Hello again gentle readers and welcome back to this week’s finale, a look at the final instalment of the rebooted X-Men trilogy courtesy of the ever talented Mr Brian (Pub) Singer.
As you may have guessed we rushed out to see the new X-Men: Apocalypse film on its day of release with blue furry facemasks on (our standard cinema going outfit tbh) and couldn’t wait to share our thoughts on this particular end of an era with you guys on the blog. So, as usual if you have a SPOILERS allergy you may want to turn away from the page now and lather on some antihistamines in the privacy of your own bedroom because we intend to take no prisoners with this entry.
X-Men: Apocalypse. Grandstanding climax that bucks the trend of sucky threequels or three month-old limp biscuit you’d find at the back of the kitchen cupboard?
Well. The answer is Neither. Not completely. But to be totally honest the biggest feeling we were left with was disappointment after watching the film. And why? What about the blockbuster Part Trois was the cause of such acute dissatisfaction? Well, from the very first moment of an opening-credits sequence that chucked out the simplicity of the previous entries and instead aimed for more of a hypnotic Technicolor eye-fest, something became incredibly clear. And that was the movie’s intention to favour spectacle over heart. Glory over soul.
That it chose to walk the very path that torpedoed Brett Ratner’s X Men III last time around.
Not convinced? If you want specifics then you don’t really need to look any further than the opening scene in ancient Egypt. It’s a dramatic opener no doubt, with lavish sets and grand action, forcing the narrative into motion with aplomb. But the way it’s lit, bathed in garish gold and blue shades actually serves to make it seem… kind of, uh brassy? Dare we say even a little… lame? If you contrast it with the most emotional scenes in the movie, the smaller ones that detail Erik’s story (and coincidentally offer a lovely little chance to relive some of the previous X-Men movie scenes) you notice that these moments are shot completely differently; in grainy and grimy realism. They feel lived in and honest. Raw. Documented. And in comparison the rest of the film with all of its loud glossy palettes actually seems lurid more often than not.
Even Oscar Isaac’s En Sabah Nur suffers from the same disease- his look and portrayal feeling inadequate most of the damn time. Don’t get us wrong, he’s compelling when on screen, how could the great Apocalypse not be? But the combination of Isaac’s impenetrable make up and subdued performance never seemed to quite gel enough. After all, the character is supposed to be seductive, right? Tempting; offering as he does an ultimate kind of power. But instead of being tactile and seductive, his stilted movements and passive tone of voice in fact come across as muted. Too low key to be truly threatening.
And then there are his followers; supposedly the most powerful of all the mutants! We don’t want to be harsh here but clearly that’s just not true. Olivia Munn’s Psylocke while visually cool is almost forgettable and barely has any screentime. Her costume too is stereotypically slutty which is something we thought would have gone by the board in these post modernist times. Same goes for Angel and Havok as well. Even Storm fares little better. Alexandra Shipp’s acting is good but like all the other Guardians her character is woefully underdeveloped. Able to be moulded for sure (which might have been one of the reasons why Apocalypse picked her) but also naive and prone to get lost in the shuffle. And plot hole alert…if Nur’s searching for the most powerful mutants alive why on earth would he not go straight for Sophie Turner’s Jean Grey? Other mutants can sense how potent she is including mentor Charles Xavier so how did that slip past the mind of great and powerful Egyptian God?! And on that note, how exactly does the good guys metal warplane just sneak past Magneto when he’s in full on earth-destroying metal-bending mode when they’re making their final play?
There are bright spots of course. The acting is generally good. Overall the movie is entertaining enough to not be considered a failure by the masses. Quiksilver once again is an absolute delight; Evan Peter’s big scene where he saves a buttload of school kids from a mind-blowing explosion is both beautiful and worth every second of celluloid spent on it. And damn, the rewritten backdrop of a world where humans have grown up with complete knowledge of mutants is also a fascinating twist on proceedings. It has to be noted too that Charles and Erik’s relationship is the backbone of the story as ever, the inclusion of repeated (quotetastic) lines from the previous films giving their own personal war a sense of weight and compassion. Something that is sorely missing from the majority of proceedings.
But the overarching problem as a movie maker is that when you favour spectacle over humanity, you risk losing an audience’s attention fairly quickly. And when you decide to shear off the sharp edges of fan favourites like Mystique, turning them into bland uninspiring versions of their previous (bad girl) selves you only make things ten times worse. Meaning that last minute betrayals and switches of allegiance in the plot become cheap. Predictable.
And as we said The Last Stand was guilty of this. It’s unfortunate then that for the most part Apocalypse follows the same trend.
So to the big questions…
Like was it diverting? Well, yep it was.
Entertaining? For sure.
But in terms of adding to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and cementing the franchise as a celluloid changing experience… just not so much.
We wish we had better news guys. We really wanted to like Apocalypse. And we did. We just didn’t love it; not the way we expected to. But you guys will have to make up your own minds on this of course. So drop us a line with your thoughts. Your criticisms. Send us Hate mail. Or razor blades in the belly of a snake. Whatever you feel’s appropriate. (Please don’t do the snake thing though.)
We’ll be right here waiting for August’s Suicide Squad to come out with our Harley Quinn diamond tights on ready.