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Vault Movie Review: “X-Men: Apocalypse”

There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

Theatrical Release: 5/27/2016

Theatrical Release: 5/27/2016

Synopsis

En Sabah Nur (Oscaar Isaac) was a powerful mutant who once ruled Egypt before was entombed alive. He has remained in his tomb for centuries, but he has finally been freed. Now going by the name Apocalypse, En Sabah Nur is disgusted with what has become of humanity. He believes humanity is lost, with their internet, all of their devices, and all of their distractions. He knows he has the ability to correct the ship, so he begins setting his plan in motion, one that will wipe out humanity so that it could be reset in his vision.

Apocalypse cannot fulfill his mission on his own, however. He needs four powerful mutants on his side, so he sets out to recruit his Four Horsemen, but his mission will not go unchallenged. Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and the X-Men will do whatever it takes to stop him, but they have never faced a mutant as powerful as Apocalypse. Apocalypse has super strength, he has super intelligence, he has the ability to manipulate other mutants’ powers, he has powerful telepathic and telekinetic abilities, and he is also both immortal and seemingly invulnerable. The X-Men will do whatever it takes to stop Apocalypse from fulfilling his plan, but it quickly becomes clear that even all together, they may not be enough to stop him.

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

All movies start with an average score of 75pts, points are then added or subtracted based on each Pro and Con. Each Pro or Con is designated points, ranging from 0-10, to convey how significant these Pros or Cons are.

The ProsThe Cons

The X-Men (+5pts)

Psylocke (-2pts)

The Action (+6pts)

Development (-4pts)

The Four Horsemen (+3pts)

Apocalypse & The Stakes (-6pts)

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Pro: The X-Men (+5pts)

You probably would not have watched this movie if you had not seen at least a few of the other movies in this franchise. One thing that all of these movies did a decent job of was establishing their teams of mutants. I liked all of the mutants in this story—although I was not nearly as thrilled with the new casting of Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) and Cyclops (Tye Sheridan) as I was with the recasting of Charles, Magneto, Beast, and Mystique in X-Men: First Class—and I liked seeing all of their powers in action. We got more from Charles, Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), Magneto (Michael Fassbender), Beast (Nicholas Hoult), and Quicksilver (Evan Peters). We also got the younger versions of Jean Grey, Cyclops, Storm (Alexandra Shipp), and Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee). There were all of these mutants and plenty more, and I enjoyed exploring each of them, where they were at during the events of this movie, and how they used their powers both in and out of action. This movie was not one of the franchise's best, but the filmmakers once again delivered an interesting assortment of mutants that I enjoyed watching.

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Con: Psylocke (-2pts)

When I saw that Olivia Munn would be playing Psylocke, I was pretty excited. I thought she was a great casting choice, because she looked the part, she was a fairly well-known actress, and I knew she had what it took to make the character interesting. I was also just excited because I think that Psylocke is a cool and interesting character, so regardless of the actress in the role, I was excited to see what the filmmakers were going to do with the character. Unfortunately, they did not do much with her. Psylocke got a decent action sequence toward the end of the movie, but the filmmakers did not really develop the character at all, and they instead made her little more than a nameless, faceless goon for the X-Men to fight. It just felt like a huge waste of the great casting of an awesome character.

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Pro: The Action (+6pts)

This was an X-Men movie, which meant there would be a whole bunch of mutants with a whole variety of powers, and plenty of action to showcase them all. This was also the eighth movie in the franchise, which meant the action and the visual effects would naturally look better than they had so far in this franchise. It also meant the filmmakers were no strangers to shooting action that juggled a variety of super-powered characters. X-Men movies bring plenty of mutants, and plenty of mutant action. While the action in this movie was never ground-breaking or even all that memorable, that was really just because it was right on par with the exciting X-Men action that we have seen in the last eight movies. It was more of the same, but ”the same” was entertaining superhero action.

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Con: Development (-4pts)

The biggest problem with the character development was simply that there were too many characters to develop. The filmmakers gave a little development to a lot of characters, but they did not give much development to a single one. It felt like the filmmakers only scratched the surface with every character, and by not diving deeper with really any of them, the movie felt somewhat hollow. The filmmakers could have made this movie a lot more engaging by diving deeper into even one or two of the primary characters, but the filmmakers did not do that.

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Pro: The Four Horsemen (+3pts)

I would have liked it if the filmmakers focused on this part of the story and the stories of the characters involved more heavily, but I still thought this storyline was interesting. I liked the idea that Apocalypse had to recruit modern day mutants to his cause, as it was interesting to see why each mutant joined his cause. It opened the door for the filmmakers to take a hard look at the outcasted and discriminated against population of mutants. It let the filmmakers explore mutants’ frustrations with the world around them, humanity, and the fact that having superpowers felt like a curse in the world of man. There were glimpses of the interesting movie that could have come out of this storyline, but the filmmakers just did not give this part of the story the focus I thought it deserved.

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Con: Apocalypse & The Stakes (-6pts)

I did not think this was the right time to bring in a villain like Apocalypse. He was yet another world threatening villain, in a genre full of world threatening villains, and a franchise in which the last movie required the X-Men to time travel in order to save the future. It made the stakes of this movie feel smaller than they were, and I thought this villain would have been better served if the filmmakers set him up in this movie and used him as the primary antagonist across multiple others. This would have set him apart from the other world threatening villains of the genre, and it would have made the stakes feel higher, because the filmmakers could have built toward the climax over multiple movies. Unfortunately, the filmmakers crammed all of this big bad villain into one movie, and it made him feel like an unremarkable superhero movie antagonist.

Grading Scale

GradeCategoryPoints

A+

Amazing

95-100

A-

Great

90-94

B+

Good

85-89

B-

Decent

80-84

C+

Average

75-79

C-

Watchable

70-74

D+

Bad

65-69

D-

Terrible

60-64

F

Garbage

45-59

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Grade: C+ (77pts)

I really enjoyed X-Men: Days of Future Past, so I was naturally very excited for this movie. Unfortunately, I did not think X-Men: Apocalypse came anywhere near its predecessor. The action was entertaining enough while it was happening, but it really just felt like more of the same. There were plenty of interesting mutant characters, but there were so many characters that the filmmakers did not have the time dive deep into any them. Even Apocalypse—who should have been an intimidating and formidable villain—felt very typical, as he was a big, bad, world threatening antagonist in a genre full of big, bad, world threatening antagonists.

I liked the whole Four Horsemen idea, but I did not think this part of the story got anywhere near the focus it deserved. Olivia Munn as Psylocke was a great casting choice, but the filmmakers hardly did anything with the character. Unfortunately, this movie was just fine. It never really found its groove, and I was never entirely hooked into the story. I thought the filmmakers could have done a better job with almost every aspect of the movie. It was moderately entertaining while it was on, but it was not that memorable, and it did not even come close to the high bar that was set by X-Men: Days of Future Past.

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