as Havok is strongly tied to the X-Factor franchise and Mystique and Quicksilver both survive. Then again, X-Factor – particularly Peter David’s second run on the title – deals heavily with time travel, unexplained phenomena and alternate universes so there is still a way for Lucas Till to return if Fox are willing to pay enough money to Jennifer Lawrence to get X-Factor off he ground. After all, she is an A-lister and Evan Peters does happen to be a highlight of the X-Men series so Fox not developing something with X-Factor in film or television would be incredibly surprising.
The sets and action scenes felt a lot bigger in scope than Singer’s other work. X2’s Lady Deathstrike fight was too short and a lot of Singer’s sets feel claustrophobic this time around things felt extended and open. It felt like Singer is learning from his mistakes.
Singer actually was finally willing to use subtitles. I hated Valkyrie because nobody bothered to Speak German and nobody used a German accent. Again, Singer is learning from his mistakes and X-Men: Apocalypse is a far better film than Valkyrie for it.
The time skips were a bit too much. The next film needs to take place in the late 80s instead of the 90s or else McAvoy, Peters and Fassbender will just seem a bit too young to be playing who they’re supposed to be portraying. Cable and Deadpool also needs to involve time travel to the past so we can get a crossover and also not have two timelines with the Deadpool films forever lowering the stakes of the films set in the past. I’d rather see each film in the series be a period piece and have Deadpool’s knowledge of pop culture through the decades be a plot point.
John Ottman’s score is better than the score for Days of Future Past and on par with X-Men 2. The return of the X2 and DOFP theme during the opening credits and its reprise throughout the film brought a smile to my face every time I heard it as it is one of the most iconic film scores of all time. Regardless of who directs the next film, Ottman absolutely must return.
The script feels tighter than Days Of Future Past thanks to the return of two of the three X-Men 2 screenwriters. While the dialog in the highly overrated DOFP felt stilted and expository, here the characters each seem to have their own voice and the dialog comes across as a lot more natural as a result. Kinberg honestly is a serviceable writer but he’s clearly outclassed when he’s working on films with nine-figure budgets and needs assistance from writers who are far more talented than he is.
The film felt like it was trying too hard to set up sequels and spin-offs. There were obvious hints that Proteus is going to be the next story adapted from a line that Moira makes about having a son and being divorced and the post-credits scene sets up both Gambit and Wolverine 3 and sets the stage for X-23 to debut. Not that it’s a bad thing but a certain cameo scene felt both needed for the future of the franchise while also being detrimental to this installment in the same way that Archangel’s lack of screen time did.
The Wolverine cameo felt forced but also like it was needed just to clarify Logan’s origins. It was retconning DOFP’s status quo since Wolverine without Weapon X feels less interesting and it was also trying to find a way to get him on the team but it felt like they were trying too hard to set up Wolverine 3 and be able to set Wolverine up for the next X-Men film. Hugh Jackman also didn’t even get any actual lines and was just as wasted as Munn was but it was still good to see Fox actually try to retcon the end of DOFP and fix a poor decision that they made in the last film. The problem is that it’s unexplained and will absolutely require James Mangold to address rather than allowing Mangold to be able to tell the story that he wants to. Wolverine also felt like he was over too soon and it feels strange for Jean Grey to let him escape instead of invite him to join the X-Men and fight Apocalypse in the final battle, particularly considering Hugh Jackman’s star power. That along with a post-credits scene that seems to force both Mangold and Doug Liman to use Mister Sinister in Wolverine 3 and Gambit. It’s a cool nod but it also feels like Bryan Singer is forcing the entire Fox studio to adopt his vision for the future of the franchise rather than allow other director’s to develop the X-Men series organically.
That being said, the film definitely juggles the various protagonists better than Civil War (aside from Wolverine and Beast) and the editing on the actions scenes is certainly less choppy but while I enjoyed it more than Civil War and especially Batman V Superman, it still doesn’t top Deadpool for me as I cannot ignore its flaws and still feel like the franchise has places that it can improve upon next year with the scheduled Wolverine and Gambit films and in 2018 with Cable and Deadpool, X-Men 7, and New Mutants.
Overall, I’d say that I doubt that Bryan Singer will ever top his original X-Men film but I certainly enjoyed X-Men: Apocalypse more than the other X-Men film aside from Fist Class or Deadpool despite its flaws. It’s worth seeing since it’s the last Marvel superhero film that you’ll see this year until Doctor Strange hits in November and the second best of the year. Just be aware of the flaws going in.
– Singer’s growth as a director
– A better script than Days of Future Past
– John Ottman’s Score
– Feels like the first real X-Men film since X-Men 3
– Most protagonists get adequate screentime
– Oscar Isaac’s Performance
– Successfully reboots a stagnant franchise far better than last year’s Fantastic Four did
– The Majority of the Cast are better than the actors they replace
– Sophie Turner and Olivia Munn are worse than Famke Jasson and Mei Melcolan and both seriously need accent coaches if they’re to remain in the X-Men films as they were painful to listen to
– Beast and Wolverine needed more screentime
– Havok’s death feels like the only one that’ll actually stick.
– Beast doesn’t look like he aged at all and needs more time in makeup.
– Too focused on universe building, particularly for X-Force and Wolverine 3