I have seen a lot of unfavourable reviews for the X-Men Apocalypse movie recently. But when I went and saw it for myself, I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed the movie. It wasn’t without its flaws, but I think has been unkindly treated.
I will drop spoilers ahead, so if you are sensitive about such things and have not yet seen the movie, please come back after you have. Oh, there is a post credit scene. Unless you are fanboy enough to recognise obscure X Men villains by their civilian name, it wont be worth waiting around for.
This latest instalment to the X Men franchise was enjoyable to watch. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender continue to prove worthy successors to Sir Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellan in their respective characters, Charles Xavier and Magneto. Providing a strong core for the rest of the cast.
Jennifer Lawrence was a bit flat to me in this performance as Mystique.
Nicolas Hoult is largely wasted as Beast. His character mismatched in a psychic telekinetic ninja vs furry strong jumpy dude matchup. I’m not sure they really thought that one through. Rose Byrne as Moira Mactaggert was similarly underused.
Oscar Isaac does a respectable performance as En Sabah Nur (aka: Apocalypse). The liberties added to his powers and origin were okay. His ultimate apocalyptic plan was tired and his motives difficult to understand.
Evan Peters, the centre of many peoples’ favourite scene from Days of Future Past, plays Quicksliver. A performance that in no way aligns with any version of the character I have seen in the comics. Yet it works well, keeping a lighter character to the movie. He has another big sceen that is likely to again be many’s favourite.
Sophie Turner does a fair job as Jean Grey. Her ultimate release of her powers didn’t work for me. A scene where everything is falling apart, Mystique is dying, and you slowly walk … step… by… step…. into ….. battle….
The attempt at being dramatic was a bit clumsy for me.
Tye Sheridan does a good job playing Cyclops, given the first decent development the character has seen in an X Men movie to date.
Kodi Smit-McPhee delivers a fair performance of Nightcrawler. His powers used predictably, but still a good representation of Kurt Wagner.
Alexandra Shipp as Storm was a good casting choice. While suffering a little from how crowded screen time for each character got, I really like what Shipp did with her.
Lana Condor as Jubilee was barely present, so yeah, pretty much a fair representation of the character. BURN! Actually, totally wasted, though again, I am pleased that this film isn’t one getting accused of whitewashing its international characters. Though one might argue Alexandra Shipp as Psylocke against that. Shipp had a couple of cool scenes, but again had to share the screen with so many.
The franchise does look to be in reasonably strong hands. There are minor clues or easter eggs scattered throughout that could allow the franchise to pursue a number of different major X Men story arcs.
The climactic final battle just lacked suspense for me. Magneto was doing something bad that I didn’t really understand or understand why he was doing it. But it was definitely bad. Everyone hung around and took turns fighting so the camera could capture all the action instead of reacting to an urgent situation the way they should. The characters that don’t seem to survive the movie are discarded pretty weakly.
But despite these shortfalls, I would rate this movie, and the X Men franchise, as the second strongest behind the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but ahead of DC.
What was that post credit scene all about?
Reinforcing – here there be spoilers.
In the post credit scene we return to Stryker’s Weapon X facility. Survivors are cleaning up as some black suits with a black briefcase stride through the rubble and carnage purposefully. They reach the room where Wolverine was held and open a cabinet next to his cell, taking a blood sample marked Weapon X. They place it in the briefcase and close it, revealing a corporate logo that reads Essex Corp. End Scene.
This scene appears to set up the next X Men movie’s villain, Nathaniel Essex, aka: Mr Sinister. A pretty cool villain, overall.
So what next?
I mentioned a number of possible story arcs. Here are my thoughts on some of the options.
House of M
Unlikely. Too large a cast to really drive home the impact behind that alternate reality. And if you were going to delve into alternate realities, I’d be doing Age of Apocalypse first.
Weak Xenomorph knock-offs? A classic villain, I agree. But not one I think could translate well to the big screen.
Heavily dependant on CG animation, again I think there are better options.
Dark Phoenix Saga
After X Men: The Last Stand was for so long rated the least of the X Men movies, I think they would be afraid to revisit this story. The window for success is pretty narrow. And given that they have already used the Hellfire Club in First Class, they wouldn’t be able to hold close to the original comic story.
The bone claws thing was kinda done in The Wolverine, but a confrontation so climactic that it forces Charles to mindwipe Magneto, an event in the comics that then led to the events of Onslaught, I could get behind that.
A classic story centred around Mr Sinister, though also around the mutant Magik, who has yet to make an appearance in the XMen movies.
A classic early X Men battle, centred around the son of Moira Mactagger, who was briefly mentioned in X Men: Apocalypse.