X-Men: Apocalypse – A step up for an ailing franchise.
When it comes to the X-Men I walk a risky path. You see, the wife loves them, and I generally find them a nonsensical disappointment. Case in point, Days of Future Past (2014) is one that we have agreed to not discuss at all, as such a discussion generally turns a good day sour. So it was with some trepidation that we headed out together to catch X-Men: Apocalypse.
First off, it’s better than its predecessor. At least I was able to find some sense in the actions and motivations of the characters this time around, something I couldn’t say for Days of Future Past. The return of Evan Peters as Quicksilver is a notable highlight of the film, though it is a little obvious that the creators here were desperate to try and repeat his classic scene from Days. A number of characters have returned for this outing, being played by a newer, fresher cast lead by Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games) playing the pivotal role of Raven / Mystique. Kodi Smit-McPhee is great as Nightcrawler, and Sophie Turner, Alexandra Shipp and Tye Sheridan are all likable as Jean Grey, Storm and Cyclops respectively. Hugh Jackman’s brief cameo, returning as fan-favourite Wolverine, is also a welcome moment in the film.
The other two positives in Apocalypse are the further development of Michael Fassbender’s Magneto, a character that continues to run back and forth, straddling the lines of right and wrong without ever truly being evil, and Oscar Isaac as Apocalypse. The openning introduction of Apocalypse is a great scene, and his character maintains great strength and menace throughout the film.
James McAvoy as Professor X is, to be honest, becoming a little tiresome. This is through no fault of Mr McAvoy himself, it’s just movie after movie I get tired of the same old same old in his relationship with Magneto. It’s kind of like making Return of the Jedi seven or eight times in a row and having to listen to Luke tell Darth Vader he can still sense the good in him. There comes a point at which it becomes painfully predictable and boring.
The special effects here are of a grand scale, but really, we’ve seen it all before. The CGI destruction of buildings and landscapes has been done to death, and for a movie attempting to be one with a grand scope and great magnitude I found myself sitting fairly bored during these scenes.
And Olivia Munn. What can be said? I’ve been a fan since The Newsroom and I was looking forward to seeing her kick some butt as Psylocke. But the fact is she is barely used here, and when she does appear, there is very little butt-kicking from her. Really here she is more of a lost puppy following around after Apocalypse.
So this one’s an improvement. It’s still not paced great, and it does drag a little, but a fresh injection of cast members has worked well here, and it does deserve a look.