20th Century Fox does a good job of delivering a entertainingly emotional adventure to reintroduce us to some of our favorite mutant heroes. X-Men: Apocalypse is a fun, unique relaunch of the X-Men universe which does a good job but stops just shy of being great.
A New Beginning
This entry into the X-Men film series is clearly the reboot of the universe itself. After the events of Days of Future Past which effectively erased the series of events which had taken place in the initial series, X-Men: Apocalypse it the birth of a new world in an all new timeline.
The film picks up a few years into the canon timeline established in Days of Future Past where in Michael Fassbender’s Magneto is an infamous mutant terrorist and Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique is an iconic mutant hero. The world is well aware of the existence of mutants and is in the process of adapting. So much so that mutant are apparently a common topic for classroom discussion.
The film is used to reintroduce us to a few iconic mutants in the form of a teenage Scott Summers aka Cyclopes, Jean Grey and Kurt Wagner aka Nightcrawler. If you squint really hard and shield your eyes from the iconic yellow outfit you’ll even spy a young Jubilee who, while unfortunately not playing any major role, I don’t even think her name is actually given, spends most of her screen time hanging out with our gifted friends.
The movie does a great job of introducing these new yet familiar characters in a meaningful way which doesn’t take up too much screen time on origins while still shining a light on the essence of these character and the motivations that will some day form them into the heroic team we are oh so familiar with.
Alexandra Shipp’s Ororo Munroe aka Storm felt especially compelling. Although featuring in this film as Apocalypse’s Horseman of Famine, she is seen to have a strong sense of justice from the onset, like many having been greatly inspired but the actions of Mystique all those years ago.
The Apocalypse is Neigh
Apocalypse awakens after centuries having been betrayed by his followers and after observing the world determines that humanity has strayed from the righteous path of following his rule. In his usual fashion Apocalypse begins to assemble his chosen Four Horsemen, Storm (Famine), Archangel (War), Psylocke (Pestilence) and Magneto (War), and sets out to bring about the end of the world in order to birth his new beginning.
Oscar Issac delivers a brilliantly consistent performance of the would be messiah. Unlike many “villains” seen today Apocalypse is not driven by some grudge or petty slight. He is not on a simple quest for power as he is, in fact, near all powerful. Apocalypse is driven by a belief that he was born to rule and at no point does his belief waver.
A Whole New X-World
The movie does a great job of getting you from point A to Z, paying attention to little details along the way to ensure that everything is in line with the prequels while leaving nothing needing to be explained by the end.
The movie has various big moment such as Quicksilver’s hilarious rescue of the Xavier students, Wolverine’s X-Facility massacre or Jean facing her fears and unleashing her power to give us a glimpse of the Phoenix Force. While these “wow” moments help make the movie entertaining and meaningful they do however lack any real impact.
From the onset it is very clear that the movie is going somewhere but unfortunately it does take its time in getting there. While they did make good use of screen time the film still somehow managed to feel a little slow.
As a long time fan of the X-Men I was seriously impressed with this new world Fox managed to pull together. While respecting the comic source material the film took some liberties with story lines and characters which really paid off. It makes the same old feel somehow fresh and new without striping away that familiarity that makes you love the franchise in the first place.
One place where the film outclasses most others is definitely with the visual effects. It is obvious that the team behind the scenes had a firm understanding of the level at which the abilities on display are classed and did everything in their power bring it to life on screen. From the simple slow motion effect of Quicksilver to Magneto’s literal earth shattering display, at the very least the effects will take your breath away.
While it would have been nice to have a mention of Scarlet Witch or to see Jubilee actually participate in the meaningful events of the film. These slights can easily be forgiven by any purist comic fan as the movie truly delivers some solid content.
If you have the time, take the change and spend the cash. If you don’t, I wouldn’t recommend going out of your way.
The actors are great. The script is well written. The movie is well paced. The story is unique and respectful of the source material and oh my damn! the special effects. By all account this movie should have been outstanding but in the end it just couldn’t manage to leave a lasting impression.