There’s a line in X-Men Apocalypse which stands out to me more than any other. Some of the teenage characters are exiting a movie theater after watching the third Star Wars movie and one of them says something along the lines of “the third film in a series is always the worst.” This could have been a reference to the third original X-men movie, X-Men Last Stand, which was maligned by critics and viewers alike. Alas, by telling that joke they might have jinxed themselves as X-Men: Apocalypse is the worst entry in the newest X-Men trilogy.
X-Men: Apocalypse is the third instalment in the newest X-Men film series and stars James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, and Sophie Turner. Ten years have passed since the existence of mutants was revealed to the world and there is relative social peace between mutants and nonmutants. Professor Charles Xavier (McAvoy) now peacefully runs his famed school for gifted youngsters, attended by Jean Grey (Turner) a telepath with immense untapped potential, Scott Summers (Tye Sheridan) and his brother Alex (Lucas Till) who both possess dangerous laser abilities. All is good until Charles encounters his former love CIA agent Moira Mactaggert (Rose Byrne) and learns that the ancient and extremely powerful mutant, Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) has risen and has enlisted the help of several powerful mutants including friend turned foe Magneto (Fassbender) in destroying humanity. Charles must team up with his former friend Mystique (Lawrence) and his young students to stop Apocalypse and his followers before they annihilate civilization.
X-Men: Apocalypse feels like someone attacked it with a hacksaw, cutting away most of the emotion and character and leaving us with a skeleton without any marrow. Missing are the seemingly important emotional interactions of Charles and Mystique, Charles and Magneto, Charles and his long lost lover Moira, Charles and his students, Scott Summers and his brother, Jean Gray and Scott, Scott with anyone, Jean Gray with anyone, and anyone with anyone. These character interactions, ones that have either been built up to over multiple movies, or have been signaled to as important by the movie itself, are mostly glanced over or played off as non important.
For example, when Charles and Mystique, two characters who grew up as siblings and have gone through betrayal and heartbreak together, finally encounter each other after about ten years they act as though the other is a cousin who’s only been away for two months. Logically this film should be about Charles, Mystique, and Magneto, their final clash of ideals, the pain of them once being a family, and their reconciliation in the face of destruction. But the three main characters, both of the movie and of the series as a whole, pretty much do nothing for the entire picture and we instead focus on a bunch of new characters who overall are still hardly focused on by the movie.
In addition, this film is more concerned with creating sequences than creating a compelling story, chopping the plot up into sections meant to excite the audience. However, only one of these sequences was particularly enthralling and the rest span from weird and confusing to meandering and anticlimactic. The film’s sorry state may be attributed to the editor because it feels like large portions of the plot have been excised leaving us with only ⅔ of a movie. Things like Jean Grey being scarily powerful, Scott having a close relationship with his brother, and Mystique and Moira having an active role in the film are not present, but the film acts like they are. I am very curious about how many scenes were cut from the film and I expect it would be upwards of thirty minutes. Perhaps X-Men: Apocalypse was a great movie and all the emotion and plot was cut out making it a lopsided jumble. Regardless of this possibility, in it’s current state I believe that I could have written a better movie in comparison.
Despite the fact that X-Men: Apocalypse is just a shabby, half baked plot that thinks it’s a real story, there are aspects that I enjoyed about the film. The acting was good all around and I was actually impressed by Sophie Turner’s Jean Grey. She has proven to me that she can do more than Game of Thrones and I hope that she gets more roles in the future. Her acting abilities were especially impressive considering that she and the other billion or so characters had to share screen time so she hardly had any time to make an impression. And although I criticize the picture for being more concerned with making cool sequences than making a good movie, one of the sequences was rather cool, and I did have fun watching the film. However, the movie still lacks good characters, emotion, action, and most of the components of a great movie. If you just want to waste time and have an entertaining night out then this movie would be good for you, just don’t expect any lasting impression. I will give X-Men: Apocalypse a C.
By Sam Finbury