Film Review: X-Men: Apocalypse (Brian Singer 2016)

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I am generally not one to give commentary on the latest superhero films but since I literally just watched it yesterday I have decided to do a write up on X-Men: Apocalypse. The third film in the new trilogy of X-Men films it’s been getting a more than it’s fair share of press thanks to the success of it’s predecessor X-Men: Days of Future Past. The film is set in the eighties, where the powerful mutant Apocalypse wakes up after being sealed away for thousands of years. He believes the world to have lost its way without him to guide it and he recruits four mutants to help him destroy it so he can rebuild another one in its place. Charles Xavier and the mutants from his growing academy must unite with old friends and foes alike in order to combat the growing threat.

The first thing I noticed about the film was the excellent cinematography. Every shot looked and sequence looked amazing, especially the scenes at the beginning at the end. The special effects in these sequences were also amazing and the film’s budget is clearly being used in the right areas. The action sequences were well done and probably the strongest element of the film, which is how it should be for a superhero film.

Standout sequences include the Quicksilver scene at Xavier’s mansion, where he rescues all the students in what was clearly one of his strongest moments as a character. Quicksilver is just generally a badass in this movie. He is still the comedy relief character from the previous movie but he has also involved into someone with a bit more badass. The film really goes out of its way to show how powerful speedster characters like him can be when they go all out, which I enjoyed.

Speaking of characters as a whole the one thing that bugged me was the actor’s ages. Some characters looked as though they had barely aged at all even though a decade has passed between films. Characters such as Mystique, Magneto and Charles Xavier seem to get the worst of this, but it is noticeable in a lot of the cast from previous films as well, notably Beast and Quicksilver. Although I liked the actors themselves, from a story point of view it seemed a bit odd that a decade would pass with none of the characters seeming to age a day. Magneto, to his credit, gets a beard but he still doesn’t look ten years older. I do think that maybe they could have done a bit more to show the characters’ real ages a bit. Mystique in particular seemed to blend in with the younger characters in the show and when her dialogue reminded us that she was older than them my instincts as a viewer found it hard to believe. However the acting, did offset this particular issue a lot.

Speaking of acting, I was a huge fan of the new additions to the franchise. Sophie Turner as Jean Grey was literally one of the best casting decisions they could have made. Upon watching trailers I had my doubts but as I watched the film itself I thought she fit the role perfectly. Likewise, Cyclops and Nightcrawler were played rather well. My only criticism of the new characters is that the mutants introduced (or reintroduced) into this film for the purpose of becoming Apocalypse’s horsemen, namely Angel, Psylocke and Storm seemed rather bland and without any real personality. Angel and Psylocke got this worst with hardly any character development after becoming Apocalypse’s horsemen. Storm got some development as a street urchin but after becoming one of the horsemen she seemed to remain static as a character until betraying Apocalypse at the climax, where we are suddenly reminded how much she admires Mystique. I think that she should have gotten some more scenes mid film to reinforce her beliefs, particularly since she goes on to become a prominent member of the X-Men later on in the continuity.

As a whole the movie was a breathtaking ride. Somehow, despite my bugbears I managed to enjoy it immensely, mostly because the good parts of the movie more than made up the parts which left me scratching my head. At its core, this is an excellent movie with some of the best action sequences and special effects which I’ve seen in a while. It also goes out of its way to throw in a few continuity bonuses for die hard X-Men fans, both from the films and the comics. This is probably one of the best X-Men films I’ve seen to date, tied with its predecessor and the first film of the original trilogy.

SCORE: 4.5/5

IN A WORD: BREATHTAKING

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