The Most Disappointing Film of 2016 so far
Ok. By this point the word is out on this film. It is…..not great. That said, this is the classic case where ultimately the movie can be described as “It’s fine.” But now I have to talk about it in detail. However fortunately for all of you lovely people that won’t be a problem here. Because the X-Men franchise is one of my favorite superhero franchises. So I have a lot to say about it. (I have a mega-review of the entire franchise through Days of Future Past, which you can check out here) To me, X-Men: Days of Future Past is my favorite superhero movie not called The Dark Knight, and the original film in this new trilogy, X-Men: First Class is another pillar of the superhero genre as well. So how on earth could a film with most of the crew who filmed Days of Future Past returning also film this? Is the fault simply in the source material? How could an actor as charming and talented as Oscar Isaac be so incredibly underwhelming as Apocalypse? I mean it doesn't help that he's under so much makeup and CGI you don't even know it's him, but there's no doubt he was miscast for this role. But, not only that, it looks like the material he was given simply just wasn't workable for him or anyone else! So, how could the sequel to one of the pillars of the superhero genre be just..... fine?
Well, as I hinted to it starts with the villain. Apocalypse is a hugely disappointing character from start to finish. His motivations are never really explained, as he wants to rule the world but.....in his mind in order to rule the world he has to destroy it? Ya. Makes sense right? Why rule over a live civilization when you can rule over a dead one, amirite? But, for me, the biggest disappointment here is the loss of scale. There were several moments in Days of Future Past where the film really made you feel the actions that were happening on screen. There was actually a serious sense of dread and despair, something which does not happen at all in Apocalypse. What I'm trying to say is for me my biggest complaint with X-Men: Apocalypse was how.....by the numbers and ordinary it was. It felt like a pre-Dark Knight superhero film, where the villain is just a cardboard cutout bad guy who wants to destroy the world for some reason and our heroes are. of course, the only ones that can stop him. Throw in your humor to keep the audience entertained (which there's entirely too much of that here) and rinse and repeat. That's not what we got in the previous two installments in this new timeline. There was weight. There was gravitas. Here they completely destroy a major Egyptian city (like....to the point that there aren't even any extras running around in the final action sequences) but nobody talks about it. Not once does anyone address the fact that like Cairo or whatever has been totally and utterly destroyed with millions dead. That's not at all what we see in Days of Future Past or First Class. What happened, guys??
That said, it's not all bad. The acting, outside of Apocalypse (I really hope this doesn't torpedo Oscar Isaac's career because there really was nothing he could do with this material, internet) is fine. Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy are as charming as always and their scenes together, once again, provide some of the best scenes of the movie. Rose Byrne kills it in her criminally limited screen time, and newcomers Alexandra Shipp, Tye Sheridan, Kodi Smit-McPhee, and Sophie Turner are all fine but none of them really stand out. Olivia Munn.....man Olivia Munn cannot catch a break. She is such a talented actress and is once again completely wasted here. I've seen The Newsroom. I've seen what she can be. And we did not get that here. The big however though is this......Quicksilver basically saves this film from being rated any lower than it is. Evan Peters clearly has a blast with this character, and the writers were able to give him some of the funniest and most entertaining moments of the entire film in moments where we should actually expect this! His sequences alone are worth the price of admission. Least they're worth the price of a Redbox rental.
Ultimately, there's no doubt X-Men: Apocalypse is my biggest disappointment of the year so far. While it wasn't Batman V. Superman levels of incompetent, the film certainly left much to be desired, and the incredibly lackluster villain was the twisting of the knife. But it was the end credits sequence and the obvious setting up for a fourth-quel that was like rubbing salt on an already gaping wound. The seeds of corporate greed were already starting to shine through on this installment, and I fear it's only going to get worse from here. We may be witnessing one of the most disappointing falls from grace in the history of cinema for a franchise if that's the case. Please, Fox. Give creative rights of the X-Men franchise back to Marvel before you shame the X-Men like you did Fantastic Four. Please.
The Critique: A cardboard cutout villain, a messy and criminally light story, and an overall lack of gravitas make X-Men: Apocalypse the biggest disappointment of 2016 so far.
The Recommendation: Netflix or Redbox it. I know you still want to see but it's really not worth it. Patience.
Rewatchability: Moderately Low
The Verdict: 5/10 Painfully Average