By: Mike Agostinelli
The X-Men franchise is a bit of a mixed bag. Some are great, a few are just alright, and at least two are absolute garbage. Which are the garbage ones, you ask? Well, that’s simple my friends. X-Men: The Last Stand is a joke of a movie, and X-Men Origins: Wolverine is the worst comic book film ever made. So taking all of this into account, expectations for these movies are sort of all over the place. We are in a bit of a good stretch with them at the moment though, coming off of the superb Days Of Future Past and the well-received Deadpool. (Although I wasn’t a huge fan of that one, the vast majority of you were. Zombie Sheeple. Thats you) So how is the newest installment?
X-Men: Apocalypse is an X-Men movie. Now, that might seem like an obvious statement. But when you really think about it a bit longer you will realize that it isn’t. Because while there are several great movies in this franchise, you’d be hard pressed to admit with a straight face that any of them are really great X-Men movies. Most are far too obsessed with Wolverine, or are overly concerned with being as non-comic booky as humanly possible. This can mostly be attributed to the franchise’s “architect” Bryan Singer. He has helmed four of these movies now, as well as produced a majority of them. He has outright stated he isn’t much of a comic book guy, and had barely touched one until he was getting ready to make X-Men 2. Meaning he made the original without ever really taking any time with the source material. So the fact that he has decided to finally embrace these characters in their comic-book accurate forms, or at least close to that, is an achievement in and of itself.
Ridiculous things occur in this movie. And the villain is ridiculous. And I mean that positively. This is the first time a villain in this franchise has no human involvement, or any human backing. He is simply a pissed off mutant who looks like Ivan Ooze from the original Power Rangers movie, and makes long and overly intense speeches about the sad state of humanity, and who has a convoluted ancient Egyptian background. The first ten minutes of the film are a sort of origin story for him ,with shades of The Mummy and Indiana Jones popping through. Its exciting, visually arresting, and something entirely fresh for the franchise. Once he starts recruiting his “four horsemen” to assist in his villainous plans, things get even more fantastical. And scantily-clad.
Psylocke bro. Psylocke. Olivia Munn isnt given much to play with in this role, but boy does she look good in a leotard. Apocalypse also gives makeovers to Storm, Angel, and the over-exposed big bad Magneto himself, making them his (brainwashed?) minions. I question brainwashed because that’s never really made clear. They just kind of follow him around and glare menacingly. But that’s the beauty of it; it’s just dumb comic book fun. There isn’t any real attempt to make things realistic in any way.
The first hour is lots of setup, but it moves at a brisk pace and is thoroughly entertaining. The cast is immensely large after all, and to accommodate them properly lots of skipping around is necessary. This is the first X-Men movie where there isn’t really any main character. There’s about six, with the addition of a few other hangers-on. Gone are the days where Wolverine took over every single one of these movies like Hugh Jackman refused anything otherwise. Granted, he does pop up, but it’s a badass and interesting cameo appearance which sets up his next movie in a cool way. Cyclops is also finally given some time in the sun here. We see his origin and his first steps towards leadership, as well as his budding romance with Jean Grey.
The 80’s set timeline of the film doesen’t get too bogged down in politics like First Class or Days Of Future Past did, which is something I also appreciate. How many politicians arguing in a board room over outdated issues do I need to see? To be fair, there are two scenes of that here, but they are over quickly. The 80’s setting is touched upon in other, more original ways instead, like Cyclops and the gang coming out of a showing of Return of the Jedi. Or the interestingly awful 80’s attire. There is also a sprinkling of 80’s music in there, especially during the showcase Quicksilver rescue sequence.
The score from John Ottman is indeed a marked step up from his work on Days of Future Past. Where that one felt cold and modern, this feels like more of a throwback to the big Summer blockbusters of my youth, with grand themes and epic action beats. Try not to get pumped when the X-Men theme pops up during the opening credits, or at the climax where a scene plays out that leaves you breathlessly anticipating the next installment.
Now in conclusion, I’m gonna give this another 8. My past two reviews before this also ended in an 8. Not sure what this means, or if it compromises my critical integrity, but I can’t help but simply be honest and forthcoming here. I’m selfishly hoping the next movie I do sucks so we can have some variety, but I suppose we shall see.
I give X-Men: Apocalypse an 8 out of 10.
Next Review: TMNT: Out Of The Shadows