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Movie Review: X-Men Apocalypse (Spoiler Free)

Updated on May 27, 2016

Spoiler Free

Just as it says in the title.

A poster for the film
A poster for the film | Source

Initial Impressions

I was a little worried before I went to see this film. I read a couple of reviews, none of them particularity favorable. After all, most people were coming off seeing Civil War and probably had bigger expectations.

Then I saw the film. Sure, there were things I didn't like, parts I wish were more focused on, but you know what? I really enjoyed it. There's a lot that's good about it and it keeps up the respectability of the better X-Men films we've seen. You've got a host of characters with different powers (but screw Jubilee because she's not really part of the film) and the focus is largely off of Mystique and Wolverine (you know, like it was in First Class which might be my favorite). There's a fair bit of nostalgia too, which favors those who have stuck with the franchise thus far.

From left to right: Olivia Munn (as Psylocke), Oscar Isaac (as Apocalypse), and Michael Fassenbender (as Magneto). I can honestly say I am astounded by the amount of self-esteem to wear that outfit.
From left to right: Olivia Munn (as Psylocke), Oscar Isaac (as Apocalypse), and Michael Fassenbender (as Magneto). I can honestly say I am astounded by the amount of self-esteem to wear that outfit. | Source

The Plot

In short, the first mutant was born tens of thousands of years ago and would destroy and remark the world in his image. We see him reawaken and begin recruiting characters. Mystique is kind of a mythic hero due to her creating a positive image for mutants after saving the President from Magneto, Xavier's school is on the rise, and Magneto is living a quiet life.

We get to see younger characters from the original films in Nightcrawler, Angel, Jean Grey, Cyclops, and Storm. Quicksilver makes a return, as does Beast. We are also introduced to Psylocke for the first time, but her character really isn't that important to be honest.

The Biggest Issue

Apocalypse is lame. I like Oscar Isaac, I like him a lot, but there is no character or flavor to his role. When he reawakens in the 80's, he connects and understands the world by first plugging into a television, then by plugging into Cerebro (in a roundabout way). As my wife put it, he's exactly like a robot, not really that different from Ultron at all.

His powers are vague (but that's fine because it's Apocalypse) but a lot of his comic book intention is lost in the translation. He's the biggest supporter of the survival of the fittest, believing only the strongest mutants should inherit the world. However, while the film shows this, they undeniably show that Apocalypse really just wants to be super powerful and rule the world. It's a fairly generic treatment of the character.

Finally, physically, Apocalypse is lacking. Aside from one astral confrontation, Apocalypse looks no taller than most of his followers, despite coming in at around 7 feet tall in the comics. He's not an imposing figure whatsoever, and that works against him whenever he's on screen. He's not very scary either, preferring to use his followers to cause the most damage to his enemies.

Kodi Smit-McPhee as the Nightcrawler, one of my favorite X-Men since Alan Cumming's portrayal in X-Men 2.
Kodi Smit-McPhee as the Nightcrawler, one of my favorite X-Men since Alan Cumming's portrayal in X-Men 2. | Source

Rated PG-13

There's a fair amount of body horror in this film, especially at the beginning. It's not at all to the extremes where you might find horror films, but you see a kid's ribs break out his skin and grow and mutant into metallic wings. You see plenty of people crushed to death with sickening squishes, and another guy's body gets turned into a pretzel through telekinesis. It's fairly shocking, expectant, and younger children will likely be freaked out by it at the very least.

That being said, there's one 'f-bomb' (as is the recipe for making X-Men films) but hardly any other profanities. People worried about the pseudo-nude nature of Mystique's blue form only have maybe 2 minutes screen time of that. And of course there's violence, because it's genetically mutated superheroes fighting each other.

Closing Thoughts

This is no Civil War, nor am I trying to compare them. It certainly has more fun with itself than Batman vs Superman though.

And sure, I don't care much for the villain (everything pales compared to Ian McKlellan's Magneto anyways), but this film does something I've missed: it focuses on the full roster of its heroes rather than just one or two. Yes, Mystique is in it and she has some decent parts, but you'll find yourself focusing more on the social outcasts of Scott Summers, Jean Grey, and Nightcrawler more. It's nice and refreshing! I mean, I go to X-Men movies to see a cast of characters, and while Jennifer Lawrence and Hugh Jackman do fantastic jobs with their characters, I would to see the rest of the cast do stuff.

Also, major props to Storm. Sure, she doesn't get a huge part in the film, but she felt more fleshed out than when Halle Berry played the character. Actually seeing her origin in the comics roughly brought to life in the film made me extremely happy.

Quicksilver scenes are the bomb once again, btw, but you probably already knew that. Also, I greatly enjoyed Magneto's arc, but that happens when he's usually one of the most interesting characters in the X-Men universe.

Finally, this film does seem to try apologize and fix the issues of X3: The Last Stand. It makes a couple jokes about it while comparing itself to it, and I definitely think it comes out on top.


Luke Evans reprises his role as Quicksilver, which is always the comedic highlight of the film
Luke Evans reprises his role as Quicksilver, which is always the comedic highlight of the film | Source

Tl;dr

  • A good, borderline great addition to the X-Men film franchise
  • Focuses on the cast of heroes on the whole rather than one or two headliners (Mystique or Wolverine)
  • Super lackluster villain
  • Great intros and re-introductions to characters new in this timeline
  • Seems to apologize and make up for X3

Do you plan on seeing this film?

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