Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Inexplicable Movie Review – X-Men: Apocalypse (is meh)

Still the best version.

Note: Spoilers follow for X-Men: Apocalypse.

The general critic consensus on X-Men: Apocalypse has seemingly been a big “meh,” which as I reflect on how the movie sits with me, I can’t disagree with. While it was a fun flick to watch in the moment, it’s one of those movies I’m probably not ever going to feel the need to see again.

The “problem” is that there are so many good to very good superhero movies now that something just OK like Apocalypse easily slips through the cracks. It doesn’t reboot the series or offer fun twists on the superhero movie like First Class and Days of Future Past did. And, it’s not a really competent continuation of a series like Captain America: Civil War was.

Instead, Apocalypse feels like a throwback to older comic book movies, ones that largely squandered some really cool ideas with bloat. In both the animated series and the comic books, Apocalypse the villain is one of the X-Men teams’ greatest foes, mixing a combination of immortality and advanced technology to be a persistent thorn. However, in the movie he’s seemingly reduced in power – he doesn’t even grow in size – and scant attention is paid to his background beyond “he’s old and from Egypt!”

When it comes to the X-Men, the cast is just getting a bit too unwieldly. It’s tough to care about the budding romance between (a surprisingly not crappy) Cyclops and Jean Grey when they both barely get screen time. Likewise, the 23rd hour unleashing of Jean Grey’s Phoenix power seems rushed. I thought they were setting something up for a future movie, instead of using it as a plot cudgel in this one.

Of the recent X-Men movies, First Class worked the best to me because it had the smallest cast. There was a sharper focus to all of the characters, which was wonderful, since it meant plenty of standout scenes with Professor X and Magneto. Of course, the elephant in the room – Jennifer Lawrence has been given a bigger role in each new movie, but her character isn’t really that interesting. It’s like the creators of these movies realized that she had become a Big Effing Star, and gave her more screen time, but didn’t really work on the quality of what she had to work with.

Anyway. If you like superhero movies, then this is a perfectly capable, but not fantastic, superhero movie. It’s certainly better than those dreary Superman movies, but Guardians of the Galaxy, The Avengers and Captain America’s solo movies are all better entry points than the X-Men series as a whole.

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