X-Men: Apocalypse and its 21 mutants may have become a little too cluttered and clichéd at times, but the heart of the story and its phenomenal cast help it prevail.
(This review contains spoilers)
Anyone calling it "dull and bloated" or "deflated" is off the mark, though. We're 10 years removed from the events of Days of Future Past, the world knows about mutants, but it's not that people aren't afraid of them still, it's just that they're polite about it.
It's a movie that captures the 80s, gives its star a chance to usher in a new era and, hell, we get resurrections, body transfers, awesome inner-mind fights and Flock of Seagulls. We also get another visually satisfying helping of Quicksilver. Seriously, other than James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, Evan Peters is the star of the show.
At its worst, X-Men: Apocalypse just feels like an extended trailer as the franchise dips into the "next" generations of mutants. At its best, X-Men: Apocalypse highlights all of the best aspects of the characters with grace, amazing visuals and emotional storytelling.
It features an immortal, God-like supervillain who is reawakened by some of his devout followers. Once En Sabah Nur wakes, he is focused on finding four mutants to team with, make stronger and "cleanse" the Earth with. More on him later, though.
While it's understandable Bryan Singer and Co. want to try and introduce new actresses and actors, this movie succeeds most when the emotional, deep and intricate relationship between Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr is at the forefront.
McAvoy and Fassbender demand attention and leave audiences wanting, even more, interaction between the two. At its core, these film franchise -- including the original trilogy -- has been powered by these two characters.
Their strengths, weakness, desires, fears and beliefs constantly clashing in an insanely fascinating level. One trying to bring humans and mutants together in a peaceful manner while the other is constantly at battle with himself and inner-demons.
That skeleton structure is still in place, and instead of powering this movie it instead served as a safety net when it tried to fall flat. There are 21 mutants highlighted in this flick with much of the focus centering on Jean Grey, Scott Summers and Raven Darkhölme (Mystique).
We get a sort of origins story of Jean and Scott, and I must say, I enjoyed the work of Sophie Turner and Tye Sheridan exponentially. The 19-year-old actor and 20-year-old actress have an impressive on-screen chemistry, which bids very, very well for the future of this franchise.
Speaking of bright spots, I hope to see much more of Alexandra Shipp, who portrayed one hell of an intriguing Storm. We get little tastes here and there, but unfortunately, the character doesn't amount to much other than an evil pawn until about the last 10 minutes of the 2 hour and 26-minute movie.
SPEAKING OF BRIGHT SPOTS, Weapon X gets some love. That's all I'll say. It was well done and immediately connected Jean and Logan in a satisfying way with a clever quip from Scott.
While it's more of the same between Mystique, Magneto and the Professor, it at least takes a step in any direction at the end of the movie with Mystique's Katniss Everdeen emotional speech to close the movie.
As for some of the cons, the 21 mutants are not only battling to save the Earth, but for screen time. Olivia Munn doesn't do much other than superhero poses, superhero landing and awkwardly walking away. That was disappointing not only as someone interested in what she could bring to the table, but as a fan of the character, Psylocke.
We only get to see Jubilee's outfit and see the student. Nothing in action or anything like that, not even a hint at her powers. Screen Rant reports that a deleted scene would have taken care of that, but 21 mutants and more than 150 minutes ... so yeah.
My main issue with Apocalypse is the fact that every scene he shares with Magneto, he feels like a secondary character and not the main threat and/or villain. We know he is immortal, basically a God and potentially the first mutant, but there's something missing.
Maybe it's the fact that his plan is a little too damned cliched. Immortal soul goes to sleep. Immortal soul wakes up. Immortal soul wants to cleanse the Earth. Immortal soul fails.
That's essentially the skeleton structure of this plot. There aren't any themes as there were in Days of Future Past or the first two installments of the series in the early 2000s. It's a simple plot, it's a simple structure and you're never going to build a proper villain with that blueprint.
I would have liked to see a tease or anything between Apocalypse and Scott or his family. I would have liked a more satisfying fight scene as it was pretty much just the big bad dude in a sphere until Jean unleashes her power.
It's one of those rare slow starts/fast finish payoff scene.
In conclusion, this movie is much better than it's getting credit for. It has a phenomenal cast and a steady, venerable leader who doesn't let it steer too far off the path. It's worth seeing, as it's movie most comic book fans will enjoy. Heck, it's a movie that the comic book movie fans will enjoy.
It has visually appealing action, my entire "freebie list" top three and there is enough mix of humor, drama and action to keep anyone plugged in. We also get the origin story of Xavier's bald head.
For those who missed Jon's spoiler-free review, check it out:
If that above tweet doesn't speak volumes about the freaking cinematic world we live in, nothing will.