Well, it looks like those fan complaints about X-Men: Apocalypse may have been onto something. I’ll be checking out Bryan Singer’s latest X-Men blockbuster on Thursday and will have my full review up soon thereafter, but if for some reason you don’t trust me (C’mon! I have such a trustworthy face!) then you will be happy to know that the US review embargo lifted last night. And thus far it’s looking… well, there doesn’t appear to be a clear consensus at all really. It’s a miXed bag, if you will.
Here’s a sampling of what the critics are saying thus far.
Ultimately, it feels like each of the film’s set pieces is a modular thing, complete unto itself, interchangeable… I also feel like Apocalypse is a bit of a dud as an actual character. Isaac feels buried in the prosthetic make-up, and much of what he talks about is this generic villainspeak talk about cleansing and revenge and power. It’s a shame, because when he’s used right, Isaac can be terrific.
So, yeah, what works best is the individual moments. Fans of the films and/or the comics will all find lots of little nods and callbacks that should make them happy. There are some key moments that fans will want to discuss and dissect in fine detail, which is always a good sign.
If you’ve seen one cinematic apocalypse, you’ve seen them all. At least that’s the feeling conjured by “X-Men: Apocalypse,” the latest entry in one of the more reliable comic-book franchises around, this time disappointingly succumbing to an exhausting case of been-there-done-that-itis.
Although the “X-Men” ensembles are usually large, there are simply too many characters for the action-heavy “Apocalypse” to properly juggle. It’s easy to forget even McAvoy or Fassbender when they’re off screen for too long, and the film functions best when it lets the fresh young trio of Sheridan, Turner and Smit-McPhee take center stage. Still, it’s [Evan Peters’s Quicksilver] who emerges as the cast standout in just a handful of scenes, by bringing an offbeat sensibility to a production that otherwise plays campy cartoon material a little too straight.
The idea of an apocalypse means every dial has to be turned up to 11 and this film certainly provides bangs for your buck, although there is less space for the surreal strangeness of the X-Men to breathe, less dialogue interest, and they do not have the looser, wittier joy of the Avengers. But the more playful episodes with Cyclops and Quicksilver are welcome and everything hangs together. But in the future X-Men films have to mutate into something with fewer characters and more characterization.
As a conclusion to a trilogy, Apocalypse falls somewhat short. It marginalises key relationships in favour of establishing new ones, and lacks the depth and distinctive historical flavour of its immediate predecessors. But taken as the next chapter in the series, Apocalypse is an undeniably fun and entertaining adventure and does a pretty good job of establishing Xavier’s next class.
Let’s start with some honesty from the heart. The last X-Men film (Days of Future Past/DOFP) was a step back from X-Men: First Class. You may not agree… This film is leagues above DOFP in terms of story, character development, visuals, AND there is some amount of closure. The most exciting part of X-men: Apocalypse is that now we have wrapped up the origin stories and we have our key players back.
When the film was announced 2014, worldwide destruction was promised and it seemed too good to be true. That promise is kept, “Thank you, Bryan Singer.” It’s such a large film, and it makes any damage done to cities or countries in a previous comic book movie seem inconsequential. Things drag a little towards the end of the second act, but take about four minutes to run to the bathroom when things slow down. Don’t take too long or you’ll miss an old friend. That being said, X-Men: Apocalypse is why people buy popcorn for a movie. It’s a big show, and incredibly fun.
13 years later, the X-Men are bigger, and the effects used to bring their powers to life are even more convincing. But what’s missing at this point is that sense of awe and wonder from those early days. For all the fighting and blasting and bamfing, we’ve seen it all before — sometimes literally.
This is Bryan Singer’s fourth X-Men film — the third installment in the second trilogy of summer blockbusters about the first generation of super-powered mutants who have outed themselves to the general population — and it unfolds like he’s pouring all of his excess ambitions for the franchise into his last chance at bat. If nothing else, the spectacularly goofy and sporadically entertaining “Apocalypse” isn’t afraid to reimagine human history.[But] the heroes here are almost a complete afterthought, and the performances of the actors who play them tend to follow suit (who knew Jennifer Lawrence could be so listless?)… The bad guys fare a tiny bit better. Apocalypse naturally has four horseman — horsepeople, really — and they’re interesting enough for roles that exist for no other reason other than to provide some violent white noise during the final battle.
On paper, Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Apocalypse is ostensibly about an ancient super-mutant wiping clean the sins of mankind and a new generation embracing their destiny. On screen, however, it turns out to be about a franchise taking a giant step backwards. After the rejuvenated one-two punch of 2011’s First Class and 2014’s Days of Future Past, there was reason to expect better. A lot better. ButApocalypse feels like a confused, kitchen-sink mess with a half dozen too many characters, a villain who amounts to a big blue nothing, and a narrative that’s so choppy and poorly cut together that it feels like you’re watching a flipbook instead of a movie.
Singer’s take on the material has always put character and theme at the center, giving us interesting people grappling with issues that felt recognizable in the real world, and never at the expense of thrilling action or wildly imaginative set pieces.
With “X-Men: Apocalypse,” however, Singer seems to have acquired a new mutant power of his own: monotony. Whether it’s the lack of an interesting villain, or the fact that the series’ time-travel element is forcing these mutants to meet each other (and the audience) all over again for the first time, this latest entry marks a shocking letdown from Singer’s earlier contributions; what once soared now slogs.
Narratively jumbled and jammed with so many characters that you give up keeping them all straight while simultaneously lamenting not seeing more of those you might actually want around, Bryan Singer’s fourth entry in the enormously profitable series he inaugurated 16 years ago undeniably builds to a cataclysmic dramatic reckoning. But mostly it just feels like a bloated if ambitious attempt to shuffle as many mutants and specially gifted characters as possible into a story of a resurrected god ready to take over the world.
Despite the undeniable presence of a huge amount of action, X-Men: Apocalypse is decidedly a case of more is less, especially when compared with the surprising action and more interesting personal interactions (including the temporary subtraction of some characters) in other big Marvel franchises.
Well, that doesn’t bode well… Or it does. Really, I’m not too sure right now, but I will be posting my own take on it in just a couple of days.
X-Men: Apocalypse releases locally on 20 May 2016.
Last Updated: May 10, 2016