After the horrible X3: The Last Stand, Fox was left clueless about what to do with the X-Men franchise. Many ideas were thrown around but ultimately they decided to do a soft reboot. This brought on X-Men: The First Class. Although it had its imperfections, it was seen as a fresh take on an exhausted franchise. Matthew Vaughn stayed on as a writer for Days of Future Past but gave the director’s chair back to Bryan Singer. This movie was handed the almost impossible task of not only erasing the errors of X3 but building this franchise up for the future. For the most part, it succeeded.
So did X-Men: Apocalypse use this momentum to take this franchise in the right direction? Well AJ and I will give our opinions on that.
First off, I know what many of you are thinking. “Ron, you actually read comics, so of course your expectations are high. The casual fan won’t care.”
Well yes, that might be true but I’m going to conduct this review as if I know absolutely nothing about X-Men. Long story short: I just don’t think this was a good movie.
Since I am a casual fan, I know nothing about Apocalypse. Since I am a casual fan, I want to know why Apocalypse looks like Ivan Ooze? Since I am a casual fan, his recruitment of the Four Horsemen didn’t seem persuasive to me. Since I am a casual fan, he didn’t really seem that powerful. Since I am a casual fan, who are the rest of these guys on the X-Men team? Where did they come from? What are their powers?
Basically this movie zipped through the meat and potatoes of the story to get to the end and when we got there, the payoff wasn’t big enough. There was no way to really connect with the characters because well…we didn’t really know them. Apocalypse’s plan…actually what is Apocalypse’s plan? We don’t know!
This two and a half hour running team seems like an hour and a half and I don’t mean that in a good way. I think some Fox exec remembered “Oh shit! We gotta make another X Men movie soon!” and rushed to it. This story seems like one they didn’t want to tell but one they had to tell to get to where they wanted to be. That place is the X-Men of the 90s and back to square one of the franchise.
Since I don’t know anything about the Age of Apocalypse storyline, this movie told me absolutely nothing. A lot happened but at the same time, nothing happened.
Now let me switch and give you the perspective of someone familiar with X-Men. This movie could’ve been so much more. I understand they had to deviate from the source material but this movie doesn’t even honor it. Apocalypse is such a powerful being and that wasn’t explored nearly enough. This story could have had biblical references, examination of evolution, Social Darwinism, etc but essential the entire movie was about Apocalypse wanting to build a big ass pyramid and steal Professor X’s intellectual property.
The mutants were under utilized. Storm had plenty occasions to wreck shop and didn’t. Psylocke is such a great character and is beloved by X-Men faithful but we didn’t get enough of her. I don’t even think Jubilee was acknowledged in this movie which is funny to me.
I think because I know many of these characters’ origins and powers, it makes me feel like the casual fan was robbed of this knowledge. None of it was explained and no one was properly introduced. The best actors in this movie weren’t given a chance to shine. Just in case you don’t know, under all of that purple paint lies a FANTASTIC actor in Oscar Isaac. Instead, we got waaaaaay too much Jennifer Lawrence. Now while I like Jennifer more than others, if she’s going to be the focal point of this franchise going forward please shoot me now.
Digging deeper within the movie itself, there’s only nitpicky things like terrible dialog, transitions, not making great use of the time period/setting, etc.
This was the typical X-Men movie. Cities were leveled, Professor X screamed, Magneto flew over shit with his hands stretched, the end. There were some fun moments but it just didn’t connect with me like it could have. Although I hate this movie with ever fiber of my damn being, I will admit the ending was cool. It paid homage to the classic X-Men of the 90s.
While it gave me hope for the next movie, I’ve been fooled before. I think I’m off this train for good. Unless of course, Matthew Vaughn takes over after completing The Kingsmen movie. He did a good job with First Class and Days of Future Past (He’s also behind Kick-Ass and Layer Cake which I HIGHLY recommend).
In closing, as the young mutants were leaving the movies after watching Return of the Jedi, Jean Grey quipped “the third one is always the worst”. Little did our Phoenix know, she was in the 3rd movie of this rebooted franchise.
Now over to AJ.
2016, this was supposed to be the year of great action/comic book movies. We had Deadpool, Batman v Superman, Civil War, Apocalypse, Suicide Squad, Doctor Strange, Star Trek 3, Rogue One. I mean, on paper, this SHOULD be the greatest comic book movie year of all time, but here we are, 4 films in and we are shooting 50% from the field. Deadpool was perfection. BvS was a clusterfuck. Civil War was “HGFKHHGHFNKGHGFJKGH” and Apocalypse was a disappointment.
Look, this movie wasn’t “BAD” it just wasn’t good. Throughout the entirety of the film, I kept wishing I could change the channel to see what else was on and flip back to this when whatever I found was on a commercial break. This film is so “meh” that it’s hard to add onto what Ron expounded upon above, but since he pays m(nevermind, we did that gag last review). But since I’m tasked with such, I kind of have to. So, let’s talk source material for a second. Yes, I know you casual fans who look at comic book readers as nerds don’t care about such a thing, but here is an instance where not following it led to several bad decisions.
Apocalypse has so much source material, it’s kind of hard to squeeze all of that into one film. So where do you start? Do you roll with the version from the much beloved X-Men cartoon series of the 90s? While that was a great storyline, probably not. That’s one instance where the film product would’ve suffered due to poor translation. So what about Age of Apocalypse: The alternate reality storyline where Apocalypse rules the world and Magneto leads the X-Men in Charles’ stead? BINGO.
Now, due to previous films, you’d obviously have to take liberties with the source material (Rogue being Magneto’s bride and Charles being dead for example) but, that’s as simple as a dejected Magneto, instead of becoming a horseman, finding his purpose after Charles is taken and leading the new X-Men into battle to save him. Michael Fassbender as Magneto has been one of the few bright spots for this reboot and him leading a bunch of school age students into battle would’ve made for great moments on-screen both now and in the future. I mean, picture he and Scott going toe to toe in future films, knowing that Magneto was a psuedo-mentor in the past. Compelling, right?
Which leads me to my biggest beef with this film: the decision to make Mystique the leader of the X-Men. Not only for this film, but going forward. The film ends off with Mystique training the new X-Men in the danger room. WHAT? I get it, Mystique is portrayed by Jennifer Lawrence, a hollywood darling, but Mystique is not the future leader of the X-Men. Even in my version above of Magneto leading them, he winds up back to his old ways after saving Charles. Not to mention, Mystique as J Law portrays her is not very compelling. She’s a self-righteous complainer, kinda reminiscent of every other character J Law portrays.
Anyway, the box office and reviews seem to agree with us on this film and that’s not good for Fox. The entire purpose of this soft reboot was to wipe away the sins of the previous films and we seem to see Fox repeating them. Just as X3 butchered an iconic storyline and shoehorned a bunch of mutants with no back story, Apocalypse did the same thing. Not to mention, even an appearance by Hugh Jackman couldn’t save this film. With him ending his tenure as ol’ Wolverine in next year’s Wolverine 3, Fox has a crisis on its hands. Outside of Fassbender, nobody in this new cast is compelling enough to carry this franchise. The young X-Men are not good. Tye Sheridan as a rebellious Cyclops is laughable, Sophie Turner as a smart mouthed Jean Grey is “meh” and Nightcrawler was a caricature at best. MAYBE Quicksilver can step up but even that is a long shot. Hopefully, Fox starts looking more to X-Force, Cable and Deadpool to anchor the universe and let’s these X-Men breathe for a while.
Either that, or call Kevin Feige…..we can all dream, right?
PS. It still bothers me that a blue nigga went to the movies in a Thriller jacket and nobody was freaked out. Anyway, that concludes this review. Hopefully you recover from superhero movie fatigue before Suicide Squad gets here. Until next time.
PSS. No seriously, go find Layer Cake.