Star Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
The original X-Men trilogy, although a superhero film, made it a point to say something about the world around us. There were underlying themes in each of the films about the outcast individual and his or her place in society, specifically those with different lifestyles. We see two dichotomous opinions about this personified with Charles Xavier and Magneto where one believes humans and mutants should live in harmony, while the other believes humans have no place in a mutant future. When Matthew Vaughn started a trilogy of X-Men prequels with X-Men: First Class, he took those themes of belonging and added a historical element to the story where the X-Men had involvement with the Cuban Missile Crisis. This historical element carried over to its sequel, X-Men: Days of Future Past, where the series also tried to reconcile inconsistencies between the first trilogy and this new series of X-Men films. Days of Future Past brought together the new faces with a majority of the old faces and wove a story through time that culminated in an assassination attempt on the creator of the Sentinels and the President of the United states. Another plot point in Days of Future Past included Magneto involved with the assassination of JFK. Like First Class, history was almost a character itself in the way the various X-Men interacted with it in the films. It added a unique layer to the story to see the X-Men have direct involvement with these real life historical events. This summer brought us X-Men: Apocalypse, which tried its hardest to continue the decade hopping theme of the first two films, only this time it failed miserably.
The film takes place a decade after the events of X-Men: Days of Future Past. It follows Magneto (Michael Fassbender), Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), and Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and quickly brings the viewer up to speed with what each character has been doing since the last film. Magneto is in hiding after publicly trying to kill the president and a bunch of people in Days of Future Past, Mystique is helping “save” mutants by rescuing them from underground mutant fights, and Xavier is doing what he does best, schooling mutants and teaching them how to use their powers for good while also sharing the world with normal humans. In Egypt the worlds oldest mutant (Apocalypse, played by Oscar Isaac) awakes from a hundred (thousand?) year slumber beneath the city. Apocalypse then assembles his four horsemen of the apocalypse (get it?) to take over the world and kill humans so that mutants can be the dominant race on the planet. Xavier and his X-Men take on Apocalypse because they believe that the world should be shared between mutants and humans.
With all of the superhero/comic book film we are inundated with every year, I did not think it was possible to make one with a more generic story. This film takes all of the things that made the previous two films great and completely ignores them for cheap rehashes from the previous films. The previous films brought us antagonists who were less concerned with destroying the world and more focused on letting the world destroy itself. Apocalypse is different in that he literally sets off the bomb to destroy humanity, and then shoots it into space. I guess this is because he wants to destroy humanity himself using the first four mutants he finds, and then rebuilt the world in his image. Instead of finding creative ways to incorporate the mutants into historical events, this film incorporates as much fan service as possible. They tried their hardest to recreate the Quicksilver scene from the first film, but with more lives on the line and significantly less humor. Theres even a Wolverine cameo that gets shoehorned into the middle of the film.
There are few redeeming qualities about this film, I like most other nerds, thought Apocalypse looked terrible when the first images of him surfaced on the internet. In the film, it wasn’t as terrible as it first appeared, although it was still pretty bad. If he is supposed to be one of the X-Men’s greatest enemies, he should be more visually and physically impressive like the comics have depicted him. The throwaway line about why Jennifer Lawrence doesn’t walk around with her blue skin easily undermines the cornerstone of her character from the last two films and her actions in this film go against everything her character stood for in the past two films. Her attraction to Magneto was his encouragement to be herself when Xavier told her to hide her true self so that she belonged. Even at the end of Days of Future Past, it seemed as if Mystique was still on Magneto’s side, even if she did stop him from killing Nixon.
The new mutants introduced, Jean Grey, Nightcrawler, Jubilee, and Scott Summers, somehow become instant friends because of a mall trip that occurs off screen. So little time is devoted to these characters they are less characters and more living plot developments. They contribute so little to the overall film that they could have been skipped over entirely and it wouldn’t have changed a thing. In fact, without them, we could have avoided the unnecessary Wolverine Cameo. Quicksilver was the one character from Days of Future Past I wanted to carry over into more X-Men films, and even his pretense in this film was lacking everything that made his character good in the previous film
X-Men: Apocalypse is a bad film. The summer of 2016 was a bad season for blockbuster franchises. Instead of providing us with an interesting story that build upon the mythos of Apocalypse and incorporating that into history, we got a generic, villain wants to rule the world story. With Deadpool having significantly less money and resources and still being a better film, Fox better find a way to course correct, and they better do it soon.