Ben Hardy, Bryan Singer, Evan Peters, james mcavoy, Jennifer Lawrence, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Lucas Till, Michael Fassbender, Nicholas Hoult, Olivia Munn, Oscar Isaac, Rose Byrne, Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan
Directed by Bryan Singer, starring James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Oscar Isaac, Rose Byrne, Evan Peter, Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, Lucas Till, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Ben Hardy and Olivia Munn. The supposed first mutant, Apocalypse has risen and desires to rebuild the world for the strong while eradicating the weak.
I was incredibly apprehensive when I went to see this film, partly because I know the comics extensively and am therefore very aware of the character Apocalypse. The trailers and photos for this film presented his character as smaller in stature and with a voice a few octaves too high, which did not match my cemented image gained from the comics. Secondly, I feared that yet another apocalyptic themed X-Men film so soon after X-Men: Days of Future Past would lack the desired impact required for an end of the world film.
There a number of redeeming elements from the film that do work incredibly well, but after the first act has come to a close, those excelling components are diminished slightly by some flawed choices in characters and plot.
I do fully accept that owing to my vast knowledge of the source material I may be overly critical of the film, but it continually frustrates me when characters such as Psylocke and Angel are once again introduced in the third film of an X-men trilogy but are never explored in any great depth, other than brief hints for the fans like myself. This is particularly frustrating as the immensely talented Olivia Munn plays Psylocke, Munn is a highly intelligent and formidable actress who is woefully underused but who does her absolute best to utilise this character despite the very little material she is given.
Bryan Singer’s directive choices are interesting if overly ambitious, he is introducing for the first time the four horsemen of Apocalypse, but in doing so ceases to further develop their characters once they become so. While the argument can be made that they are effectively brainwashed soldiers to perform Apocalypse’s bidding; the frustration then arises owing to Singer’s intelligently profound initial use of Magneto and Storm which is far too quickly abandoned. Both narratives are compelling and brimming with potential that is squandered for a horsemen persona, particularly for Storm whose individual character and origin story has ever truly been explored, despite appearances nearly every X-Men film and as one of the pioneers of feminism in the comics.
Magneto’s narrative was by far the most effective and intelligently developed of the film, at least while he is in a non-horseman state. His story is emotional, driven and we feel empathy for him in a way that has not been touched upon before. It does seem as though Singer has chosen his Horsemen for their power and then subsequently abandons much of their personalities, barring a few scenes. This is quite disappointing for one such as myself who is aware of the potential of these characters that are yet again squandered in the third act.
Though much was made of the new X-Men, Jean, Cyclops, Nightcrawler and Jubilee (who has almost no screen times nor lines), they again feel very underused, particularly when we have already previously visited these characters. Cyclopes’ narrative initially feels tonally confusing though he does quickly adopt a leadership role. Nightcrawler, as the deeply religious teleporter, is effective though his material does feel simply regurgitated from Alan Cumming’s interpretation in X-Men 2, so though Kodi Smit-McPhee is excellent as the character, he, unfortunately, is given no new material to work with. Sophie Turner as a teenage Jean Grey learning her powers is wonderful to beyond and a much-needed re-imaging for Jean Grey as a character with a consistent American accent and an excellent reflection of her growing strength, my only frustration is how she is utilised in the third act.
One of the biggest weaknesses of the film for myself is Bryan Singer’s inability to balance both sides between the Horseman and the teenage X-Men. Neither are explored in a satisfying way which begs the argument, would the film not have been better to simply focus on just one group and then thoroughly develop them.
Oscar Isaac as Apocalypse is brilliant as the villain; there are a number of scenes where his intimidation and power can be felt. He is honestly unrecognisable as the villain and performing the role with a gravitas that is perfect for the character; however, this is undermined slightly by his slight stature and build combined with his almost rubbery appearance distracting from his very impressive performance, which is a shame.
Though it seems as if I have critised it because I did not enjoy it. The criticism is only there because Civil War preceeded it and presented a similair dynamic but with more succcess. As a indiviudal film it is still entertaining with some intellgient moments provided.
Quicksilver is by far the best character in this film and has the scene in the film. He is used as the comic relief of the narrative and between the use of his quips and the effectiveness in which Singer uses his powers of speed he cannot be undervalued. He quite easily puts The Avengers version of the character to absolute shame.
OVERALL *** It is a good X-Men film, but suffers from similar problems which affected X-Men: Last Stand and takes one too many cues from Harry Potter. Its biggest weakness, is Civil Wars strength, the ability to successfully balance a large number of characters on two teams by allowing each to have a moment and provide development.
RECOMMENDATION – Still a worthy X-Men film, and I may be addressing too many issues only for those equally invested in the comics.