Movie Review - X-Men: Apocalypse
By Matthew Huntley
June 6, 2016
Watching Apocalypse, I had to remind myself it takes place before the original X-Men trilogy that began in 2000 and that Xavier and company are the younger versions of these characters. We first met the fresh-faced individuals in First Class and they crossed over with their older counterparts in Days of Future Past. I'm not sure how many more installments we'll get from this current era, but it's just one of the ways director Bryan Singer and screenwriter Simon Kinberg keep things moving and add depth to the heroes' backstories.
On the whole, Apocalypse is mostly standard as far as superhero movies go, but there are few memorable scenes that allow it to stand out. One of these is the aforementioned tragedy involving Erik's wife and daughter in Poland. This scene proves once again that Fassbender is one of our most effective dramatic actors. Another is shared between Jean Grey and the most popular member of the X-Men, although I won't reveal any details. It's performed without dialogue and the filmmakers allow it to play out naturally so that it builds toward something surprisingly special and touching.
The movie isn't all serious and somber, though. There's a funny sequence involving Quicksilver (Evan Peters) as he uses his super speed ability to rescue various mutants from an explosion. This scene in particular has a lot of energy and pays off handsomely with some big laughs.
Where Apocalypse left me feeling empty and disappointed was with the titular figure himself. Apocalypse is a relatively dull villain whose motivations for world domination are all too routine for the superhero genre. He's mostly one note and the screenplay doesn't provide him a terribly original narrative that might explain why he wants to purge the Earth of humans in the first place, other than he's power-hungry. And the climactic battle between the two factions of heroes, which we essentially just saw in Captain America: Civil War, only better, is by-the-numbers in the sense that a lot of buildings, bridges, landmarks, etc. simple topple over as the world's leaders stand around awaiting orders and watch the events unfold live on their television monitors. We've seen this all before and it's getting old.
Still, as a mindless summer blockbuster, Apocalypse has more assets than liabilities. Like many of its brethren, it suffers from an excessive runtime, particularly with the ending, and it will likely fade from our memories faster rather than slower. But the newest character developments and more original moments are enough to fulfill us until the next adventure, which will hopefully develop a new formula altogether. This series, and the genre as a whole, could use one.