In artistic ventures, it can rarely be considered a good thing to ignore the sensible and the logical. It’s something that many can appreciate even in a movie as unrealistic as X-Men: Apocalypse. Relying on those types of features can help bring some success, but skipping out on them will likely do some serious damage to what could have been a rousing piece of work with the ability to impress.
Believed to be the first and most powerful mutant the world has ever known, Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) has awaken from his slumber and finds himself disgusted with the world in 1983. His way of remedying the problem is to cleanse it of the filth that’s been building since he last ruled the world as a god back in ancient Egypt. In order to do this, he sets out to build a team of mutants, but another group of mutants led by Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) make it their duty to stop him.
X-Men: Apocalypse feels more like a beginning of a franchise instead of a continuation of one. I say that because we return to a world where the X-Men still haven’t been officially formed yet and Magneto never really got around to that revolution that he was rambling on about since X-Men: First Class. In case you didn’t realize it, that movie took place in the 1960’s while X-Men: Apocalypse takes place 15 to 20 years later. In short, out of three whole movies that each span well over two hours, nothing has actually happened yet.
How do you justify making a third movie set years beyond the original and still not have anything in motion? The first movie was about the origins of the legendary comic book group that also set up everything for the future of humans and mutants in the franchise. The next two should have been about them establishing their identities, but that hasn’t happened yet. I guess that means we’re looking to the fourth picture of this run of X-Men movies to do that.
Aside from the fact that nothing has actually occurred yet in their universe, there are more issues here. I’m not one of those people who feels that you need to stay faithful to the source material completely. It’s also proven that sometimes veering off can even drastically improve things. That is how we got the all black suit that helped in making Batman rise above Superman in terms of popularity. Change is also a staple of comic books anyway, so I don’t see the need to completely loyal to what’s already been laid out.
With that being said, there’s a difference between not being completely faithful and barely being recognizable. One of the biggest and most obvious changes here is Apocalypse himself. In the comics, he’s essentially the ultimate mutant who is pretty much impossible to kill. His looks are intimidating, his voice is insanely strong and no one with any sense is going to walk up to him and attempt to off him.
In this movie however, they have him moping around looking like somebody’s depressed grandfather. Not only that, but the character isn’t physically imposing in any way imaginable. He’s a good actor, but that’s what happens when you cast Oscar Isaac in a role fit for someone who’s more physically threatening. Then again, the grandfather look doesn’t help him much either.
Apocalypse also doesn’t actually do much. He makes a few mediocre speeches that somehow inspire four mutants to follow him, but that’s just about it. With this kind of character, you expect more from him since we know he’s capable of so much more than that. Focusing on those actual abilities as a mutant would have most likely changed things and potentially made the film much more captivating for viewers.
Another problem that this has comes in the form of the ages of the characters. With First Class taking place in the 60’s and being about a couple of guys (Professor X and Magneto) who were hitting puberty during WWII, you would expect these guys to age a bit seeing as this is going on in 1983. Instead of that happening, everyone who is returning looks pretty much the same as they always did. This may not be a big deal for others for some reason, but for me, it makes it look as if the people behind this didn’t really care all that much.
We also don’t get an honest action scene until late in the movie. In total, we end up with two legitimate fight sequences. One of them involves Wolverine, the other is the final battle. Before these, we get a couple of punches scattered around and one explosion, but that’s literally about it. Just about everything else is dialogue.
Surprisingly, one of the factors that works here is the story. It’s not disjointed, confusing or even ignored like we see in some movies. This part of X-Men: Apocalypse is actually solid. Even the explanation of Apocalypse and how he came to be is to be appreciated. It’s just unfortunate they fail in just about every other category. Using this story properly gave them an opportunity to create a feature deserving of at least some form of credit. Instead, we get a movie that’s disappointing because nothing else works.
Even with my appreciation for X-Men: First Class, I’ve been let down by this franchise as a whole. It won’t happen, but a part of me wants Fox to reboot this series again. That way, we could restart everything and try to make sense of it all by introducing logic to this world. Of course, that would require getting a new director and regrettably finding a new actor to star as Wolverine, but it’s probably better than being stuck with this jumbled mess for the next several installments.
When it comes to X-Men movies, it’s safe to say that the high hopes that I had for the future are officially a thing of the past. Seeing as how these were some of my favorite comics growing up, it would have been nice to have seen them do a better job with the property. It looked like they would after watching what Matthew Vaughn put together, but it’s fallen off and doesn’t appear to have the quality or opportunity necessary to catch up and straighten things out.
Director: Bryan Singer
Film Length: 140 minutes
Release Date: May 27, 2016
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
- Score - 3/103/10