As excited as I was that Bryan Singer was back for his fourth run with the X-Men, not to mention bringing one of my favourite characters (Psylocke) to life on screen, after seeing X-Men: Apocalypse, my feelings are less enthusiastic.
It feels almost fruitless writing reviews for Marvel films — heck, nothing a reviewer says can stop me from watching comic characters kick ass and take names, and it shouldn’t stop you either — but I was left feeling a little disheartened after watching this one.
Set ten years after the events of the outstanding and ambitious Days of Future Past, X-Men: Apocalypse finds the world’s first ever mutant being brought back to life after being trapped under a pyramid for centuries. Displeased with the current state of the world, he recruits four horsemen (Ben Hardy as Angel, Alexandra Shipp as Storm, Olivia Munn as Psylocke, and Michael Fassbender as Magneto) to help him destroy it and “build a better one.” Naturally the more human-friendly mutants catch wind of the plan, and must come up with a way to stop him.
Upon learning that they were tackling Apocalypse for the latest film, I had high hopes for something very different, daring and potentially game-changing for the series. Instead, Oscar Isaac’s Apocalypse is a lackluster villain who unfortunately spends most of the film on a recruiting mission, which is a shame considering how damn talented Issac is. What really drove Apocalypse and what truly disgusted him about humanity was lost on me, mostly because they didn’t explore it at all.
Apocalypse, oddly enough, just wasn’t a particularly strong villain. He could barely handle the task at hand without help from his four horsemen, and even they didn’t seem fully on board with the plan. But that’s mainly where my beef with the film begins and ends.
But here’s what I did like: Kodi Smit-McPhee as Nightcrawler, Sophie Turner as Jean Grey, and Tye Sheridan as Cyclops. Baby faced and ready for battle, these young stars were wonderful as the young X-Men, stealing the show on more than one occasion.
Evan Peters made his return as fan favourite Peter Maximoff aka Quicksilver, using some old tricks to great effect, and bringing some well-timed humour into the mix. Alexandra Shipp and Olivia Munn were both equally fierce and alluring as Storm and Psylocke, but were criminally underused given their considerable powers.
Magneto/Erik Lensherr (Fassbender) was given a bit more to work with in terms of character progression than McAvoy’s Charles and Lawrence’s Raven/Mystique, having left his dark days behind in favour for an adorable daughter and loving wife. The bliss doesn’t last long of course, and looking back at the precise moment tragedy struck, the film could have had a stronger villain to contend with had they gone down that route with Magneto.
X-Men: Apocalypse doesn’t quite hit the spot like Days of Future Past and First Class did, but for fans of the franchise it’s worth a watch. Despite all my grievances, Singer has created a film that moves fast, hits hard with the action and handles some tender moments between our favourite characters with care. The Apocalypse just wasn’t earth-shattering enough for me.