The X-Men franchise is 16 years, and 9 films deep in its mythos and lore. With great achievements like X2 and X-Men: Days Of Future Past and embarrassing flops like X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Bryan Singer and the folks over at FOX have created a confusing, compelling and enjoyable series that still has a lot of life left. But like any 16-year-old, there are those awkward moments. After The Last Stand and Origins sullied the franchise, X-Men: First Class acted as a soft reboot of the series. Leaving Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen behind, the studio enlisted James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, and Jennifer Lawrence as it’s anchors. X-Men: Days Of Future Past brought both casts together and successfully reset the timeline. Apocalypse is in a weird middle area where it continues to establish our now veteran heroes, while introducing us to new ones.
Let’s start with the old. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender have always been excellent choices for Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr (Magneto). They both deliver respectable performances in Apocalypse. Fassbender goes above and beyond in the film’s first act. The life he has created with his new identity, wife and daughter is worthy of its own film. Seeing what Erik has been doing since the events of DOFP, is more interesting than anything he does after he joins Apocalypse. Magneto’s constant back and forth in ideology is interesting from a social perspective. Unfortunately, after so many movies, that idea is getting a little tired. Having him under an even greater villain is an interesting twist, but also doesn’t fit well with his character for me. James McAvoy finally loses his hair, but there is little else in terms of character development for Professor X throughout the film. His ideology is rigid and never falters, which is fundamental to the character in the comics, but less interesting in the movies. Jennifer Lawerance is the clearly uninterested in the role and delivers a very average performance as Mystique.
The best part of the movie is the new cast. Tye Sheridan and Sophia Turner did great as young Cyclop and Jean Grey respectively. They have great chemistry and their dynamic with Nightcrawler, Jubilee and Quicksilver have me excited for the future. Quicksilver has another scene-stealing moment that isn’t as surprising as the first one, but still entertaining.
This movie suffers from a villain with little motivation or reasoning for anything he does. Oscar Issac does as well as he can with all that make up, but his performance is uninspiring. The most interesting thing about Apocalypse is his idea of “false gods”, but it’s never explored. These qualities bleed into his Four Horsemen. Their kind of boring and don’t have much to do. Angel is apparently an alcoholic until Apocalypse gives him metal wings. Olivia Munn has nothing fun or interesting to say or do the entire movie. Even Magneto becomes less interesting after joining the crew. The most developed member is Storm. It’s set up very early on that she is looking for mentorship and it makes sense for her to follow the wrong leader. She eventually joins the X-Men is the finale.
Again, this movie is fine. It ranks right in the middle of the X-Men films. The new cast is promising, but FOX is still committed to its old guard. Contracts are up though and the Big 3 might be moving on. Maybe this will force the studio to focus on the plethora of other mutants and less on their established money-makers. Hopefully, the next movie can have a smaller scope and focus on the awesome new characters introduced here.
Also, the Wolverine cameo was cool, but completely forced and felt like a different movie.