“I saw the end of the world”
Many of the reviews I have read about ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ have mentioned the scene where some of the young X-Men comment on the third movie in a trilogy always being the worst (after watching ‘Return of the Jedi’ at the cinema). Was that Bryan Singer’s apology for the film he was making, a swipe at X-Men: The Last Stand, or a self-fulfilling prophecy (or all three?). ‘Apocalypse’ is without a doubt Singer’s worst X-Men movie yet, and sits comfortably along ‘The Last Stand’ and ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’ in the lower echelons of quality in the X-Men movie franchise…
The premise is simple: the first mutant, Apocalypse, has woken up after thousands of years asleep (after a pyramid caves in on him…but that doesn’t explain his long slumber, does it?). What does he want? Well, it’s in his name…he wants to destroy the world and start anew. He wants to implement ‘survival of the fittest’ on a global scale. For what reason, you may ask? Well…it’s never made clear, actually! In a movie tripping over itself with introducing characters, Apocalypse’s motivations are glossed over. There’s the typical supervillain motto of making the world a better place, but there’s not much more than generic supervillain overtones to Apocalypse. Not only that, but his mutant powers are never fully explained. Presumably he can manipulate molecules, but he uses that power infrequently. Surely he could defeat any X-Man or Woman by using that power?
“The weak have taken the earth”
Sometimes a poor villain only undermines a film slightly (see most MCU films, for example!). But the entire plot hinges on Apocalypse’s plan of, well, apocalypse. There’s not much more to the film than his desire to destroy the earth. So why do we not learn more about Apocalypse? Why are his superpowers vague, to say the least? Towards the beginning, he does have some effective scenes. His first sight of a television, for example, shows that he is disgusted with this new earth he has woken up on (even though it is spoiled by his slow rasp of ‘LEARRRRNINGGGG’). However, as he gathers up his Four Horsemen (three out of four of whom are one-dimensional, and one has about two lines) and tries to destroy earth, he becomes duller and duller.
Apocalypse is a microcosm of what is wrong with the entire film. Events are simultaneously rushed and dragged out. New characters are introduced at an incredible rate, and many are only given a hint of a personality outline (and, by proxy, mutant ability). For example, what can Psylocke do? She must be important, as Apocalypse chooses her to be an Horse(wo)man. But she’s given two lines and has a purple sword, presumably a psychic one. Can she read minds? Who’s that girl in the yellow jacket who tags along with Jean Grey, Scott Summers and Nightcrawler for a bit (yes, I know she is Jubilee, but she is never named in the film!)? You shouldn’t need to refer to comics or Wikipedia to find out about a character in a film.
“Everything they’ve built will fall”
There are so many characters, new and old, that it’s hard to care about any of them. There’s an old character that’s shoehorned in there for the sake of the larger franchise. It’s terribly jarring (although makes the best action scene in the whole movie!). Magneto’s one of the few characters that is given an arc of any sort, but it’s one that we’ve seen before. Quicksilver is given a similar scene to what we saw of him in ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past.’ It’s undeniably entertaining (and set to a great 80s tune), but it’s no more than a big budget repeat of what we have seen before. Many of the characters are there for the sake of the plot, but don’t add anything to it. There are plenty of instances (like the anti-climactic battle, for example) where the majority of good guys are literally standing about while fighting is going on outside. They could have cut the number of characters down by half and not a lot would change with the plot.
There’s not much of a plot to speak of. It’s pretty much Apocalypse’s plan, with the X-Men trying to stop it. New and old characters’ debuts interrupt the flow of things every ten minutes or so. The final quarter of the film descends into yet another poorly edited CGI destruction-fest, with millions of people being killed without a second thought and skyscrapers collapsing. It’s unimaginative and painfully dull. It’s a huge anti-climax, and not even the fights break up the monotony. I found myself waiting for Apocalypse to be defeated (and secretly hoping that the X-Men would lose…but we saw them all happy at the end of ‘Days of Future Past,’ so nothing bad can happen, can it?).
‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ is simply a generic disaster movie with a comic book veil. There are too many characters, many of which don’t contribute anything to the plot or are given anything to do. The title villain is dull and uninspired. There’s not much of a plot, and nothing at all to justify the two and a half hour running time. It descends into the same orgasmic CGI destruction that we’ve seen plenty of times before. Singer has created what he feared most: the worst film of the trilogy. I’d say it’s a step above ‘The Last Stand,’ but only just.
VERDICT: 4/10. A waste of the potential of the X-Men franchise, and a waste of plenty of characters. ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ has moments of quality, but they are few and far between (and copies of what we have seen before). It seems like the third film in the trilogy is often the worst…
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