Review: X-Men: Apocalypse Feels Anti-Climatic But The Performances Make Up For It

Title: X-Men: Apocalypse
Director: Bryan Singer
Summary: With the emergence of the world’s first mutant, Apocalypse, the X-Men must unite to defeat his extinction level plan. — via imdb

The X-Men movies are a strange set of movies. It was the one-two-three combination of the first movie, Blade and Spider-Man that pulled the superhero genre back into the forefront of the popular culture. However, whenever I go back and watch the movie again it just doesn’t hold up by modern standards. For the time it was about as good as it could have been and X2 was better, so we got to call it great. Then X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine buried the entire franchise. I believe that Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class was the best of the movies thus far but replacing Vaughn with Bryan Singer for X-Men: Days of Future Past was not a good idea. I thought Days of Future Past was good but not great, and I was curious to see how Singer would do with this latest installment in the franchise.

X-Men: Apocalypse continues the series tradition of having great actors portraying their characters to a T, but lackluster action scenes and a general feeling of everything being anti-climactic brings down the entire movie.

X-Men: Apocalypse

A lot of people were worried about how Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) looked from the various pictures that have been coming out over the last year. I don’t blame anyone for that but I’m pleased to tell you that he looks much better in motion. Isaac does a great job moving around in that crazy costume, and despite how silly he might look the way he talks and moves immediately makes him feel dangerous. I’m not sure how comic accurate the explanation for his powers are but they make sense within the universe. The three unknown Horsemen are pretty good even if they don’t get a lot of development. Storm / Ororo Munroe (Alexandra Shipp) looks fantastic and the little bit of her character we get to know makes sense. Angel (Ben Hardy) and Psylocke (Olivia Munn) don’t fair as well. We don’t know much about who they are or what their motivations are which is is a shame because they could be interesting characters.

As far as the good guys go the new cast are all great. We get a great version of Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) who promises great things in the future. Scott Summers / Cyclops (Ty Sheridan) and Nightcrawler/ Kurt Wagner (Kodi Smit-McPhee) are both great additions to the new cast. The returning members are all comfortable in their roles by this point with the highlights still being Professor Xavier (James McAvoy) and Magneto / Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender). The two of them bring such interesting dynamics to these two characters that most people think of “all good” and “all bad.” Much like the previous movies we know that Magneto isn’t doing anything right but we can see where he is coming from. We know that the Professor’s heart is in the right place but he’s still fantastically arrogant and naive. Peter Maximoff / Quicksilver (Evan Peters) once again has the best scene in the movie, and while I’m not sure making Mystique / Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) into a good guy entirely works her motivations make sense within the character.

All of this should add up to a great movie but it all fell a little flat for me. The main problem I believe comes down to director Bryan Singer and that he really can’t direct action. The movie felt like it spent a lot time working its way down to the big showdown between the X-Men and Apocalypse, but by the time it rolled around it didn’t feel like the stakes were as high as they should have been. There was a large death toll in this movie but it never felt like the world was really in any danger of ending the way the movie kept telling us it was. There were a few good moments but it didn’t feel like everyone got to shine the way everyone did in the airport fight in Captain America: Civil War. The tone of the movie also felt very similar to the previous movies. The X-Men movies feel like they are in a holding pattern that they can’t seem to get out of. I’m not sure if a reboot is what’s needed but perhaps a new creative team could give this franchise the shake up it needs.

X-Men: Apocalypse is yet another good entry into the X-Men franchise. I still feel like the movies are holding back in some ways, as if they are reluctant to embrace their comic book counterparts. This cast, however, is too good to disband in a full reboot so perhaps a change in writers and director would be best. Perhaps someone else has a vision for the X-Men outside of Simon Kindberg and Bryan Singer and I think it’s time we saw that instead.

Also, no edit credits stinger during my screening.

Kaitlyn Booth
Kaitlyn Booth
Kaitlyn Booth is a writer, film critic, comic lover, and soccer fan based in Salt Lake City. She has covered such events as the Sundance Film Festival, San Diego Comic Con, and New York Comic Con and been a special guest and panelist at Salt Lake Comic Con and FanX. She has a deep fondness for female superheroes and independent film.