“X-Men: Apocalypse” isn’t the End As We Know It (Movie Review)

X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)
20th Century FOX

Directed by: Bryan Singer
Written by: Simon Kinberg, Bryan Singer, Michael Dougherty, Dan Harris
Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrance, Nicholas Hoult, Oscar Isaac, Rose Byrne

The Good:

Right off the bat, the 3D effects and visuals immediately stand out as a bright spot for this movie. The story was also nice and fitting with the previous X-Men movies, First Class and Days of Future Past. All of the past story lines connect and make sense, which makes all three films feel like one big continuous film. If you watched the previous movies, you’ll pick up on many of the references that are dropped throughout.

It’s very easy to say that Michael Fassbender provided some of the best acting in this film. You could connect and feel every ounce of his emotions through his performance. Surprisingly, there were some rather dark, emotional moments in the film that did very well in enriching the characters. This wasn’t left to just Fassbender’s character alone, but also to that of Cyclops (played by Tye Sheridan). There was also some interesting moments with Jean Grey’s character (played by Sophie Turner ) that fans of the series will more than likely appreciate as well. Oscar Isaac was exceptional as Apocalypse. He was dark, intimidating and powerful. He felt like a genuine threat to the world given his abilities.

To my surprise, this movie was rather violent and somewhat graphic. Even though it is PG-13, it still managed to push the limitations just a bit. However, while it was violent, and took on such a serious tone, it still found time to bring in a little fun. We can thank Quicksilver (played by Evan Peters) for that. Just like in the past films, he managed to bring in the comic relief.

The Bad:

Mystique. Her character is overly emphasized in this third installment. Almost every single character in the movie redirected their attention and focused back to Mystique. There was such an unnecessary focus on her character that many of the other issues almost seemed to lose their significance. Seriously, it was just over the top and ridiculous. I don’t think the movie could go 10 minutes without some sort of praise or reference to Mystique. Because of the constant focus on her character, much of the other characters were also lost in the process. Even worse, there simply didn’t seem to be any level of separation within Jennifer Lawrence’s character because she was a carbon copy of Katniss character from The Hunger Games (I think they even used some of the same lines).

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There was a lot of excitement to see Olivia Munn play Psylocke and Alexandra Shipp play Storm. Unfortunately, they each probably had a total of maybe 20 lines combined between the two of them. It was rather disappointing to feel as though we had seen their best in the trailers.

Yet again, the trailers have ruined what may have been a nice surprise. The reveal and announcement of Wolverine (played by Hugh Jackman) by the trailers simply deflate any real anticipation while viewing the movie. We know what’s going to happen the moment a certain character walks onto the scene. Also, the way he looked was just lacking in certain way. A few minor tweaks to the costume design would’ve been an easy remedy (Come back to watch my spoiler review on May 26th, to see what I mean).

The Reason:

At the end of the day, X-Men: Apocalypse was really just more of the same. I guess you could just think of it as being The Hunger Games w/ mutants. There wasn’t anything significantly different or epic to make this movie stand out from the rest. It’s not a horrible movie, but I’m not sure I’d say it is the best. It’s in their top 3 possibly.

I’ve been a fan of the X-Men franchise for a while, so you can take my critique with a grain of salt. I have never been a fan of the push of Mystique as the reluctant hero. We all know that this is only the case because it’s Jennifer Lawrence playing the part. I would’ve been okay if they had cast her as Rogue instead… maybe (At least then they wouldn’t have to completely revise the stories and characters). Now, before I get labeled as some misogynistic, sexist film critic, let me explain. If 20th Century FOX was really concerned about making a female hero, why didn’t they highlight a character like Storm? A BLACK…WOMAN… (that’s two wins right there) who actually was a leader of the X-Men.

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My bigger problem with Jennifer Lawrence/Mystique is that her character revision completely over shadows the issues and themes that made X-Men so relevant and timeless. The focus on her as a single hero, nullifies the X-Men’s concept of being a team. Even worse, her character’s emphasis undermines the racial themes that the X-Men franchise used to tackle. While it wasn’t a matter of “black vs white”, the “mutants vs humans” theme was a reflection of the civil rights movement. Both Professor X and Magneto’s characters were based on the ideologies of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. I think it’s unfortunate that rather than using this franchise to bring attention to a relevant social issues, this Mystique hype waters down to a more one-dimensional, cliche’, hero story. Maybe this wouldn’t be an issue if FOX decided to just do a Mystique solo film, but to use the X-Men franchise to guise this Hollywood romanticizing of Jennifer Lawrence is a bit too much for my liking.

Feel free to watch this in 3D. Parents please be advised that this isn’t the most kid friendly movie. There was at least one F-Bomb dropped, and as mentioned, the violence does push the PG-13 boundaries a bit. Go in with low expectations so that you can get the most out of this film. Don’t be in a hurry to leave either because there’s one end credit scene to see.

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