X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)
Running Time: 144 minutes
Directed by: Bryan Singer
Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Oscar Isaac, Rose Byrne
X-Men: Apocalypse picks up 10 years after the events of Days of Future Past, opening the movie in 1983 where Xavier (McAvoy) and Hank McCoy (Hoult) are still running the Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. Meanwhile, Apocalypse (Isaac) known as the first and most powerful mutant is awakened after thousands of years. Feeling disillusioned with the current condition of the world, Apocalypse recruits a team of four powerful mutants known as the Four Horsemen to help cleanse mankind and create a new world order. Magneto (Fassbender) who is recently disheartened from the behaviour of mankind is amongst the mutants recruited by Apocalypse. As the end of the world is near, Raven (Lawrence) joins forces with Xavier to lead a team of young X-Men to stop Apocalypse and save mankind.
There are a few good things about this instalment in the new X-Men series – Magneto’s character development, the introduction of the young Jean Gray (Turner), Cyclops (Sheridan) and Storm (Shipp), Wolverine’s brief appearance, Quicksilver’s (Peters) comedic relief moments, and Olivia Munn’s Psylocke. This third instalment is not as big of a trainwreck as X-Men: The Last Stand, where in this case, there is at least more time spent on the main characters, introducing them and developing them slightly, in order for the audiences to connect with them. However, I’ve to admit the storyline of this film, though not terrible, left me feeling neither impressed nor disappointed. The film began and ended without much climax nor a buildup towards one, hence causing the story to feel somewhat flat. The villain, Apocalypse portrayed by the talented Oscar Isaac isn’t the worst super villain we’ve seen in a comic book movie, but with his non-stop yammering and over-edited voice, he became a villain that’s hard to believe or to be fearful of and to be taken seriously. Furthermore, there are quite a bit of flashbacks to X-Men: First Class to highlight the bond between Magneto and Xavier which didn’t exactly heightened the emotions of the scene, instead they made me feel as if the writer, director and studio are trying to wrap up the film in such a way that it would be okay if this instalment doesn’t do well in the box office and they could just leave it as a trilogy. However, there are a few things about the storyline I genuinely liked, which included Magneto’s character development (as mentioned earlier), Quicksilver’s humorous and somewhat epic entrance, Nightcrawler (Smit-McPhee) as a character and a few of the comedic lines (especially the one delivered by Turner about how the third film always ends up being the worst in a trilogy).
Moreover, the CGI in the film was nothing too impressive with certain moments appearing rather unconvincing. You would have thought that by now this wouldn’t be much of a problem for a superhero film of this caliber, yet it did. In addition, one thing that really bothered me was the cinematography of the action sequences, especially the ones which involved Psylocke. I’m fine with the non-slow motion of action scenes but at least pick the right angle to best convey what seem like a beautiful piece of choreography of action scenes, which we now aren’t able to fully appreciate.
The cast itself is nothing short of impressive and full of talent, and this is truly something the X-Men films did well. The performances were all on point even with a storyline that seem to lack conviction. One of the talents they had wasted was Munn’s Psylocke, it felt like she could have been incorporated more into the story development, however we only received glimpses of Munn and a brief kickass moment that was wasted thanks to the cinematography of the scene. As for the costumes in the film, I loved what the costume department did with the characters’ normal, day-to-day 80’s costumes and their flight suits, as well as the Four Horsemen’s suits. It brought out the individuality of each character really well, and I’m especially in love with Nightcrawler’s getup. The only downside in this aspect of the film, for me, is Apocalypse’s costume and makeup which reminded me of The Fifth Element’s Diva Plavalaguna mixed with Power Rangers’ Ivan Ooze and Guardians of the Galaxy’s Ronan the Accuser. Again, it just made the villain less fearful and a little hard to take seriously.
In terms of the film’s score, John Ottman’s score still isn’t able to induce a similar mood/impact the way Henry Jackman’s score did with First Class. I wished he could have incorporated some of the solo scores Jackman has created for some of the main characters into the scores of both this film and Days of Future Past. It would’ve been a great cinematic moment to bring some of the flavor back since those scores played quite a vital part of introducing these characters to the audience back in First Class. With that said, the music picked for some of the scenes such as Beethoven’s Symphony No.7 and Eurythmics’ Sweet Dreams actually made the respective scenes more memorable than others, showing the importance of music on film.
Overall, I would rank X-Men Apocalypse somewhere in the middle among the other X-Men films with The Last Stand and X2 behind it. All in all, it’s an alright summer blockbuster, with its expected superhero moments and the not-too-impressive CGI scenes sprinkled with a bit of humor to lift the darker aspects of the story and an overall impressive cast. P.S. Remember to stay behind for the post-credit scene for a hint of who the villain might be in the next instalment.
Rating: 6 out of 10