This year – and, for the foreseeable future – we have a handful of superhero movies coming out every year. This year started off with Batman v Superman, Captain America: Civil War, and Deadpool (already out on Blu-Ray and DVD), and now it’s Fox Studio’s turn with X-Men: Apocalypse. This is the third installment in the current X-Men run that started with First Class, yet it is the eighth movie in the long run of X-Men movies (ninth if you count Deadpool).
While a bit slow to start, once Apocalypse gets going it maintains strong momentum till the end. What we know so far is that the main antagonist is Apocalypse, played by Oscar Isaac of recent Star Wars: The Force Awakens fame, a villain who is trying to bring an end to the world as we know it with his four horsemen (mutants Psylocke, Storm, Angel, and Magneto). While this plot is strong enough for any superhero film, the beginning drags as too much time is spent on the reintroduction of old characters and the introduction of new ones. This happens for about the first half of the movie with a mix of the antagonist’s machinations worked into it. As this happens we also get introduced to new, but familiar, characters which is nice but it leaves the viewer wanting more of that and less of the same old characters we’ve been seeing in every film. Unfortunately, there is really no development or individual story arcs for the newly introduced mutants (save one pair), which is rather disappointing. Very little dialogue is given to these characters as well, and they were almost entirely relegated into the background; hopefully we’ll see more of them in a future sequel to this movie.
I enjoyed the story overall, with the pacing improving as the film went on. Oscar Isaac as Apocalypse as well as the way he was introduced into the film was another aspect of the movie I enjoyed. Apocalypse did look intimidating and really well thought-out, despite the initial criticism of his look when an early photo was posted online. Right away his intentions were made clear and the plot of the movie was laid out, yet as stated earlier the build up to the climax was slow. Apocalypse’s new horsemen are a mix of old and new faces from the X-Men film universe, and while interesting to see, this mix of newcomers and old faces are rather left by the wayside. You would think that having a great actress like Olivia Munn playing one of Apocalypse’s horsemen would prompt the filmmakers to give her an interesting arc or at least more screen time, but sadly she is marginalized and just there to stand behind Apocalypse, silent and brooding like a henchman. My only hope for the characters Psylocke and Storm is that the films eventually do right by them and give them both more backstory, since both have great backgrounds in the comics. In this movie Magneto plays the role of a horseman too, and his story and introduction, while nice, is a bit repetitive since it is something we have seen time and time again in both the previous films in this series as well as the older X-Men films.
Psylocke and Storm have previously been absent from this current series, but Magneto has been a major player in every film. And yet, once he assimilates into Apocalypse’s team, he gets marginalized as well. Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique is the protagonist in this movie, yet we rarely see her don the all-blue look she’s known for. It seems that if they have someone like Jennifer Lawrence in the movie they want to have as much face time for her sans blue makeup, which is understandable since she is an actress that attracts moviegoers. But what this also does is disappoint the comic book fans who are interested in seeing Mystique proper (not to mention contradict previous plotlines regarding how important it is for mutants to not hide their true natures).
In terms of cinematography, the movie is very well done, full of action and visually stunning shots. My biggest issue with it visually is that some of the CGI tends to stick out from the rest of the shots on camera. You can clearly tell at times what is CGI and what isn’t, which you usually don’t notice in big-budget films these days. Yet in the end, as usual, I like to step back and look at the bigger picture in terms of story. Not only do we look at the X-Men: Apocalypse individually but we also want to see how it contributes to the broader X-Men universe, and this is a movie that seems to be a bridge from Days of Future Past to the follow-up to this movie, which has yet to be named. Apocalypse is used to introduce new characters for the most part, and leaves viewers with the hope that they develop those characters properly later. It leaves you asking more questions than actually resolving issues during the film, and the plot is also a bit on the lighter side in terms of complexity and layering. Overall an enjoyable movie, but it leaves the viewers wanting more and hands us questions that we can only hope get answered in the next installment in the X-Men film universe.
|X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)|
|Release Date:||May 27th, 2016|