By Christian DiMartino
Alright I’m gonna be up front: it takes a lot for me to not enjoy an X-Men movie. I won’t deny that throughout its 16 year run, it’s been a tad uneven, what with trying to keep up with each other and what not. But yet I always feel like they put on a good show. I even enjoy the outrageous X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and it really takes a lot to enjoy that one.
But yet with X-Men: First Class and even more so with X-Men: Days of Future Past, I could sense the series getting better. So I obviously had huge hopes for X-Men: Apocalypse… Until the reviews came out. But ya know, I’m glad the critics undersold it to an extent, because I think due to the fact that I lowered my expectations, I ended up enjoying X-Men: Apocalypse more than I was expecting.
Alright, so where to begin? There’s a lot of ground to cover here and I have to avoid spoilers, so I’ll do my best. It’s a tall order. The film opens in ancient Egypt, and the worlds first mutant, Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac, drowned in makeup) is, after a mishap, entombed. Then thousands of years later, he rises again, and once he wakes his ass up, he discovers how miserable the world is, and sets out to destroy it completely and start over. So basically like any terrorists plan, but they usually don’t end up alive. In order to do so, he needs to gather up the four Horseman of… You get the idea.
On the other end of the spectrum, Professor Xavier (James McAvoy) catches wind of his return, and is reunited with Moira (Rose Byrne), the FBI agent for who he erased her memories. Then we also have Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique, who sets out to gather other mutants. Then there’s Magneto (Michael Fassbender), who after the events of the previous film, has gone into hiding with a wife and child. Let’s just say, that doesn’t last too long.
Then the film also introduces a young Cyclops (Tye Sheridan)and Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), who have a romance blossoming. And then we also throw the scene stealing Evan Peters as Quicksilver. He stole the show last time. He does so again, and also, once again, gets the best scene of the movie to himself: he rescues the children of the school, set to “Sweet Dreams are Made of This.” It’s a dazzling, funny, unforgettable sequence.
Alright, now that I’m done catching myself up, let’s really get down to business. Now I admit that it is a comedown from First Class and Days of Future Past, and I’ll also admit that there’s some noticeable flaws. Such as the fact that it’s too long, there’s a bit too much going on, new additions such as Olivia Munn don’t get to do a whole lot. It’s also sorta hard to grasp, especially if you’ve seen the earlier films.
But ya know, despite all of these problems, there’s so much in X-Men: Apocalypse that I liked that it was easy to ignore the flaws. It’s visually arresting, great fun, splendidly acted, and ultimately satisfying.
I liked the majority of the performances. McAvoy and Fassbender are as strong as can be in this type of film. Lawrence’s performance is the only one that didn’t fully have me sold. It’s not necessarily a bad performance, but she kinda seems bored.
The action sequences are a knockout, and while this is one of the darker entries, it still doesn’t fully take itself seriously. There’s funny moments aplenty, mostly complements of Peters. I will say that the last half hour is a bit odd, but I still admired the visual aspect of it.
But yet there is one thing that must be acknowledged: never once do you get the vibe that director Bryan Singer, who helmed the first two films and the previous one, is trying to set up spinoffs. This is a solid, standalone piece of work that works on its own terms. Though a Quicksilver film would be welcomed.
So perhaps I’m being too kind to X-Men: Apocalypse. Considering its negative response and all. And sure, it’s not perfect. But yet when I think back to the experience itself, I can’t complain. It sets out to deliver a good show, and I’d say, as usual, it did it.