Hot Take: Bloated. Overstuffed. There’s a lot of wasted time in this 2 and 1/2 hour superhero flick. Two or three great scenes can’t make up for a movie we’ve already seen in some way, shape or form already.
Bryan Singer is an excellent director. He’s done incredible things with the X-Men franchise. However, after seeing X-Men: Apocalypse, it’s hard to not wonder if he really has anything new to say. Maybe it’s writer Simon Kinberg who has had a sporadic history with writing X-Men films. (He also wrote Fantastic Four so it’s tempting to cast aspersions on him.) There’s not a ton of originality in X-Men: Apocalypse and with two seasoned X-Men vets at the helm, pointing the finger in their direction isn’t a ridiculous conclusion, is it?
X-Men: Apocalypse is the ninth installment in the X-Men franchise yet we’re still re-visiting origin stories. Granted, we’re dealing with alternate timelines but was this more of a convenient way to avoid admitting there’s nothing much left to say when it comes to the X-Men?
Let’s take Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), for example. The most explored character in the X-Men universe who already has an origin story (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) and a second film (The Wolverine) has also appeared in every installment of the X-Men franchise. For his latest appearance, Wolverine shows up in his Weapon X form and gives us yet another glimpse into his origin story. Sure, the scene is phenomenal and it’s always great when Wolverine shows up but how do we always end up back at yet another origin story?
This particular chapter of the X-Men spends a lot of time revisiting. It spends so much time revisiting, the overloaded story has very little room for the development of Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac). It does make some time for a little character development but, unfortunately, Apocalypse comes across as one dimensional. It’s not Isaac’s fault as he does a heck of a job with what he’s given to work with but when I think power absorbing villain and compare the big screen Apocalypse to the small screen’s Sylar in Heroes, I would have loved to have seen something closer to the depth of Sylar.
The strongest performance in X-Men: Apocalypse is Michael Fassbender as Magneto. His emotional tale brings a realistically dark and gutwrenching moment of humanity to the mostly over-the-top film. His side story could stand alone with only it’s brevity keeping it within the confines of X-Men: Apocalypse.
The lengthy X-Men: Apocalypse isn’t terrible. Some of it’s fault aren’t even it’s own as we’re only at the end of May and it is the fourth big screen superhero spectacle of the year. Of the four, it is well behind Captain America: Civil War and Deadpool and on par with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in entertainment value. With more X-Men to come, there’s hope we can progress without regressing. Wasting more time with backstories we already know might be easy filler but do we really need filler in a movie over 200 minutes in length? That’s the danger of an alternate timeline which requires more re-introductions though. Hopefully, we’ve taped over the reset button going forward.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
Easily, the scene of the film features Quicksilver’s (Evan Peters) supersonic heroics. The scene is similar to the one in X-Men: Days of Future Past but not the same. The scene in Days of Future Past has a better set-up but both deliver with an awesome visual with this one set to a track of the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)” and this one having just the right tick of humor.
Despite the inordinate amount of characters present in X-Men: Apocalypse, there’s a balance to those who get adequate screen time (although some get lost in the shuffle) and no single storyline dominates. This ends up being a double-edged sword but likely more satisfying than one particular storyline dominating the rest.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- Too Many Characters, (Even At 2 And 1/2 Hours Plus) Not Enough Time
If you’re a fan of Olivia Munn or the Psylocke character, don’t expect much. There’s a few cool visuals which I think may have all been in the trailers but not much beyond. The same could be said for Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique whose character lacks any real development despite a decent amount of screen time.
- “Ancient” Egypt
The opening scene hit a flat note especially with it’s more modern feel even though it is set in ancient Egypt. The entire scene felt more like cosplay than Hollywood.