X-Men Review – Familiar Mistakes Plague X-MEN: APOCALYPSE written by Sean Gerber May 11, 2016 As the DC Extended Universe begins and the Marvel Cinematic Universe enters its third phase, 20th Century Fox’s X-Men series ranks as the elder statesmen of superhero movie franchises. It’s been running without a reboot (technically) since 2000’s X-Men, a film often credited with kicking off the modern era of superhero films. After a couple misfires, the franchise was reinvigorated by X-Men: First Class (2011) and X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014), the latter of which was the series’ most critically acclaimed and highest grossing picture. The newest entry, X-Men: Apocalypse, is charged with carrying that momentum forward, but trips over its own feet and falls back into familiar traps. In a year in which superheroes are either fighting each other or drawing inspiration from raunch comedies, X-Men: Apocalypse offers a more traditional superhero story. A group of heroes have to stop a big bad and his evil allies from destroying the world. There is nothing wrong with that as a basic premise, even if it’s been done so many times before. It’s going to be done again and again because saving the world from evildoers is generally what superheroes do. The problems arise when X-Men: Apocalypse fails to make appropriate investments in its characters to help them stand out and breathe life into its generic plot. X-Men: Apocalypse wastes time, dragging its feet through one redundant scene after the next as the titular villain, Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac), emerges after napping for several centuries and recruits his Four Horsemen. We watch as he has the same uninteresting conversation four times with Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Psylocke (Olivia Munn), Angel (Ben Hardy), and Magneto (Michael Fassbender.) The lyrics to this chorus can be learned after the first pass, yet the movie does not take the necessary step of either fleshing it out further or just skipping the lines we already know. One of the scenes is scored by an appropriate Metallica track, however, so it has that going for it. As Apocalypse assembles his team, Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) is busy teaching his gifted youngsters and resisting Mystique’s (Jennifer Lawrence) arguments to train the mutants for inevitable combat. Scott Summers, a.k.a. Cyclops (Tye Sheridan), arrives as a prospective new student after recently gaining his mutant powers and quickly crushes on Jean Grey (Sophia Turner.) Grey is already hard at work not just mastering, but controlling her powers, as nightmares tease us with the possibility of going through the Dark Phoenix Saga, a central part of this same series’ first three films, all over again. Jean Grey is not the only one guilty of using old material. Quicksilver (Evan Peters) returns to do his slow motion bit from X-Men: Days of Future Past once more, only this time far less clever and for far too long. He also has some unresolved issues with his father, Magneto, which Quicksilver never brings up to the one person who matters. Magneto, despite a new defining moment of tragedy that could have been interesting enough to explore in the character’s own film, is stuck straddling the “will he or won’t he” line between good and evil where we have already seen him in several films. Like most of its predecessors, X-Men: Apocalypse cannot stay away from the stars of the picture long enough to give the rest of the ensemble interesting things to say and do throughout the film. Nightcrawler (Kodi Smith-McPhee) has teleportation powers that come in handy, but as a character, his place in the story is lacking. That’s still better than Jubilee (Lana Condor), whose powers we never see and is only there to remind 90s X-Men cartoon fans of her yellow jacket. Non-mutant Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne), though the fact that she hasn’t aged in 20 years should arouse suspicion instead of Xavier, returns from X-Men: First Class only to provide exposition to help the audience understand who and what Apocalypse is, as the information she provides is of no real help to the other characters. The most underserved of all is Storm. Alexandra Shipp is so great at playing Ororo Munroe when she actually gets to speak. She has an excellent little speech when she first meets Apocalypse before falling into the ranks of the Four Horsemen and being lost for just about the rest of the movie. I should point out that the Four Horsemen are not mindless drones, so there is no brainwashing excuse for the character’s lack of dialogue the rest of the way. Of all the new actors in this franchise, Shipp shows the most promise and deserves better in the next outing. Most of the movie is invested in Apocalypse, which is unnecessary given that his motivations are fairly straightforward. He’s omnipotent, believes the strongest mutants should worship him, and everyone else needs to die. His plan for killing most of the life on Earth is weirdly complicated even for a comic book villain. Magneto plays a huge part in the final phase of Apocalypse’s plan and achieves what looks to be a higher body count and damage toll than any character ever has. Remember that Magneto wasn’t brainwashed and has chosen to serve Apocalypse in this plan. He’s fully accountable for what happens or at least he ought to be, which makes the ending of the film highly questionable. The big battle between Apocalypse, his Horsemen, and the X-Men does not feel big at all. It’s bland and feels like everyone is posing for a still photo, not creating action for a motion picture. With so little action throughout most of the film, there should be plenty of energy conserved for the final confrontation, but it’s never unleashed. The lack of action, even in a summer blockbuster starring superheroes, can be forgiven if the story and character work are interesting enough, but they are not. X-Men: Apocalypse is a disappointment, as we have been treated to far better from this series, director Bryan Singer, and writer/producer Simon Kinberg. Where Days of Future Past felt like the promise of a better tomorrow for mutants in movies, Apocalypse is a giant step back. The lessons learned along the way seem to have been forgotten in a failed attempt to make what is old feel new again. It’s not impossible to achieve that end, but the process begins with character development, something X-Men: Apocalypse sorely lacks. Review – Familiar Mistakes Plague X-MEN: APOCALYPSE was last modified: May 19th, 2016 by Sean Gerber Related X-Men: Apocalypse 11 comments 0 Facebook Twitter Google + Pinterest Sean Gerber Sean Gerber is the founder and editor-in-chief of Modern Myth Media. When he's not writing here, you can catch him as the host of Popular Opinion Podcast, Batman News, and Marvel News! previous post CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR Gives Marvel Another Massive Hit With $179.1M Opening Weekend next post Lupita Nyong’o Is In Talks For Marvel’s BLACK PANTHER You may also like X-MEN: APOCALYPSE Coming 2016! December 5, 2013 Open Forum: X-MEN: APOCALYPSE May 26, 2016 ‘First Class’ Sequel Now Titled ‘X-Men: Days... August 2, 2012 MMM #186: X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST... June 1, 2014 ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ Logo &... July 18, 2013 2016 in Review: The Year the Good... January 2, 2017 First X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST Footage October 24, 2013 MMM Podcast #183: X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE... May 26, 2014 Marvel News #31: X-MEN: APOCALYPSE Review June 2, 2016 ‘X-Men: DOFP’ Goes Viral with Trask Industries July 30, 2013 Oreole Here’s my favorite quote from the Empire review of this film. “How many times does Xavier have to tell us that there is still good in Magneto—by now a mass murderer several times over–before someone pulls out a lightsaber?” As for this film’s reception, not suprised, all the film trailers looked completely unengaging and dull and Lawrence never looked like she gave a shit. All-New Wolverine’s O-Face It’s at 56% ATM. Oreole I think releasing this movie in close proximity to Civil War was a mistake; that might make take a toll on its box office. I think that’s partially why critics are being so hard on it because Civil War set a high standard that the next superhero movie has to meet. Compared to Civil War, Apocalypse seems so tame and lackluster. Kinda sucks but it is what it is. I’m sure it’s not a bad movie, though. At least Deadpool was good. Mutherphucker I saw the movie and it was really obvious Apocalypse was influencing the horseman. I’m surprised the Empire review missed that. stock This is unfortunate, but not entirely unexpected. I haven’t been that impressed with the previous outings, at least since X3. Problem is, these characters are not allowed the opportunity to have any real distinct personalities or depth. There’s too many of them. They boil down rather completely to whatever power they have. Besides that, what are Apocalypse’s powers? Sean states it’s not mind control. Why are any of them following him? I saw a goofy preview where Xavier threw a punch at him. Xavier. It seems like they really didn’t know what to do with a guy who is supposed to be a god. And that’s not surprising. The question I find myself asking is does Apocalypse validate Stryker’s position on Mutants? Since he wants to destroy the world, and he gets at least 4 powerful mutants to help him, I’d say yes. Mutherphucker Singer mentioned months ago that Apoc had superhuman persuasion which he uses on the horsemen, but he wanted leave the extend of it ambiguous. stock I seem to remember that he created Archangel out of Angel, (somehow), but I didn’t know what actual powers he had. Like I said, portraying someone as not just a mutant but a god,( as in, creating the illusion of a being as a stand-in for God) would be a difficult thing to pull off in an X-Men flick. That’s a helluva screen name BTW. SeanLM The Fox X-Men series is so wildly inconsistent. You never know what you’re going to get when they put out a movie. Sometimes they’re excellent (Deadpool, X2, DOFP). Sometimes they’re acceptable but flawed (First Class, X-Men 2000). Sometimes they’re middling (The Wolverine) and sometimes they’re wretched (X-Men Origins Wolverine, X3). This looks like a middling entry. The next one might be a masterpiece… or garbage. The three trailers have done this movie absolutely no favors. Could they be any more uninspired? We have the bad guy saying things like “Their world will FALL!” “We’ll build a new world!” We have J-Law saying things like “Forget what you think you know.” “This is WAR!” and “I’ll teach them to fight!” Hank McCoy says, as if half-asleep, “The world needs the X-Men.” As is the case with bad trailers, every plot point is spelled out: Things have been relatively quiet since the last movie. But this won’t last. This is who Apocalypse is and where he came from. This is what he can do. He has four horsemen. Magneto is one of them because his family is dead. Professor X still ridiculously thinks Magneto can be reasoned with. Apocalypse wants to destroy everything and rule the world. Of course, it’s all helpfully narrated because we the audience need our hands held. Cue the CG floating cars, debris, and disintegrating buildings. Here are some flashes of some new characters showing off their powers in slow motion. Add the ubiquitous BWOOOMMM!!!! sound effect that has been in every trailer since Inception. Just perfect. stock Too bad about the Beast. The Blue furred Berserker was my favorite growing up ( back when he had left the intellectual personality behind). Kelsey Grammar seemed to me the best fit, but the movies haven’t done him justice. He’s never crouching. I’m not at all sure why there is all the love for DOFP. I’d put that purely in the middling category myself. But I just got out of CA:CW. The theme this year is: people with superpowers fight each other. Nuff said. All-New Wolverine’s O-Face Straight I’ve read that this movie is full of action. Mutherphucker >Magneto wasn’t brainwashed. Singer mentioned months ago that Apoc had superhuman persuasion which he uses on the horsemen, but he wanted leave the extend of it ambiguous.