X-Men: Apocalypse Review: The Ooze is Back, Oh Wait…
X-Men: Apocalypse opens in Ancient Egypt where En Sabah Nur’s (Oscar Isaac) body is being transferred into another person. During the transference, the pyramid comes under attack and begins to collapse. While this is going on, one of Sabah Nur’s followers, to ensure Nur’s safety forms a forcefield around him as the pyramid collapses entirely. Nur’s body remains buried until the year 1983 when it is mistakenly found and set free by a group of religious men praying. Once awoken, Nur begins to learn about how the world has changed and is beyond unhappy with the changes that have taken place. Nur quickly begins to recruit various powerful mutants to work alongside him as he plans to destroy humanity and restart a new world under his rule.
Apocalypse is the 8th feature length film in the X-Men franchise and one with a very high level of expectations from fans. While the franchise has had its fair share of highs (X2 & First Class) and lows (X-Men: The Last Stand/X-Men Origins), the X-Men are undoubtably unique and interesting characters that are loved by comic book fans and film fans alike. I would even dare to say that outside of Batman and Deadpool, the X-Men gang is my favorite superhero franchise.
After being blown away by First Class and really liking Days of Future Past, I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I had really high expectations for this next installment. Apocalypse is unfortunately a letdown in comparison to the two previous entries but don’t worry, its not all doom and gloom. There are still plenty of good things to be said about this entry but there are some bad things as well.
With that being said, I have two major complaints with Apocalypse and several other minor issues most of which will kind of reveal themselves while talking about the major issues. The first thing that bugged me about the film was how unbalanced it is. In certain scenes, the acting is stellar, the special effects look amazing, and the story is engrossing. In other scenes, the acting is hokey, the special effects seem rather cheap looking, and the story comes off as campy and silly.
Take Sophie Turner as Jean Grey for instance. There are some scenes where Turner really shows off how talented she is but then there are other moments where her performance just comes off as awkward and wooden. Another good example of this is Tye Sheridan as Scott Summers. While I think Sheridan wasn’t the ideal choice for the role, there are times where he shined and others that seemed awkward and that he was trying way too hard to play the part.
The truth is there are several great moments in Apocalypse that typically offset most of the weak ones including a scene of Quicksilver in action as well as a scene featuring Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) and his wife and daughter in the woods. The scene in the woods was without a doubt the strongest scene in the entire film. This scene also pretty much confirms why Fassbender is considered one of the best actors working today. In fact, almost every scene with Fassbender’s Erik/Magneto is well crafted and so perfectly acted that it seemed like it belonged in another film.
Moving into my second issue which basically coincides with my first issue is Oscar Issac as Apocalypse/En Sabah Nur. I hate to be on the “he looks like Ivan Ooze” bandwagon but he really does. When his character comes back in 1983, I honestly couldn’t help but say in my head, “the Ooze is back!” What makes it even worse is that I actually liked the character Ivan Ooze more than I liked Apocalypse as a character. In all honestly, I think Issac was a complete and total miscast here and Singer’s take on this character was far too campy for its own good. Issac couldn’t pull this off and instead his performance came off as forced and awkward. I really thought the character would grow on me over time but the more I watched the film, the more I felt like Issac and his portrayal of Apocalypse brought the film down a few notches. His scenes also messed with the overall tone of the film.
Some other minor issues: Storm has an accent in this film which kind of seems out of place and inconsistent with the other films in this franchise. If I remember correctly, Storm (Halle Berry) kind of had an accent in Singer’s first X-Men but then for some reason didn’t have one in any of the other afterwards. I also need to point out that it was kind of obvious that this was going to be the last time Jennifer Lawrence was going to play the role Raven because she looked totally bored and uninterested in almost every single scene she was in. Olivia Munn is underused and rather disappointing as Psylocke. Its not like Munn doesn’t look and fit the part but rather the script seems to require very little from her other than to stare off into space and look angry. I like Munn as an actress but this script gave her nothing to work with.
Most of the scenes featuring Kodi Smit-McPhee‘s Kurt Wagner/Nightcrawler are humorous and highly engrossing. Smit-McPhee’s take on this character works as the perfect addition to the story and cast. Out of all the new actors, I do believe that Smit-McPhee was the biggest surprise of the bunch. Alexandra Shipp‘s take on Storm was pretty bad ass and I did love what she brought to the table with the character. I could have done without the accent like I mentioned above but other than that she was pretty spot on. I should also mention that James McAvoy still kills it as Charles Xavier. I always dug him in this role and would be happy to see a standalone film with him as the professor.
Singer’s direction was rather hit and miss. A director should notice when he isn’t getting the best of his actors and as I pointed out earlier some of the cast came off as bored and uninterested. I think the film’s pacing isn’t as strong as Days of Future’s Past either. The film’s 144 minute runtime isn’t as noticeable here as it is in some of the other superhero films but you can definitely feel the length at times due to Singer’s unbalanced direction. There are a few scenes in Apocalypse that seem similar or like inspired renditions of scenes from previous X-Men films mainly the Magneto floatation scene and the Quicksilver one. These scenes were still good here but not as effective as say Days of Future’s Past.
All in all, while it may seem like I had a lot of negative things to say about X-Men: Apocalypse, I did enjoy the film overall. However, unlike First Class, I had more issues with this one than I expected to have going into it. I think it might be time for Singer to pass the torch to someone else to continue this franchise. Singer does deserve some credit for perfectly tying this film into his 2000 film that started it all. I really do believe Matthew Vaughn should take over this franchise because his unique vision can take this franchise to the next level. I think Apocalypse is a decent ending to the Singer era but definitely left me feeling a bit disappointed.
MovieManMenzel’s final rating for X-Men: Apocalypse is a 7 out of 10.