X-Men Apocalypse is being reviewed and touted as “the X-Men movie for the fans” yet the way it stands, no single X-Men movie has ever fared extremely well with dedicated followers and X-Men’s latest installment isn’t going to change that.
It’s a shame however as the bones for a decent X-Men film are there and unlike Days of Future Past, there’s no real source/story line material for Apocalypse to stay true to…well with the exception of which characters pop up as his loyal horsemen, but it did allow for the writers to be a little bit more creative in this outing. That said, there is a major problem with Apocalypse – there is just way too many named characters to really do everyone justice especially for an X-Men movie where standard scene-hogger Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) is literally seen in a single slash and dash scene. Characters with major story lines or backgrounds needing to be fleshed out suffer and feel like stepford wives waiting for instructions on what to do next.
Of Apocalypse’s four horsemen, it’s weather witch Storm (Alexandra Shipp), telekinetic ninja Psylocke (Olivia Munn) and Angel (Ben Hardy) that suffer the most screen injustice along with good-gal and fan favorite, Jubilee (Lana Condor) who have either been relegated to single lines of dialogue (Psylocke) or virtually stripped of their powers (Jubilee) and it’s a shame considering the high visibility of these characters in advertising and posters.
With Apocalypse’s (Oscar Isaac) fourth horseman being Magneto (Michael Fassbender), the only true background fleshed out is his, which of course, has been explored in pretty much every other X-Men movie made to date but at least toggles the viewers memory as to a valid reason why Magneto would join forces with Apocalypse. Of the other three, Angel is picked up licking his wounds after escaping from an underground mutant fighting ring, Storm while as a teen thief in Cairo and Psylocke as she works with Caliban (Tómas Lemarquis) secretly transporting mutants underground. There is just not enough between those other characters to really back them to joining Apocalypse, especially with Storm whom we all know eventually becomes a fully fledged X-Man and Psylocke who we never really quite understand why she joins.
On the flip side, re-imagined characters of Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), Cyclops (Tye Sheridan) and Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) are given ample amount of screen time for us to be introduced to and even like. Smit-McPhee’s Nightcrawler is an absolute scene stealer. And of the returning cast, Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique, James McAvoy’s Xavier and Nicholas Hault’s Beast are all there to keep a tie between the old and the new though of all the characters presented on screen during Apocalypse, it’s that of CIA agent and Xavier’s love interest Moira Mactaggert (Rose Burne) that garnered the most unnecessary screen time.
From discovering Apocalypse’s resurrection to informing the X-Men of said event to even joining them to rescue a captured Xavier, Moira Mactaggert is there along for the ride – even at one point, donning the same black leather fighting suit worn by Beast, Jean Grey and the other X-Men while piloting an escape jet.
Apocalypse will however be the one single character to really test an X-Men fans faith in the movie franchise. The comic version of the character presents a grand and powerful mutant, giant in size and ability to cause world wide damage with his special powers, in effect, Apocalypse is quite terrifying…the movie version is like 50% of the way there. His stature is not grand nor immense and he spends a bulk of the movie uttering long and drawn out speeches in a monotonous and robotic tone.
X-Men Apocalypse spends a large bulk of it’s movie building up a story that ends with a massive action sequence but it does so in a long and laborious tone that will leave many wondering when the action is going to come. When it does finally hit, those action sequences however are pretty decent though once again, reliant on the CGI. Some may feel a bit hard done by with Storm but I’ll admit, this is probably the most action scenes we’ve ever had by the character while first timer Psylocke and her electric pink telekinetic sword and whip were actually very cool to watch even if she kind of looks a bit ridiculous in her minimal vinyl outfit.
Yes, X-Men Apocalypse is a ‘movie for the fans’, many will pick up on familiar characters etched into the background, many will wonder why their favorite character was even there to begin with. Heck, I’m wondering why the cheeky nod to another comic based X-Man Dazzler was cut from the final film. I’m guessing another directors cut ‘aka the Days of Future Past Rogue Edition’ will pack even more into an already packed movie.
X-Men Apocalypse is in cinemas now.