The latest X-Men movie raises the stakes higher than ever – but does this make for a better film?
As our FFlashback series showed, the X-Men franchise has had its highs and lows , although the prequel films have twice knocked it out of the park. The pressure was on X-Men: Apocalypse, then, to match up to what has come before and not – as many have done previously – fall prey to that old superhero film curse; the bloated threequel.
So guess whether it managed it or not?
If you guessed that it did, you can have one more guess.
Yes, unfortunately, Apocalypse is a somewhat muddled movie. It is a classic example of a final film in a trilogy trying to up the ante by adding more in, only to dislodge what worked in the previous films in the process. It’s not The Last Stand, but it isn’t as far from that as you would like.
The greatest flaw of the movie is that Apocalypse sadly marks the return of mindless destruction forming the centre of a superhero film climax, as the second half of the movie revolves around the titular villain’s plan for, well, the apocalypse. This is only compounded by the fact that Oscar Isaac is wasted under a heavily-modulated voice and acres of blue make-up. It is unfair to compare the films at large, but Captain America: Civil War recently proved that focussing on the emotional conflict between the characters can work a whole lot better than endless spectacle. If only this film had decided to do something similar.
I really have to stress, however, that there is a lot to like about the film too. The young cast – including Tye Sheridan as Cyclops, Sophie Turner as Jean Grey and Kodi Smit-McPhee as Nightcrawler – certainly impress with what they get to do, and hopefully their roles will be increased next time around. Fans of Jennifer Lawrence of Mystique will also be pleased to see the character complete her journey from femme fatale in the original films to one of the heroes, as she has become a mutant pin-up since the events of Days of Future Past.
There are also two standout sequences from Apocalypse. One is another gem of a scene from Quicksilver, who is thankfully a firmer part of the team this time around. The other involves Magneto and how he has retired from supervillainy since last we saw him. It highlights a new side to the character that we haven’t seen before, in either incarnation, and it is one of the most moving sequences in the whole of the franchise. That Michael Fassbender is one magnetic performer.
All in all, this isn’t as a strong a closer to this trilogy of X-Men films as it could have been. Like Jean Grey actually says in the movie, we can all agree the third one is always the worst – though that doesn’t mean it is totally without merit. X-Men: Apocalypse was a little disappointing but it wasn’t, you know, the end of the world.