Had X-Men: Apocalypse been released in 2006, it would have been hailed as a cinematic breakthrough – the greatest comic book movie ever made, defining an era. I wouldn’t be writing this review right now, as I would still be glued to the cinema seat, watching the movie for the 700th time, body perished in hunger and over-ejaculation. In an era where comic book movies were a dime a dozen, all I wanted to see was my favourite superheroes take on my friends’ favourite superheroes and/or a big baddie. A half decent story line and half-baked characters would have been excusable so long as I got to witness 4th of July fireworks and World War 2 type destruction, ala superpowers.
But this is NOT 2006. Comic book movies? Bitch please, we have comic book UNIVERSES! Original movies are an endangered species. So much so that a movie about a bearded man rolling around in snow for two hours received 12 Oscar nominations, and won three of them – best leading actor, best director and best cinematography – in the name of art.
This is 2016 baby! We’ve already seen beautiful superhero explosions and first time team-ups in Avengers (Not Age of Ultron). People want more. Churning out comic book movies with HALF DECENT story lines and HALF-BAKED characters ain’t gonna fly anymore. Unfortunately, just like Batman v Superman earlier this year, that’s exactly what X-Men: Apocalypse is. The benchmark is at an all-time high and my feelings are at an all-time low. I’m a sad man right now, typing this review with a heavy heart.
While others’ most anticipated movie of the year was Batman v Superman or Captain America: Civil War, mine was X-Men: Apocalypse. The previous X-Men movie, X-Men: Days of Future Past is one of my favourite comic book movies of all time, right up there with the recently released, absolutely brilliant, Civil War, only lower than the movie that 8 years in, still gives me wet dreams – The Dark Knight.
Naturally, I had very high expectations for X-Men: Apocalypse. And hey, the opening sequence of the movie, introducing Apocalypse + opening credits sequence + best comic book movie theme song, was nothing short of ORGASMIC. I looked at my friend with a huge smile on my face and two thumbs up, Borat style, thinking to myself, “This is gonna be THE BEST SHIT EVER!” Then I remembered Batman v Superman – which also had an opening sequence that was THE BEST SHIT EVER, only for the rest of the movie to be anything but – and decided to keep my boner under control. To no avail, I might add. Cause this is X-Men and my heart was racing.
Next up, introducing everyone else. Tye Sheridan’s Cyclops, actually feels like an actual character. Unlike the just-a-pretty-boy characterless character played by James Marsden in the original trilogy, Cyclops is engaging here. It’s kinda hard to picture him as the future leader of the X-Men just yet, but watching him develop as a character is gonna be fun. The introduction of young Jean Grey is nicely executed as well. While Famke Jensen did a fine job, Sophie Turner is infinitely better and more badass, very much like her Game of Thrones character (not season 1 to 5). Plus, she and Tye Sheridan have great chemistry, something they absolutely needed to have. So far, so good.
The same can be said for Storm (Alexandra Shipp), who actually looks like she can kick some ass and not just show her ass, like Halle Berry. No wait, I’m thinking of Monster’s Ball. Halle Berry didn’t even show her ass in the original trilogy, rendering her completely useless. Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee)? Although nowhere near as enthralling as the opening of X2: X-Men United, this Nightcrawler intro, taking place in a cage fight, was entertaining in its own right. But the best has got to be the introduction of Magneto. Without spoiling anything, I will say that there is a scene, at the start, that literally made me flinch and gasp. Michael Fassbender is brilliant. No wait, that’s the second best. THE BEST is of course, Quicksilver (Evan Peters). Holy sheeeeeeet! Forget the mindblowing Quicksilver scene in Days of Future Past. The Quicksilver scene here, that takes place in Professor X’s mansion, WILL DESTROY YOUR MIND AND TURN IT INTO MASH POTATO!
And then, everything slowly goes downhill. It’s as if Simon Kinberg (screenplay) and Bryan Singer (director + story ideas) were suffering from writer’s block but decided to scribble some bullshit down anyway. After about 45 minutes to an hour in, the movie’s passion decided to take a vacation, and left us with a soulless, bland string of events, which led to the climax. I’m okay with a cliché storyline as long as the storytelling is intriguing. And boy was this a cliché story, MINUS the intrigue. Blue guy wants to destroy the world; good guys must stop him. THE END. I know, it’s a comic book movie, I shouldn’t be expecting Citizen Kane, and I’m not. But take a look at some of the previous X-Men movies (including The Last Stand, excluding Wolverine Origins), all of which are social commentaries on LGBT, racism, politics, self-discovery and war. While the MCU was busy destroying buildings and levitating cities, the X-Men franchise focused on personal stories with good to great acting (shut up, Halle Berry doesn’t count).
Well, that ship has sailed, as Bryan Singer and Simon Kinberg decided that they, too, would like to make shit explode. And make shit explode they did. This has quite possibly one of the worst climax sequences in a comic book movie. It’s just meaningless action for the sake of meaningless action. And believe you me, it doesn’t even look good. It’s not like Bryan Singer is incapable of filming action sequences. The action sequences that take place in the “future” in X-Men: Days of Future Past were well choreographed and filmed beautifully. Here, it’s all just one big colourful SPLAT! Not saying that it’s complete garbage. There are moments in the anti-climatic sequence that stand out. The internal mind games between Professor X, Apocalypse and Jean Grey was done in such a unique way, it almost made me forgive the colourful mess that precedes it. Quicksilver trying to up Apocalypse is also worth mentioning. Oh, who am I kidding. It’s mostly just SPLAT.
The reason the climax doesn’t work isn’t just about how it looks, but because everything that comes after the first hour of the movie is layerless nonsense. The movie is called X-Men: APOCALYPSE. The entire crappy plot is solely “Blue guy wants to destroy the world.” So, for this poorly written script to even have a small chance of working, blue guy needed to be great. The problem is, blue guy is RUBBISH! Not ordinary rubbish, but rubbish mixed with rotten rat jizz. We always complain about the plethora of shitty villains puked out by the MCU. No, Fox will have none of that. Apocalypse takes the cookie. But wait, it’s not just Apocalypse. Apocalypse played by Oscar Isaac, the best actor of this generation! To be fair, it’s not his fault Apocalypse sucks. Again, it’s the writing.
I can’t express this enough: we LITERALLY learn nothing about his character except he’s blue and wants to destroy the world. Why does he need four horsemen? Why not five, ten or one hundred? Why not an army? He only takes two seconds to convince them to join him anyway. Oh and btw, this supposed God (more like a fucking Teletubby) doesn’t actually scout his four horsemen. He doesn’t look for individuals with a unique skill set to fit his agenda, nor does he look for individuals whom he believes could be loyal. He just sorta stumbles into them thanks to sheer dumb luck. Apparently Magneto is essential to his “destroying the world” plan, but what if he didn’t come across Magneto? Would he have asked Storm to change the earth’s climate drastically and destroyed the earth via global warming? *facepalm*
It is important to note that I love Olivia Munn’s tits. I really do. I’ve never actually read the comics, but I’m pretty damn sure Psylocke’s character traits doesn’t stop at “amazing boobs.” Surely it’s “amazing boobs and *something else*.” Well, the movie ignores the something else completely. Because all she does in the movie is walk around in a swimsuit, showing ample cleavage. Fun fact: Apocalypse gives the other three horsemen cool armour, but gave Psylocke less clothes to wear. So I guess he’s not just a Teletubby, he’s also extremely horny. Want to know something funny? Olivia Munn turned down the role of Vanessa, from Deadpool in favour of this, because she didn’t want to be seen as just a pretty face. How ironic.
Don’t even get me started on Jennifer Lawrence. Talking about it will probably give me cancer. She’s surprisingly, horrible. JLaw has a “I don’t give a shit” poker face on from start till end and almost every line she delivers is borderline cringeworthy. She has said in interviews that she isn’t really interested in playing the character anymore, and it shows through her acting. My favourite male actor and one of my favourite female actors in the same movie, FAILING together. Yeap, time to go for chemo.
Dude, I don’t wanna end this review on a bad note because I love X-Men, a lot. So, I’ll be optimistic. Maybe everything was done in this manner because Bryan Singer has his eyes on building a big X-Men Universe. New Mutants, Deadpool 2 and a new Wolverine movie are already in the works, along with the rumoured X-Force movie and a new X-Men movie which could possibly take place in outer space. If that’s the case, this movie does serve as a fine launching pad. Oh wait, I just remembered, New Mutants is gonna be written and directed by Josh Boone, the man who helmed The Fault in Our Stars, so it could quite possibly be an absolute shit fest. Oh, look, there’s the pessimist again. Goodbye.