The X-MEN film franchise burst onto cinema screens 16 years ago in 2000, this film as well as 1998’s BLADE and 2002’s SPIDER-MAN helped breath life into big budget comic book films. Throughout the 1990’s comic books films were not taken seriously with many studios, which resulted in the failures such as BATMAN AND ROBIN and SPAWN which had left comic book fans with a sour taste in their mouths. The resurgence got audiences interested again, and not only have they managed to win fans of the comic books, but have also won favour with casual film goers as well. It is a testament to X-MEN that this film series has been going strong for so long, with two WOLVERINE spin-off films and X-MEN: FIRST CLASS taking us back to the 1960’s. DAYS OF FUTURE PAST attempted to blend the prequel universe and the current universe, fix up the plot holes and basically reset things. This brings us to X-MEN: APOCALPYSE, set in the early 1980’s which sees our band of mutants facing a threat bigger than any they have ever faced before.
Considered to be the first mutant, En Sabah Nur aka Apocalypse has been awakened after centuries of being locked in a tomb seeking four followers – Magneto (Michael Fassbender), Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Psylocke (Olivia Munn) and Angel (Ben Hardy) to help him cleanse the world and start a new. Meanwhile Professor Xavier (James McAvoy) is successfully running his school for gifted youngsters with Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult) by his side, whilst Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) is out keeping a low profile and rescuing mutants in trouble. Can the team manage to come together to take down Apocalypse and his “four horsemen”?
Do not let that brief synopsis fool you, there is a lot going on in this film and quite honestly it didn’t need an abundance of plot threads. It aims to try and develop characters and once again outside of Magneto, it really does not accomplish much. We get re-introduced to the likes of Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) and Scott Sommers (Tye Sheridan), as well as Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) who all form a bond. These characters are kind of just there and the film just assumes we know them, when in fact we knew their adult incarnations, but those versions existed in a now deleted timeline thanks to the previous film. We get next to nothing on Psylocke, Storm or Angel, and really nothing much on the main villain either, a little more would have gone a long way instead of useless plot points.
The script puts it focus on places it doesn’t need them, we’ve had so much development with Magento did we really need more? It gives him a family and a reason to yet again turn “heel”, haven’t we done this already? It practically borrows from WOLVERINE: ORIGINS, and the focus should not be on him by this point. Neither should we be focused on Msytique, we know her character inside and out by now. Why was the focus not more on Apocalypse, the new characters and the younger versions of characters we already know? This does not make any sense to me, the decisions made with the script are baffling and why more thoughtful rewrite wasn’t done is just ridiculous. There didn’t seem to be much of a flow to the film, it was scenes just inserted here and there in the hopes it would some how make sense.
On the plus side at least the action delivers the goods, some odd looking CGI aside, when the action kicks init is entertaining and watchable. It is refreshing to see some characters wearing costumes more in line with their comic counter parts, however they do look out of place because they’ve stuck with generic suits for all these films. Each of the characters at least gets a moment to shine and show off what they can do, even Jean Grey who has a very ‘dark’ moment in the film. Once again Peter Maximoff (Even Peters) steals every scene he is in, and it is a crime he did not show up sooner. They have a great character here, and again the development and attention was in the wrong place. The performances were mostly decent, with McAvoy and Fassbender again being the stand outs. Jennifer Lawrence just looked bored as Mystique, and didn’t really add much. Sophie Turner did pretty well, she felt like a natural in the role and was perfect the best fit out of anyone else. Oscar Isaac who is an incredible actor just had nothing to work with here, and honestly anyone could have played the role.
X-MEN: APOCALYPSE just does not entirely work, and it is time this franchise was just let go. Either reboot it or give up those rights Fox, it feels stale and tiresome after 16 years and just isn’t working. DAYS OF FUTURE PAST was a nice effort but does not hold up after a re-watch and this film surely will suffer the same fate. It is a shame because X-MEN is a great property with some fantastic characters, McAvoy and Fassbender are perfectly cast and have made these films interesting at least. Even in this film, there was a need to add in fan service with a cameo (revealed in the trailer) and it was utterly pointless to do so. Unless the series gets a major over haul, this reviewer is out.