Movie Reviews

Movie Review: X-men: Apocalypse (2016)

X-Men: Apocalypse Review

I don’t own the trailer.
It’s here, the end of the world is here! X-men: Apocalypse is the third movie in the newest X-men trilogy consisting of X-men: First Class, X-men: Days of Future Past and X-men: Apocalypse and I have to say that I liked it overall but unlike other Marvel movies, I didn’t leave the theater feeling as if the movie was as good as I’ve been hearing from other casual moviegoers. I haven’t read any other reviews but I think the movie was just fine. I’ll talk about why I think that below. Remember, this is my opinion of this film, if you’ve seen it and agree with me, please let me know in the comments, if you disagree, also please feel free to respond in the comments as well.
  • Cast and Characters. Of course James McAvoy as Charles Xavier and Michael Fassbender as Erik Lensher are great as they have been since First Class. Jennifer Lawrence returns as Mystique, Nicholas Hoult as Beast/Hank McCoy and Rose Byrne as Moira McTaggert. We also have lots of new characters as well which I have to say I enjoyed, well for the most part anyway. I’m not going to talk about all of them here but the ones I think were standouts.
    • Michael Fassbender does his thing as Erik, he is trying to live a normal life following the events in the 70s in Days of Future Past but things do not turn out the way he would like and he becomes one of the four horseman. Fassbender plays him with such emotion and vulnerability that it’s easy to feel sorry for him. He is still a young man and still continues to battle between his rage and his sense to protect those he’s known most of his life. It’s always such a struggle and I think Fassbender does that so well.
    • James McAvoy as Charles is wonderful. I adore McAvoy and I think he has such charisma as young Charles that it’s easy to believe in him and his hope for the future of the world together with humans and mutants. He’s also funny which helps keep him a humanized character instead of just being one of the most powerful mutants in the world. Charles also goes through both physical and mental struggles as he deals with watching his old best friend fall in with Apocalypse and his want to cleanse the world of the weak. He battles mentally with Apocalypse due to his mind being strong and the fear, the strength and the hope McAvoy presents in Charles is palpable.
    • Tye Sheridan joins the cast as Scott Summers/Cyclops and I already like the actor from Mud but I think he plays Scott well. I always remember Scott being the leader of the group, strong, smart and loyal. Tye plays Scott with a charm that shows he has the chance to be a great leader once he learns to fully accept his abilities and his natural inclinations. There is also fear and vulnerability in Scott, his abilities are powerful and he has yet to completely control them but as he learns, the confidence is there. Also, he does has some nice chemistry with Sophie Turner.
    • Sophie Turner is Jean Gray and I haven’t seen her in anything (I don’t watch Game of Thrones) and while I believe she had trouble with her American accent, I enjoyed her. She’s soft and cute but she holds herself as someone who is not only afraid of their power, but someone who has yet to fully understand the vastness of what she can do. Jean is probably the one of the most powerful mutants, if not the most powerful and watching her learn how to have the chance to be there is awesome. Sophia maintains a vulnerability as Jean that is sometimes maddening because I know what she can do if she tapped into it and stop being afraid. I do think she should relax her face a bit when she’s speaking because sometimes it looks as if she’s not emoting and it doesn’t come off scared or nervous but… indifferent which I’m sure isn’t the goal.
    • Kodi Smit-Mcphee is my favorite ever: Nightcrawler/Kurt Wagner and I’m so happy he was in this movie. I adored him! He’s so tall and lanky that whenever the camera panned to him, or focused on him, I kept looking at how long his neck was (lol). Kurt is awkward and funny, he’s from the circus so he hasn’t ever been to America or experience much in their culture so he’s excited to be able to experience the 80s era in the US. Which, I have to say, his outfit was definitely Michael Jackson “Thriller” era inspired. Whenever he’s afraid, even with that blue makeup on, he is able to express it well, he’s not sure his strength either and I know Nightcrawler can do some amazing things with his Bamf-ing ability. It’s interesting though with him being in this storyline and to think of him X2: X-men United and the connection. I know they “erased” those storylines in a way but still.
    • Evan Peters is great as Peter/Quicksilver. He’s funny, charming and will be a great addition if they continue to make more movies with this younger cast. There is a scene, towards the end, that I won’t spoil where he comes face to face with Magneto and it was great.
    • Oscar Isaac as Apocalypse. First, I think I might be a little biased because I love me some Oscar Isaac and I think he did well with what he had. His makeup and costume seemed very constricting, but he plays creepy and intimidating well. Even though there were like 5 voice bytes layered, his base voice, was silky and alluring which is useful for his role. He really tries to do his thing in this movie and I don’t think he was miscast because I think he could have killed it.
  • The costumes. This is set in the 80s so there is a wide variety of clothing from them to pull from which is hinted at Nightcrawler’s hair and Michael Jackson attire, Jubilee’s yellow jacket and Mystique’s crinkly hairdo. So far, this is the best Magneto costume, it actually looks like armor and a suit instead of fancy robes. Angel’s costume was very “comic book- esque”, as was Psylocke’s. The costumes at the end after the battle is over when the young heroes are in the danger room, were a nice nod to their comic book counterparts and also probably the closest to actual costumes so far. Not just black leather. I mean they’re not perfect, they could look a bit better but the nod was nice and the idea that we could see more comic book style costumes in the future makes me happy. Keep away from the spandex though.
  • Wolverine’s cameo. This is NOT a spoiler. If you’ve seen the trailers then you know he’s in it. There are times where I think they force Logan into the leading roles too much buuut when he’s kicking butt it’s the best thing ever.
  • The opening credits. This is a minor thing but of course I love the X-men theme period. It also goes through time from Apocalypse’s time to the 80s, that little tidbit was pretty nice.
  • The powers. Considering most of the abilities had by mutants are outwards, the way they are portrayed are handled well, at least some of them. Especially with the young ones not fully being able to control their powers. Showing the vastness of Charles’s telepathy, Magneto’s power being fueled by his emotions, Jean’s powers, Scott’s optic beams, Nightcrawler’s teleporting (there’s a scene towards the end where he teleports someone onto a jet and they actually show in a way, where he goes when he teleports!), and Quicksilver’s speed (another great scene).
  • The villain. What? How can he be both in pros and cons? Well… Apocalypse is here because I think his character was built up too much but when he actually came around, it was hardly what it could have been. He’s built up to be this great villain who was considered a God in his time, and while the role of “cult leader” (as Oscar Isaac says) was played nicely because his role is to appeal to the rage, loneliness and despair these people are feeling. He takes them and makes them stronger, making them think he has their best interests in mind, that part of him is fine but the idea of him being this powerful mutant, who could be the end of the world wasn’t big enough, or scary enough. It kind of reminds me of the Age of Ultron and how is “age” was more of a week, same kind of thing. Also, his motivations aren’t entirely clear. Yeah, he was lost in time, it went on without him and now he’s angry but… why exactly? He says stuff like “humans and their machines” and rejects the ideas of using machines, and stuff about people being weak but his motives aren’t made entirely clear. Especially since he manages to persuade four people to follow him.
  • Mystique being a “heroine”. I don’t know if this has to do with me getting tired of Jennifer Lawrence or not, but I don’t like the idea of Mystique being put in the forefront like she is a major player. I don’t mind her growing up with Charles and being like his sister but it’s almost like they keep trying to make her the lead when she’s not. Her character isn’t that interesting to be a leading figure. I get that they wanted to make it seem like she’s a hero as she’s the one who stopped Erik from killing the President in Days of Future Past after Charles encourages her not to the same. I mean, young Ororo looks up to her, the younger people “look up to her”, Kurt is ‘you’re her!’ when he sees her… why exactly? Because she supposedly is “mutant and proud”? If that’s true, then why she is never in her full mutant form? It’s never really explained why they look up to her like that. Is it because they saw her stop Erik? I don’t know if the turnaround of watching her attempt to do the same thing and then her stopping Erik would have that much affect. She’s just Katniss with powers, it’s annoying and I still wouldn’t follow her. I liked her version of Mystique much better in First Class.
    • As a side note, I also have to say that the blue textured body outfit doesn’t look as good on Lawrence as it did on Rebecca Romijn and now I wish they stop using that look and stick with her comic book appearance.
  • Anticlimactic. While trying to not spoil anything, the climax should have been more epic. He’s Apocalypse for goodness sake! There is a mental battle with Charles which was fine but Apocalypse was upset that his plan was ruined. However he doesn’t really do anything about it. It should have been grand, “you screw up my plans everything is going down”. Most of the damage done is by his Horsemen which I think is a cop out. I get that they’re his “followers” or “protectors during the rituals” buuut he has all these powers but we only see him use five or six of them. I kind of wish this movie was split into two, this is one of the few times it should have split.
  • Slow on the start up. By this I mean, it kind of takes a while to get some traction. To an extent that’s okay but when it starts to feel like it’s dragging in places, it doesn’t work. The first half is the part that’s dragging the most, maybe it’s because it’s trying to introduce so much but it takes a while to get moving.
  • Mutant Acceptance. Now, I know Days of Future Past erased a lot of the past movies (X2 will always be the best and forever in the timeline to me), but I can’t imagine humans being accepting of mutants just because of what happened in the 70s. If anything, that should have made it worse and made people freak out about them more. I mean, Kurt is walking around in America without a problem, no one reacts to him. They could have at least shown some people reacting in fear, curiosity, or disgust or something. Even when Scott’s power is first revealed, he’s in school, the student is just like ‘whoa’ instead of thinking about the fact that this dude just shot beams from his eyes. X-men always represented the “minorities” in their treatment as a parallel to real life, no one is that accepting just because someone did something 10 years ago. I mean, the actual mutant students are more afraid of Jean than humans are afraid of mutants as a whole. It just seemed unrealistic to me.
  • No payout. I’m not sure if that’s the best to phrase it but what I mean is, points that happen in the beginning, that may have been started, weren’t concluded, or they happened so fast it was unsatisfying. One of those being Nightcrawler and Angel’s fight and Quicksilver finally meeting Magneto and knowing he’s his father (not a spoiler, it’s in the trailer).
  • Tonal Shifts. There aren’t many. There are bright moments in the movie, a lot of it dealing with the younger kids otherwise the movie is heavy and bleak and not in an effective way.
  • Characters being underutilized. There’s a lot of characters in this movie and some of them aren’t used well. Storm, Angel and Psylocke are all victims of this, it’s unfortunate that Apocalypse’s minions are the ones who are underdeveloped and underused.
    • Storm is the first one recruited and after her introduction, she doesn’t get more talking lines, nor is her power used to it’s full potential. I know she’s young, a teenager but nowhere near close. She does more than conjure lightening and float. Also, why exactly did she choose to join Apocalypse? It’s never actually said.
    • Angel is introduced in a cool scene, he talks once, later has a small scene where he’s recruited and that’s the last time he talks and I think it’s like two or three lines. He’s cool too, his metal wings are awesome but he barely does anything. Plus, why exactly did he join Apocalypse? Because he gave him metal wings? Meh… this could have been played up more considering his introduction is tied with Nightcrawlers (keep an eye out for that spoiler talk for more on this one).
    • Psylocke seems cool (Olivia Munn is fine but she definitely isn’t a strong actress), her motivations are bit more obvious than Storm and Angel’s but still nothing, she probably does the most in the fight at the end but she still does nothing throughout the movie.
Overall, it was interesting to see that after I saw the movie, the entire theater was silent. I see a lot of movies and I have never seen the theater, especially for a superhero movie and I wasn’t surprised to be honest. I don’t think it’s “one of the best superhero movies” or anything like that because it’s the weakest out of this new X-men trilogy, which is funny because that’s kind of referenced in the movie itself. But the movie lacked the same type of gravitas that some of the previous ones had. I mean, it’s not horrible but it doesn’t reach the potential it has, nor the hype surrounding it. It’s Apocalypse but it hardly lives up to that name. The stakes aren’t high enough, they don’t hardly reach the “epicness” it should have. Some characters are underutilized, some are overused and it’s no longer interesting, while some of the powers are handled well and come across as cool, others still look cheesy. Characters who had great chemistry in previous films (Charles and Erik) barely have screen time together and when they do, it’s the same rehashed conversations.
It’s anticlimactic, the villain lacks quite a bit but I don’t blame the actor at all, the younger team members shine a bit in their own right, some more than others (Kurt) but others are background unfortunately (Jubilee). If you’re a casual moviegoer the movie may fall flat, but if you are an X-men comic fan (or a fan in general) it may sate some of your needs. Personally, the movie didn’t do very much for me but it’s worth the watch for the new cast.
Rating: 2.79 out of 5 stars.
Click here for the spoiler talk.


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