X-men: Apocalypse – 3.5/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

xmen apocalypseX-men: Apocalypse – 3.5/5 –  This is another film that is part of Fox’s big X-men Universe.  With so many in the catalog, there have been many highs and lows.  As a continuation of the story set from the previous films; this one leads us into a new generation of heroes that are familiar from the past.  In short, it plays the card of completing one story while beginning a whole new one.  With so much going on, there is a chance for the story to get convoluted.  X-men: Apocalypse is a film filled with a lot great story and character elements, but falls flat in its climax.  For the ambitious nature and some ‘lore’ elements, there is enough here for a worthy experience at the theaters.

Premise: With the awakening of an all-powerful ancient mutant; the X-men must come together to take on this great threat.

At the heart of the film are four characters from previous (First Class and Days of Futures Past).  You have:

James McAvoy as Professor Charles Xavier

Michael Fassbender as Erik Lehnsherr / Magneto

Jennifer Lawrence as Raven/Mystique

Nicholas Hoult as Hank McCoy / Beast

Just like previous iteration of these characters in this current storyline, these four have done a wonderful job in creating something magical on screen.  For all the flaws that may happen within the story and direction, these four do a great job in holding the core essence of the film intact.  That is the characters, interaction and the evolution of their own personal worth throughout the overarching story.  They have moved forward 10 years from the previous film to the 1980s.  Two (Charles Xavier and Beast) are running the School of Gifted Students, while the other two (Magneto and Mystique) are relatively living low key lives.  When the new enemy surfaces, they all must face sacrifices of their own.  They all must learn how to become the person/mutant they will be in future iterations of the X-men storyline.  The emotional draw and expositional elements come through their conversations and dialogue these four have throughout the film.  The die-hard nature of the characters is littered through subtlety while creating a layer of personal worth that fans of the series and general audiences can appreciate.  In the end, they make the film work by bringing conclusion to their part of the story.  For the rest of the cast, it’s a mixture of new and old characters.  I would suggest to reference the IMDb page.  Overall, they do a relatively good job in adding wealth and value to the X-men universe.  If it’s the new coming class of Jean Grey, Cyclops or Nightcrawler to the returning cast of Moria Mactaggert, Quicksilver and William Stryker, you feel their power on screen.  You get to see decent character depth as well as their use of mutant powers come forth.  With the rest of the cast (Storm, Angel, Havok and Psylocke), they are more or less used for added value to the plot.  Even if they don’t go beyond being plot devices, they don’t completely deter from the film.  When it comes to the new enemy, you have:

Oscar Isaac as En Sabah Nur / Apocalypse

His visceral, suave but subtle like charisma makes him one of the most unique villains on screen.  With the reasoning and depth behind his motivations, you see that this character is not playing the typical ‘conquer the world’ scenario that most comic-book villains do.  Keen on ‘changing the world’ for the better and seeing only the ‘strongest to survive’; he plays the chess board acutely throughout the film.  This is brought out by the great acting from Oscar Isaac as well as his physical prowess that is ironically subtle.  There is purity in the ambiguous nature of his motives, as you see something dark but relative in his purpose.  That makes this villain very scary; one that has purposeful intent beyond being an archetypal version of a ‘bad guy’.  With his interactions with others, it is brooding and vicious, bringing upon a personal struggle that all the others must face when they come in contact with him.  He helps provide the worth and power that brings all the X-men together.

The direction goes along a very straight forward path.  Unlike the last film in the series, this one is focused on situational plot driven elements to keep it on a connective thread.  What you have here is multiple threads of characterization, overarching plot threads that leads to a conclusive path of ‘passing the torch’ method.  What Bryan Singer does is create a situation where we see an ending to the previous storyline while introducing to a newer (somewhat older) place that is familiar for the audience.  This is with the introduction to all the younger mutants we are familiar with (Storm, Jean Grey, Cyclops and Nightcrawler).  This a brought in relatively smoothly within the first act.  While this happens we also get re-introduced to the characters in this current storyline.  We get to see what they are currently doing in the aftermath of the world learning about mutant kind.  Currently, it is 10 years from the previous film; specifically set in 1983.  As we get introduced to all the new and old mutants, it is a seamless transition of story and characterization within this storyline.  We see some motives have changed, but their personalities are still steadfast from previous encounters.  The layering of personal worth and struggle are themes that stay strong throughout; helping us gravitate to new characters while staying relatively close to the returning cast.  Once this is set in stone, we get introduced to plot of this film.  The first mutant known as Apocalypse has been left in a dormant state for millennia because of a betrayal from his followers in Ancient Egypt.  He is awoken in 1983 through an accident, and comes to see the world has changed.  His interactions in this new world creates a feeling of confusion and disgust.  His whole philosophy of ‘survival of the fittest’ fuels his purpose as well as the plot; helping streamline all the multiple threads of characterization into one.  Once he starts bringing together a collection of mutants to his side, the struggle against this all powerful entity begins.  As the film starts its path down a predictable climatic battle, it shifts from its introductory/character elements to a stringing of scenarios.  Here, we get to see the directional focus on mutant powers and lore expositional scenes.  Moving between layers of depth and colorful scenes, this is when the film may seem like it drags.  To most fans, all the subtle ‘nuggets’ combined with the visual eye-popping scenes will keep you engaged throughout.  At the same time, this draws a very thin line on plot/character development that brings about fatigue from the constant use of CGI to ‘create’ a sense of active contact.  Even with all the visual eye candy, it never completely detracts from the film.  The overall fights are amazing, the power display is awe inspiring and the overall themes/tone stays constant.  As everything comes to head, the battle ground between the X-men and Apocalypse is set forth in Cairo.  There is a mixture of typical comic book action and the ‘race against time’ scenario; helping fuel a mesh of powers on display from all the different mutants.  As all becomes relative and the direction is focused on action, there is little or no consideration of completing some plot elements.  What the last act boils down to is the common ‘over-the-top’ visual appeal that is felt through most comic book films.  Even so, the eye candy can be amazing at times.  Some characters’ personalities (Quicksilver, Nightcrawler) help keep the flavor of the film relatively fun.  Once the ultimate showdown takes place, it can be seen as ‘overblown’ use of CGI.  With so much going on, we are left with ‘visual noise’ to design a sense of action driven elements.  This is the one thing that brings the film down as it drowns out everything that has been built up to this this ‘supposed’ ultimate battle.  Even when this happen, the final confrontation shows signs of strong elements from the X-men lore, while breathing something that is mesmerizing and saturated.  The climax is both fulfilling and also dulling.  The ambitious flavor of going ‘big’ and ‘over-the-top’ doesn’t stand out for the better, but it moves us along to the ‘passing the torch’ epilogue.  When we get here, it is methodical as it introduces us to something that we have come to learn as being true.  There is sense of ambition for the future, but one that puts the films back on track to something amazing down the line.

The visuals mix some greatness of ‘mutant powers’.  From all the familiar characters to the new ones; it adds value, worth and struggle to what is going on.  Dealing with something that is unfamiliar and scary, it helps breathe aesthetic appeal to the powers on display.  What makes them stand out is the seamlessness of their powers to the world.  It is organic in nature; feeling like it belongs.  Outside of the powers on display, the overall cinematography creates a world of lush and value.  From the school and the landscapes of Poland, Auschwitz and Cairo; it is amazing to see multiple places.  It adds value to the characters and the story.  The only part where visuals become a little much is near the end.  Watching all the powers on display creates a sense of chaos; one that takes away from everything on screen.  The chaotic nature dulls situations because of its repetitive nature.  The score is relatively balanced throughout.  The use of 1980s musical quips as well as the common resounding instruments help fuel emotional and dramatic tension throughout.

X-men: Apocalypse is a film that has a lot of great characters and lore elements, but falls in the trap of a typical comic book film in the end.  Even for some of the ‘lack thereof’ nature of things throughout, this film is still an enjoyable experience.  If you’re a fan of the film series or like comic book films; this is one for you.  This is a great outing with friends and worth the full price.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *