The X-Men franchise continues to hit the big screens, and in recent years the refresh has been met with success from both audience and critics alike. Can this third installment keep the good vibes going?
Set in the 1980’s and after the events of “First Class”, we find Mutants remain on the fringes of society, feared by those without powers. Only the School run by Charles Xavier (James McAvoy” provides a safe home for the young students. Even though the X-Men may be disbanded and strewn across the World, a new threat from “The First Mutant” Apocalypse will force them to band together in order to save humanity.
I should start by saying that this is directed by Bryan Singer, who has heralded the new reboot and seen it succeed very well. “Days of Future Past” in particular was one I absolutely loved. So the idea of bringing in a big villain to band the team back together again almost ten years after the events of “First Class” feels a little odd. Especially when the said villain requires a prologue in Ancient Egypt, and on top of all that, we need to se where all the X-Men are now.
The reason I am starting here is simple – if you have seen the trailer you will know fairly well even with guessing, where the storyline will go. No, the reason I am bringing this up now is because it is the major flaw within the script. The first forty minutes of set-up, development, and setting you in the right place for what’s to come, is very misguided. Some aspects are fun and entertaining, while others fall flat with just being dull. This includes the likes of slow character introductions, globe-trotting that doesn’t feel as tight as it was done in “Captain America: Civil War”, and setting up Apocalypse’s plans which mainly consist of him using other people to do the dirty work. I know that some people enjoyed this opening act in contrast to the rest of what was on offer, but I sat there feeling…. kind of underwhelmed at what was being set on the table.
But, we’ll leave that sit there for a while and move on to some of the good stuff. As you’d expect by this point, the performances by some of the cast are exception (no, I’m not going there with that pun), especially the likes of Michael Fassbender as Magneto, McAvoy as Xavier, and Nicholas Hoult as Beast. The scenes with Magneto and Xavier remain the most interesting in terms of characterisation, as their battle of words rages on in that wonderfully honest and meaningful manner. Beast is who works to band the crew together, he’s the white-collar hero that is immediately likeable.
But in terms of audience appeal, top marks (once again) go to Quicksilver, played by Evan Peters. His slow-motion sequences in the film quite simply, steal the show. I absolutely love the amount of creativity and humour the team manages to fit into these small sequences, they give some fun that the film would otherwise, be very dry without. Evan gives a strong performance, he looks like he is having a great time with this character and honestly, you can’t blame him.
Sadly however, there are two bad performances that stick out like sore thumbs, though for different reasons. Jennifer Lawrence as Mistique just looked bored through the entire film, resulting in a very flat and unemotional performance. Of course, we know the reasons behind what caused this, but still, it is a shame to see it happen. Oscar Isaac as Apocalypse was not given very good dialogue or motivations to work with, he is a poor villain played by an actor we know to be fucking amazing.
Speaking of which, the final act suffers from the woes of “I just don’t care anymore”, when the stakes are set to appear high, but I wasn’t motivated into being caught up in all of it. It was a rather messy way to throw all the characters together in one area and try and resolve the threat, too many cooks and all of that. The effects are okay, nothing to make you sit there in quiet awe, although the way Apocalypse is taken down was pretty cool.
There were other things to enjoy in this to help push up the enjoyment-factor. The inclusion of Wolverine make for lots of dumb yelling and stabbing. In fact, the scenes where that is set are quite good. The arc which Magneto has is the most interesting plot point the film has to offer, and the introduction of Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) was a nice addition too.
Though I still can’t see past the issues “X-Men: Apocalypse” had even though I wanted to, I am a big fan of how the franchise was given new life with the two recent films. But this makes for a very disappointing third album, and it looks like it was indeed struck with the curse many trilogies encounter. However, that isn’t to say it is a bad film – I don’t think it deserves the snubbery that some places have given it. After all, we’ve had TWO X-men movies which were worse than it, at least this one ended up on the right side of the fence.
I enjoyed it in parts, some I enjoyed very much indeed. But the problems and poor decisions let the side down in a way that it didn’t deserve. Here’s hoping that this is just a bump in the road, and doesn’t signal and downward trend for the movie series. Do I recommend it? Sure, it is a mildly entertaining summer blockbuster, you will see it eventually. Just keep your expectations at a realistic level.
Thanks for reading!