X-Men Apocalypse (2016) Review: Uncannily Boring
X-Men has never been my favourite superhero franchise. As action movies, they’ve had a few stand out moments here and there, and as superhero movies, there haven’t really been characters to follow besides Wolverine who kind of ran his course. That is of course until they went the prequel route. What is typically the kiss of death for a franchise, ‘X-Men: First Class’ breathed new life into the X-Men. Watching Professor X and Magneto become life long frenemies was interesting and there was a bona fide anti-heroine story worth a damn in Mystique. That in mind, I went into ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ optimistic, despite not expecting anything fantastic.
So was it fantastic? Well not really. In fact, ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ is kind of boring. Set ten years after the events of ‘Days of Future Past’, the movie gives us a world in which mutants are now known to the public, Xavier’s school is fully up and running, and Magneto is on the run from the law after dropping a football stadium outside the white house. That’ll ruffle some feathers. As the status quo is set, the film also introduces the world’s first, all powerful mutant, Apocalypse. After being asleep for 3,000 years, he wakes up to a world where mutants are oppressed and vows to destroy it to craft a new one in his image. To say he’s got a God complex is a slight understatement.
There are a few other sub plots in the movie and that’s a definite mark against it. The film spends so much of its first act catching you up with new characters, old characters, and the main conflict, that it never really ends. As a result you’re just kind of trudging along as the movie just explains things to you. There are a lot of ideas in ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ and they all feel like they’re worth exploring, but there’s simply not enough movie to go around.
The main attraction of the film is the titular villain. I actually liked a lot of what he was about. At least the idea of him. He basically goes to sleep a ruler of the world and wakes up to find out that super powered mutants are somehow oppressed by normal humans. It’s pretty funny when you think about it, and I wished he would’ve been played more to that effect. Making fun of the world from an outsider’s perspective. Instead he’s really not compelling. His slow raspy voice followed by his bellowing auto tuned voice stops being intimidating after his first scene.
The other characters get a fair amount of backstory to go through this time around, but unlike the First Class or Days of Future Past, it doesn’t really feel fleshed out. Mystique has a reluctant hero thing going on after stopping Magneto in the last movie, but when it comes time for her to complete her arc, so much has gone on in the movie that you kind of forgot it was happening. I also sort of didn’t care anymore. That’s how I felt about 90% of the character work in this movie.
The action is pretty good. Well is it? I guess it is. It’s just nothing I’ve never seen before. With a world with powers as fun and diverse as the X-Men, that’s really disappointing. The trouble is the new introductions are the originals we’ve seen before (Storm, Jean Grey, Cyclops, etc.). You can only see a guy shoot lasers out his eyes so many times before it starts to be a yawn. The best scene is probably the Quicksilver sequence, but again, it’s just a repeat of what we saw in ‘Days of Future Past.’ But hey, as the saying goes.
As far as that new cast goes, they’re all right I suppose. They don’t really get enough time to do much. The best of the bunch is probably Nightcrawler who’s limited screen time is injected with enough character for you to get what he’s about. Kodi Smit-Mcphee does a good job as the doe eyed, yet tortured, devil looking creature who just wants to help the people who hate him.
The most interesting part of the X-Men movies to me has always been the world itself and the little bits you get in this are intriguing concepts, but concepts are all they are. The world has entered a period of mutant tolerance at the start of the film, but you’re also shown its seedy underbelly. It’s not all kumbaya when mutants are forced into cage matches. There’s an allusion to a message about covert prejudice being just as bad if not worse than overt prejudice, but it’s dropped pretty much as soon as it’s picked up.
I don’t really know what else to say. It’s not a bad movie. It’s not a good one either. The ideas it brings up are compelling but the overall execution of the story is really dull. It’s plagued by exposition and the dialogue is really clunky at times. The old cast is as good as they ever were, except in the case of Jennifer Lawrence who seems kind of bored. I can’t really blame her. The movie is two and a half hours long, and the length is felt. It just doesn’t have the pacing it needs, especially for the apocalyptic stakes it’s trying to sell. It’s not bad enough to hate though, and you probably wouldn’t be mad if you were to Catch It On Cable.
Rating: Catch It On Cable