X-Men: Apocalypse is the 8th (9th if you count Deadpool) instalment in the X-Men franchise. Directed by Bryan Singer and produced by Fox Studios, the film offers an alternative to the Disney Marvel universe. This difference is both a good and bad thing – facts you are reminded of throughout the film.
One of the positives of the film was that it retained the signature feel, and texture that the franchise is known for (especially with Singer at the helm) which was exhibited in some creative shots and imagery. The main example of this is in the final action sequences which offer some outstanding visuals.
The plot, while a brave attempt, is hard to judge. When looking at its place in the franchise, it is held back by a difficult strategy of half a reboot and half a sequel, something that was pushed hard by its successor X-men: Days of Future Past. This led to some contradictions which distracted from the 144 minutes of film. Considering this movie felt like an origin movie, it might of been best to just start with a fresh reboot altogether for the sake of the franchise. The script itself deviates from the well worn topics of past X-Men films, which are politics, equality, and acceptance in favour of a more supernatural or sci-fi plot.
This change in topic took away some of the depth that the X-Men films are known for, moving towards a more formulaic approach. However, it seemed to have a clear idea of what it wanted to accomplish which was establishing a foundation for its new characters, something which it achieved well.
My biggest concern for the script was how they used Michael Fassbender’s character, Magneto. Previously a shining light in the films, Fassbender was reduced to a side chick, and only seemed to be there for the sake of being there. For such a rich character, nothing was accomplished with him. Ironically, one of the shining lights in the film (from a character perspective) was his in-movie son, Peter Maximoff, AKA Quicksilver, played by Evan Peters. Peters starred in some of the most entertaining and creative scenes, and balanced his performance well between comic relief and required drama, a trademark of the X-Men franchise. A low point was Oscar Isaac, as the titular character Apocalypse – a character with a rich history who was made quite one dimensional. This was in part due to the script but also Isaac’s performance.
The rest of the ensemble cast is filled out by James McAvoy as Professor Xavier, Jennifer Lawrence and Mystique, Rose Byrne as Moira Mac Taggert, and Nicholas Hoult as Hank McCoy/Beast. The film also saw the franchise debut of many young actors who seemed poised to steer the series into the future, such as Tye Sheridan as Scott Summers/Cyclopes, Sophie Turner as Jean Gray, and Kodi Smit-McPhee as Kurt Schilling/Nightcrawler. The performances of all three actors were encouraging, especially Sheridan as Summers, who had a difficult job portraying a young Summers but did the job well.
Overall, this film won’t be the most memorable installment in the X-Men franchise, but it was an interesting addition to the growing legacy of the longest surviving comic book franchise. It was a good first step in a new direction as they enter a growing universe of their own (hopefully Deadpool cameo’s lie in the future).
Rating 6/10 Genre Rating 5/10