X-Men Apocalypse: Review (WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS)

When Fox launched the X-Men franchise back in 2000, Bryan Singer’s belief was that superhero films needed to be ‘grounded’ – as realistic as possible, firmly embedded in the real world, and with the campier elements of comic books dropped.  The first film even lampshaded that with a joke about spandex costumes.

In 2008, the game changed.  The MCU proved that traditional superhero capers can work just as well on the big screen as dark, serious flicks.  Finally, with X-Men: Apocalypse, Fox have embraced the new mainstream.

Sophie Turner's Jean

As a lifelong X-Men fan, I can honestly say that this is the first of Fox’s X-Men movies to have really captured the style and tone of the comics I grew up on.  The plot switches from place to place with dizzying speed, and takes the time to show characters relaxing in order to let us get to know them.  It meanders a little – just as the Chris Claremont era’s plots tended to – before coming to a climax.  All in all, it’s a fun superhero adventure with high stakes.

Unfortunately, the film also proves that comics sometimes need to be adapted.  The whole diversion to Alkali Lake is unnecessary, and Hugh Jackman’s Weapon X just doesn’t quite work.  There’s something almost tame about Jackman’s performance, as though he’s having fun but just isn’t taking it all that seriously.  Meanwhile, where Claremont was well-known for carefully placing every character and concept, this film tends to bring cool elements up – such as the Blackbird – and then forget all about them.  Never more so than poor Lana Condor’s Jubilee, who’s basically a nonentity.

Lana Condor's Jubilee

Jubilee isn’t the only one who suffers.  Aside from Magneto, whose character-journey is quite complex and intriguing, the rest of the Horsemen are pretty one-dimensional.  Sure, visually they’re awesome, not least Olivia Munn’s tremendous Psylocke, but their characters have no depth.  I know more about their motivations from throwaway comments in interviews than I do from the film.

The plot is fascinating.  Some elements are clearly so carefully thought-out; the film’s title becomes a functional one, with Jean Grey’s powers manifesting and a subtle hint that En Sabah Nur is not the one Jean’s visions were warning her about.  Rather, she was glimpsing her own future.  An ‘apocalypse’ is a revelation, an unveiling of something that was hidden, and that’s exactly what happens in this film.  Jean is the one whose power was hidden, and the movies have no choice but to travel down the Dark Phoenix road.  That said, I’m left feeling as though this is going to be a version I enjoy.

Sophie Turner Dark Phoenix

All in all, X-Men: Apocalypse is far from perfect.  It is, however, the most enjoyable X-Men movie to date.  I’m glad I saw it.

X-Men: Apocalypse score – 8/10

7 Comments Add yours

  1. robeyoung91 says:

    Good review – totally agree about Alkali Lake, which was unnecessary. You share some ideas with my review: check it out if you want:

    https://watchingthingsblog.com/2016/05/18/x-men-apocalypse-the-end-is-high/

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  2. Good review. Short and to the point. I’m sure that I will ramble a lot more once I see the movie and do my own review. 🙂

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    1. TABacon says:

      I’ll love to read it! 😀

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  3. Good review, I firmly agree with most of it, except the Alkali Lake scene and the Blackbird. Specially because, as every element in a good movie, they do have their purpose! The Alkali Lake scene serves to change the fact that those young students were untested, they were just kids with powers and two of them had just arrived at the school. They needed something to show they could handled themselves in a battle, otherwise the climax would be four adults dragging these kids to war for no good reason! One could argue that this might’ve been done differently, personally I would’ve made a battle in the mall, with Stryker’s Sentinels trying to kill them and, after defeating the Sentinel they’d go back to school and find that they needed to join forces to defeat Apocalypse. That’d be a good way to make the movie flow better, but the purpose would be the same, so we can’t say the Alkali Lake scene is unnecessary. Similarly, the Blackbird is needed both so there’ll be something that could explode the mansion, and so the change in Xavier’s point of view would make sense. Though he thinks the best way to go is teaching his students to be just normal people, everyone around him (specially Beast who is building the jet) have realised that the X-Men are needed, something he only realises at the end, after a worldwide event. Those are necessary elements to the real main plot, which is Xavier changing the way he views the world around him and alowing the X-Men to be. Hence he also realises that he can’t and shouldn’t control everything – as the villain wanted to use his power to – and he does that by letting go of Moira’s repressed memories and by telling Jean to release her power and be herself, something that didn’t happen in the original trilogy and that made Jean become the Dark Phoenix, in X3. The main mission of this movie is giving Xavier a good reason to create a paramilitary mutant team, which doesn’t happen so smoothly in the comics. There was a lot of improvement that could’ve been made to the story, but most of the elements that people think was unnecessary are actually there for a reason.

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    1. TABacon says:

      Thanks, glad you enjoyed the review! The problem is, the kids don’t demonstrate anything at Alkali Lake. They free Wolverine, and he tears the place apart for them. So it kind of undermines the idea of this being their “trial by fire” imo I’m afraid 🙂

      That said, I’m still very positive about the movie! 🙂

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      1. Well, they single handedly infiltrate Stryker’s base and rescue the adults. Wheather they do this by using Wolverine to clear the path or not is not the case, specially because the scene is supposed to give the adults a reason to believe they can survive the battle, not make the newbies become badasses all of a sudden.
        I get why people don’t see that, because Alkali Lake IS a diversion from the main plot, and that should’ve been better solved by the writers. But the reason for the scene to happen remains central to the development of the story so, though I agree it should’ve been done better, I still think it can’t be labeled as unnecessary.

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