Review: X-Men: Apocalypse

As a long-time fan of the X-Men movies, I had hoped to see Apocalypse before now, but, well, life.

Apocalypse, Psylocke, and Magneto in X-Men: ApocalypseAlso as a long-time fan of the series, I had kind of mixed feelings going into the movie. On the one hand, yay, new X-Men. On the other, Apocalypse honestly didn’t look all that interesting compared to most of the past movies.

I was right to be concerned, but the good news is it’s still a decent movie all told.

In case you’re somehow unfamiliar with the story, X-Men: Apocalypse deals mainly with the titular character, the first and most powerful mutant. Apocalypse is an immortal being who has achieved nearly limitless power by absorbing the abilities of dozens of other mutants over many centuries. Entombed beneath the earth for thousands of years, Apocalypse has now been unleashed, and he plans to destroy human civilization as we know it and rule over what remains as a god.

Apocalypse is one of the main problems with the movie. Despite his vast power, he is ultimately an incredibly dull villain. He has no nuance, no motivation the viewer can sympathize with.

And honestly he’s just not that crucial to the story, strange as that may sound. If you removed Apocalypse from the movie that bears his name, not all that much would change.

Really the story is about Magneto. Again. It’s pretty much a retread of Magneto’s story to date, especially his arc in Days of Future Past. He’s angry at humans and wants to destroy the world, but Charles and the X-Men still believe he can be redeemed.

Jean Grey, Nightcrawler, and Cyclops in X-Men: ApocalypseIt’s a powerful story, and Michael Fassbender is a fantastic actor, so if you’re going to retread a story, you could do a lot worse than this one. I feel very torn because we have seen all this before, but it’s still such a compelling story.

The other big problem with Apocalypse (the movie, not the character) is that it spreads itself incredibly thin. It introduces over half a dozen new mutants, and also reintroduces Moira McTaggert… for some reason. Seriously, Moira spends the entire movie just standing in the background and looking shocked. She does nothing.

Moira is the most egregious example of a character included just for the sake of saying they’re present, but she’s far from the only one. Other than Magneto, none of Apocalypse’s “horsemen” (half of which are actually more horsewomen) get any real development, and a lot of the good-side mutants are about as undercooked.

I think a particular missed opportunity was not delving more into Nightcrawler’s spirituality. His faith is so important to him, and Apocalypse is pretty much the definition of a false idol. You’d think they could have made something out of that. But no, he’s another character who’s just kind of there.

Also, did anyone really want to see a young Cyclops? Does anyone actually like him at all, come to think of it? I think we pretty much all agree he’s the lamest of the X-Men by far.

Quicksilver saves the day in X-Men: ApocalypseOn the other hand, there are some pleasant surprises here. Quicksilver has gone from a character I usually remember exists to possibly one of my favourite mutants. He’s basically just nothing but awesome and ass-kicking through the whole movie.

There are also some surprise cameos by a couple of old favourites that add some real spice to the movie.

While they don’t get as much attention as they should due to the bloated cast, the core X-Men cast members — Xavier, Beast, Mystique — all put on strong performances again. Xavier, in particular, has some truly spectacular scenes this time around. I’ve never seen that character properly angry before. It’s terrifying.

Finally, something else that impressed me about Apocalypse was its special effects and cinematography. Not just the technical quality of the effects, but the creativity and artistry with which they’re used. This is a beautiful movie to look at.

So Apocalypse is one of those weird movies that’s kind of crappy in some ways but also really good in others. It’s all over the map, but on balance, I’d say it’s more good than bad.

It’s definitely not on par with the last couple of X-Men films, though.

Overall rating: 7.4/10

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3 thoughts on “Review: X-Men: Apocalypse

  1. I agree that Michael Fassbender is a great actor and really excelled here too. And I liked the special effects as well, it is a beautiful movie. I’d give it a similar rating. Though I don’t know a lot about X-Men, this is actually one of my favorites of the movies. I enjoyed Jean’s arc here, since she’s a character I didn’t know much about. But I’m a sucker for a good origin story so First Class is still at the top of my X-Men movie list. 🙂

    • First Class was very good. I’d still rate X-2 and Days of Future Past better, but it’s up there.

      Jean’s not one of my favourites, but at least she’s more interesting than Cyclops. Would have liked to have seen some consequences of her unleashing the Phoenix, since usually that’s a big no-no. Maybe they’re saving that for the next movie.

  2. My personal rating for this one is much easier: in contrast to some other superhero movies, this one was amusing. I agree that a part of this movie was very much a “super hero exhibition”, some of the characters could have been skipped without negative effect. But it didn’t bring the movie down, like it did at the Avengers Civil War, where i was mostly bored after a certain point.

    Of course, part of the problem of Avengers movie is that the whole theme is “we did not talk to each other before, and now we are stubborn and don’t really listen”. While the X-mens core theme, as described, is in the history and perception of the characters, so the reason for conflict is more believeable.

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