Forgive my slightly cheesy title. I was mimicking the god-like villain in the film, Apocalypse, whose high-and-mighty antics only make him look farcical. Just like the film itself, Bryan Singer and team went out to make a finale of epic proportions without grasping the essence of what made the franchise so great. For all the provocative themes of acceptance, fear, alienation and identity that First Class and Days Of Future Past have so skillfully underscored, Apocalypse is a largely superficial and extraneous installment. There’s no denying it – I was disappointed.
X:Men Apocalypse reverts to the cliche plot by pitting ‘good guys’ with an insanely powerful baddie. And truth be told, it wasn’t good. Apocalypse didn’t scare, interest nor intrigue me. Often, the crowd laughed more than once at his over-the-top appearance and mannerisms. His deep-echoey words don’t go further than ‘I can make you stronger.’ X-Men: Apocalypse Recruits Disenfranchised and Powerful Mutants With One-Liners.Occasionally Two-Liners seems to be a more accurate description. I found Apocalypse extremely flat as he served only to facilitate the role of the almighty villain. Sadly, his messianic presence is an overblown caricature of evil and power that, frankly, just dumbs down X:Men’s strength in moral ambiguity.
I’ll get to what’s good before continuing my general impression. The introduction of new characters was pretty cool. Tye Sheridan’s take on Cyclops is a throwback to the punk kid who thought everything was against him while Sophie Turner draws inspiration from trademark Jean Grey, while adding her own ferocity to the character. Yet, her screen-time was pretty short which hampered the possibility to explore Jean Grey’s traumatic emotional struggles and her overwhelming kindness. Perhaps the newest addition that impressed me the most was Nightcrawler. This teenage version played by Kodi Smit-McPhee is totally humourous and light-hearted and I loved how the writers used that to juxtapose his devilish form.
Still, I thought there was too little time devoted to explore character struggle…people make whole films about normal teens finding themselves. Sure..but mutant teens’ problems are a flicker away from resolution? Huge backstories and character psychology behind the X-Men misfits could have lifted the film. Yet, the film chose to squeeze blood out of a stone, or rather, give ‘life’ to Apocalypse almighty who has absolutely nothing to offer than to cause literal and metaphorical destruction. New blood? Check. Talented actors? Check. A good story? Apocalyptic screw up. And well don’t even talk about the new villains…all that hype about Psylocke and Angel amounts to nothing. They were flatter than Apocalypse and do no…I repeat, no justice whatsoever to their respective characters. Development? Zero. Narrative? Contrived. Character depth? Ziltch etc etc. You name it, they butchered it. Sorry to break this to hardened X-Men fans, this is a forgettable film.
It isn’t hard, therefore, to immediately pick out the rare
flashes flash of brilliance. Henrik Lensherr/Magento’s scene early on is executed perfectly and shows us what a true X-Men film is all about. That’s about all I’m going to say, I’m not spoiling the only genuinely impactful scene in the whole film. This film is just so bland that if I were making it, I’d completely scrap the Apocalypse thing out. Why can’t the film center around the three characters Cyclops, Jean Grey and Nightcrawler? Then have Magneto, Prof X and Mystique be the ones who help them navigate their struggles respectively, who in turn, gain perspective from the youngsters as well. My suggestion isn’t going to change anything but I’m simply pointing one of the many ways in which the film should have gone about their story. X-Men First Class and X-Men Days Of Future Past were extremely provocative films that demand, at least, it’s final act to be more thoughtful than this. The finale shouldn’t be the one to introduce a whole host of characters who add nothing and take away everything from the resonant themes established before. It should have been a film about reconcillation, re-affirmation of identities and breaking of boundaries inherent to the mutant/human relationship.
But the spoils of destruction prove far too strong. X:Men Apocalypse opts for smashing and obliteration and loses touch with what’s truly significant. As irrelevant as it is, the film has none of the grit, introspection, depth, characterization nor moral quandaries that distinguish it’s predecessors from other superhero films. I’m just going to pretend that the recent X:Men series is just a two-movie thing because I seriously question what the purpose of this one really is.
Rating: 4.5/10 It was kind of entertaining during some sequences, but it left me feeling mostly empty. Mundane,flat and unecessary.