X-Men Apocalypse is the sequel to 2014’s excellent Days of Future Past; it is also the 4th superhero film that we are getting this year. And for me, it’s the worst of those 4, some may find it surprising that I put this below Batman v Superman, but at least that was a film that was ambitious in its storytelling, whereas Apocalypse is just a fairly average film, with some obvious faults.
But first to the good. And they have expanded the wonderful cast that’s in place. Joining the likes of James McAvoy (Xavier), Michael Fassbender (Magneto), Evan Peters (Quicksilver), and the rest are Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Alexandra Shipp, and Olivia Munn. Turner for me is the best of the new cast, but Sheridon does give us the best Scott Summers to have appeared in an Xmen film. Noticeably less assured than the original incarnation of the character, he also gave us hints of his charm that were just completely missing from that first attempt.
And whilst the rest of the cast do a sterling job with what they are given the problem comes in that they are not given much. Shipp’s Storm and Munn’s Psylock, whilst both looking cool just don’t have much character, I don’t think that’s the fault of the actors, but more to do with the writing. What we have seen in previous X-Men films is complex villains, ones who you completely understand their point of view, Magneto especially. Apocalypse however is just the most generic villain they have produced, and gave the wonderful Oscar Isaac no chance to show off his acting chops. Instead they chose to focus on the same internal struggle that we have seen with Magneto umpteen times before.
There’s a similar problem with Nightcrawler, quite possibly my favourite X-Man by the way. I think Kodi Smit-McPhee does a good job taking over from Alan Cumming, but outside of a quick 5-10 seconds early on he gets nothing to really do. The best Nightcrawler scene is still that opening sequence from X2, and that was over 10 years ago. This highlights the other major problem with the film that the action is dull. There was a potentially awesome showdown at the end, but it just ends up in a big CGI mess for me. Even more criminally there is a Wolverine sequence (I wish that was a spoiler, but sadly the trailers already spoiled that for us), and even that was below the standard of the previous films.
It’s a shame because in his previous X-Men films Singer has delivered 2 of the 3 best (X2 and Days of Future Past), and the incredibly strong platform that the franchise was based on with the first movie. And the film revels in calling back to these, to the extent that they reuse lines of dialogue, not to mention clips from the previous films. And these moments from previous films are some of the most emotional moments of the film, but just left me wishing I was watching X2 or First Class.
This is by no means a stinker of film, it’s much better than The Last Stand or the Wolverine Origins film, but this isn’t one that’s going to stay long in the memory. It’s main problem, it just feels so unoriginal, generic and in no way ambitious, and that just leads to it being rather dull to anyone who has seen an X-Men film before.