I was torn between X-Men: Apocalypse and that new Tim Burton Alice movie, but thanks to the folks at Cracked.com for coming up with an After Hours episode that swayed me. I’m glad I went. I was expecting just another in the X-Men series – there have been some fairly mediocre X-Men movies… Maybe it was the abundance of handsome men, maybe it was the amazing special effects, but I found myself really liking this one. I guess I just like the X-Men in general.
What a weird trend we have in comic book movies. The titles are all the same: Franchise: The Movie Plot. It’s all these convoluted story-lines with vast numbers of characters in these giant lengthy epics that require seeing every previous film in order to make sense of it. All my reviews run together because what I say about one suddenly turns out to be true of ALL of them and I have to find something else to whine about. What I guess I’m saying is as it turns out, you CAN write a movie that works with 12 or so characters. Oh sure, X-Men: Apocalypse was still an hour too long, but it made sense the whole way through. The film wasn’t coy about what was happening. There was none of this flashy but inexplicable conflict for reasons to be revealed later (Captain America: Civil War, also Batman vs Superman). In X-Men’s every scene, you knew what the characters wanted, what they were doing and why it mattered. This makes for a better film.
I loved the entire look of this film, and not just because there was a PILE of manflesh (and there was). But the shots were well put together. The sets were wonderful, especially the X-mansion, ‘cause I’m a sucker for that stuff. The special effects were really effective. And most importantly, during the fight scenes, the camera stayed steady – none of this suddenly hand-held camera nonsense. The only thing I didn’t like looking at was the main villain himself. This could just be a me thing, but I just couldn’t take him seriously with all that make-up on. Maybe that look worked in the comics, but on the big screen it just looked like they couldn’t decide between Predator or Dr. Frankenfurter and decided to go with elements of each. I liked his voice, his eyes were neat when he used his powers and Oscar Isaac was great but visually maybe they should have come up with a different character design overall.
Mild spoilers in this paragraph. Maybe I’m being overly nit-picky here, but the character motivations didn’t always make sense to me. There was one point in the middle of the film where the villain could have simply accomplished his goal but, for reasons I don’t quite understand, chose not to. You could argue one way or another but I didn’t get it. I didn’t really understand why he wanted an apocalypse either. Also unclear (to me at least) was what he could and could not do. It seemed like he could do nearly anything until it was time for him not to. That made for what was, in my mind, a Deus-ex-machina ending which wasn’t quite the payoff I might have been looking for in an otherwise well-written movie.
Did I mention I loved the casting and acting? I did. I liked Michael Fassbender, Nicholas Hoult, Evan Peters, Josh Helman, Tye Sheridan, Lucas Till, Josh Helman, Hugh Jackman and especially Ben Hardy. My goodness, thank you boys. I also liked Sophie Turner; this iteration of Jean Grey seemed more relatable than any of her previous ones, though maybe it was just that she was angsty. It’s tricky to cast a movie that relies so heavily on a lot of unique characters, but they pulled it off.
So is X-Men: Apocalypse worth seeing? Yes, especially if you’re a fan. You don’t need to see all the previous movies in this franchise to know what’s going on (though it’s a nice bonus). There were some funny bits, fantastic set pieces and some amazing one-liners. I liked it better than Days of Future Past, but that could just be because this one doesn’t even mention Time Travel.