“X-Men: Apocalypse” The Routine Follow-Up To An Amazing Sequel

By Scott Kurland
Film: X-Men: Apocalypse
Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Oscar Issac, Nicholas Hoult, Evan Peters, Tye Sheridan, and Rose Byrne
Rated PG-13
Director: Bryan Singer

There have been a total of nine “X-Men” films. This year alone we got two; “Deadpool” and…I’ll get back to the second film in a minute. Some of the “X-Men” films have been incredible: “X-Men: Days Of Future Past”, “X2: X-Men United”, and, of course, “Deadpool”. Sadly, there have been some mishaps like “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” and “X-Men: The Last Stand”. Back in 2011, they rebooted the series with “X-Men: First Class;” the first in a new trilogy starring Michael Fassbender as Magneto and James McAvoy as Charles Xavier. This week’s film “X-Men: Apocalypse” is the second “X-Men” to be released this year. Honestly, after the genius that was “Deadpool,” can any film about mutants top the merc with a mouth? Let’s find out shall we?

“X-Men: Apocalypse” takes place in 1983 with Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) seeing the “Xavier School For Gifted Youngsters” flourish with influx of new students. It’s been almost ten years since the events of “X-Men: Days Of Future Past.” Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) has become a symbol of freedom for mutants. Magneto (Michael Fassbender) has gone into hiding as he’s a wanted man after his attack on the president. Things begin to take a sudden turn when En Sabah Nur “Apocalypse” (Oscar Isaac), the first mutant, is awakened from his centuries-long cryo-sleep. Apocalypse seeks out mutants with stronger powers to bring about the end of days for humanity. All that's really missing from his collection is Magneto. Can the X-Men get to Magneto before Apocalypse? Or, is mankind doomed?

This isn’t the worst “X-Men” film, nor is it the best . I know I compare  new sequels and trilogies to “Star Wars” a lot, and I’m going to do it again here. In this new “X” trilogy, “X-Men: Apocalypse” is the equivalent of “Return of The Jedi.” It bookends the film beautifully, but it lacks definition in the eyes of these grander films. “X-Men: First Class” set the stage, “X-Men: Days Of Future Past” was the execution, and “X-Men: Apocalypse” is the climax. As climaxes go, this one is extremely tame.

There’s plenty of action, but that doesn’t make for a good story. The story is fine, but the graphic novel this movie is based off of is better. I know the same argument can be made for  “Captain America: Civil War;” however, “X-Men: Apocalypse” drastically changed a key element of the graphic novel. In the film, it’s Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique who leads the “X-Men” to save Professor X. In the graphic novel, it’s Magneto. That one detail would have resulted in a much better story. Magneto leading the X-Men to do good and save the day would've brought his character arc full-circle. Director Bryan Singer took on too much with this film. In the past, he’s made three excellent “X-Men” films. This time, he tried to out-do himself and, in the process, it lead to the films downfall. 

I liked parts of “X-Men: Apocalypse.” I liked them quite a bit. The scenes with Quicksilver, Cyclops, Magneto, and Charles Xavier were well written and executed. The introduction of new characters like Archangel, Psylocke, and Apocalypse are where the film gets messy. I don’t want to say they’re poorly written, but they are one-dimensional and lack any really backstory. Olivia Munn gave up being in “Deadpool” to play Psylocke and I think that was a mistake. Psylocke is a strong female anti-hero in the comics. In this film, she gets one fight scene and three lines of dialog. That can also be said about Ben Hardy as Angel. One fight, no lines, which is disheartening if Singer continues on with these films. Good villains in films need to be fleshed out because we need to root for them as much as we root for the heroes.

I am slightly recommending this film, because there are far worse films playing and I did like certain elements. Here’s what worked in “X-Men: Apocalypse”: Fassbender and McAvoy are as good as Stewart and McKellan in their respective roles. Fassbender brings a quiet desperation to Magneto that wasn’t present in McKellan’s performances. Fassbender is one of the greatest actors we have working today and he brings an Oscar-worthy performance to every role he plays. McAvoy on the other hand, is Professor Charles Xavier with his soft-spoken intellect and kind-hearted nature. McAvoy is now the only person who can play Professor X.  
“X-Men: Apocalypse” is by far better than “X-Men: The Last Stand” and “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”. With that said, it is lacking in certain spots and that opening is the worst five minutes of reshoots I have ever seen. Still, the Quicksilver race against time scene is worth the price of admission. The performances from Hoult, Lawrence, and Byrne really compliment Fassbender and McAvoy. So if you’re in the mood to take the kids to a matinee and you already saw  “Captain America: Civil War,” see “X-Men Apocalypse”.

scott kurlandComment