Friday, May 27, 2016

'X-Men: Apocalypse' is a Good, But Not Great Film

X-Men: Apocalypse
(20th Century Fox)

 MOVIE REVIEW 

It’s rare that a movie will invite the press to view the film weeks before its release date unless the studio is very confident in their product. That might have been a mistake for X-Men: Apocalypse which won’t enter theaters until May 27. In short, the film isn’t terrible.  It’s not a bad film, but it’s a lot less than what you would expect from director Bryan Singer who created the “good” X-Men movies, the original X-Men (2000), X-Men 2 (2002) and then 2014’s X-Men: Days of Future Past. However, it does seem to follow the trend of the franchise. The first X-Men movie was the best, the second was good and the third (X-Men: The Last Stand) was terrible. With the more recent trio, X-Men: First Class was great, Future Past was good and this one is just okay.

X-Men: Days of Future Past took place during the 1970’s. Apocalypse jumps ahead to 1983. The very beginning of the film shows the story of some of the earliest mutants on earth and how they were often mistaken for gods. One in particular, En Sabah Nur, who goes by the name of Apocalypse (Oscar Issac), views himself as THE God. The film does a spectacular job of presenting the story on a how he and his four faithful followers are captured. I say spectacular, as the visuals are nothing but, but it also feel very silly at the same time. All die except for Apocalypse who is spared, but trapped.

Jumping to 1983, in a small chain of events that seem way too simple, Apocalypse is awakened and is released to wreak havoc on the world. He is unimpressed with what the world has become she he took his long nap and thinking that he is the one true God, he decides that he is going to destroy the world, but first, he needs to find four new followers.
 

X-Men: Apocalypse certainly has it’s enjoyable scenes including the ones with Professor X (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender), but the series seems to have run out of stories about this two. Magneto tries to live among the humans, but it doesn’t suit him. The storyline of Magneto struggling with the notion that humans won’t accept mutants and Professor X trying to dissuade him has pretty much run its course.
 

Scott Summer’s Cyclops (Tye Sheridan) is introduced with a short and interesting backstory which showed some promise, but his story just sort of stops. We also meet Ororo Munroe’s Storm (Alexandra Shipp) for the first time, but it is lackluster. Then there is Jennifer Lawrence who looks absolutely bored with her Raven/Mystique character. She barely has the energy to turn blue let alone decide if she wants to be good or bad.
 

In addition, X-Men: Apocalypse really lacks any tension that was so well captured in the earlier films. This which might have to do with the fact that there really isn’t any new surprises to be found here and the audience can pretty much predict how it’s all going to go down. Well, there is one “surprise” in the film, but nobody in the press screening that I attended seemed surprised nor impressed with the gimmick. Even the traditional cameo featuring X-Men creator Stan Lee is a bit of a letdown.
 

On the plus side, Apocalypse does have its moments. After the ridiculous Egypt scene, there is a much better story that features what Magneto has been doing for the past ten years and the recent event that changes his life forever. It’s a heart-breaking scene, but again, not much of a surprise.

Other highlights include Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) who is fun every time he is on the screen and Quicksilver (Evan Peters) gets a fantastic encore to his big “Time In A Bottle” scene from Days of Future Past. This time, the scene is set to the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams.” Ally Sheedy is also seen playing a small role. It’s not much, but it’s nice to see her again even if only briefly.
 

Unfortunately, X-Men: Apocalypse lacks two main ingredients: solid storytelling and character development. Yes, the film features tons of characters, but the much better Marvel movie, Captain America: Civil War, does too and manages to create an action film that is also funny, has heart and even makes you think. For this film, we are left with are some spectacular special effects of world destruction and a lot of fight scenes, but not much else. This might be all that many audience members want for a summer time flick, but if you are wanting much more than that, you’ll be disappointed. I’d save this film for DVD rental later on.

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