X-Men: Apocalypse online movie review - "The third in the trilogy is always the worst".
Before panicking that this line, referenced to a beloved Star Wars film, means disrespect is afoot, you may come to realise this is a clever joke on the failings of the third X-Men film, 'The Last Stand'...
Apocalypse is about an ancient Egyptian mutant, possibly the first, who is awakened in the 1980's world of our now established mutant heroes. He tries to bring his rather hard line imperial-racial global view to fruition while X-Men young and mature struggle through their own problems to defend each other and the world from the threat Apocalypse himself presents with his gathered 'Four Horsemen' to help cleanse the planet. Younger members learn to fight this threat together while their mentors and would be mentors grapple with long term human and mutant issues of acceptance in society.
Finally we again have proper stakes in a Marvel film. A Main character taken, people dying within the carnage but some seriously nasty deaths also occur and not all characters finish without further black marks against their name.
Some character depiction and inclusiveness unfortunately suffered really badly e.g why would I want to see my favourite character's Angel and Psylocke unless they are done justice with development. Enjoyable despite finding some characters physically inaccurate, at least some were natural with freckles and moles which was refreshingly human. I don't understand though the obsession with constant exposure of Mystique. Despite loving Lawrence's acting, Mystique as a core X-Man? No not ever. Thank goodness she does such a good job rather than the near mute in the very first film.
Apocalypse has divided opinion, what led us to this stage?
Bryan Singer directed a superb effort in 2000 leading the first film. The oddly named X-2 soon passed as an all out superb sequel to a very good start, remaining well loved and highly respected among super hero films.
Following this came the atrocity (we do not mention its name) that 20th Fox couldn't hold out for Singer to direct. Dark lord among saga ruining sequels, due to its rushed and ignorant stamp-out ending of the comic's decades long epic tale of mutants, this abomination left the whole saga in tatters with previously happy X-film fans hating the whole lot. In fairness Berry and Janssen were seriously lacking in the first film but that's a quibble.
An age passed before First Class arrived. By no means great, it showed huge promise and here we are now, way off from original source material but film conversions can condense yet be respectful if treated properly. Again a lousy one-shot director was not in it for the long haul but by chance the excellent actors brought real humanity and characters to life. They and solid production design saved this from otherwise dodgy and repeat prologue sections.
It seemed incredible that Bryan Singer would return to direct these films again and Days of Future Past sounded a nightmarish story to pull off. It turned out excellent for those who love and appreciate either the comics, cartoons or decent X-Men films prior. Its only shame was (I begrudgingly have to accept) was showing a snippet of that accursed instalment No.3 but ultimately wiping it out as a false memory in the story (may it be wiped from our memories too).
We come to Apocalypse and will inevitably be divided. Either:
The long term multi layering of X-Men films brings a slower, more mature film that massively expands the animation and comics to cinema, fulfilling the best representation of comic book mythology to date proving Hollywood's dumb sequels and critics wrong.
The film-makers messed up and overreaching themselves in scope and script, left little dramatic tension or screen time for 'my favourite character'. We wanted more of the same, not this CGI heavy and dialogue leaden mess. 'Now get on with it! Shut up and fight!'
There are valid points in both stereotyped views above but I'd offer genuinely critical points as someone who loves super hero films but rarely gives them higher than 7 stars, so without gushing or hating:
Apocalypse is an enormously ambitious story/character to commit to screen and it is hard to believe they took a really great shot at it. It's consistent in vision from First Class onward yet links creatively with Bryan Singer's previous and first two films.
This feels like the X-Men world and depicts the central plot characters very well. All viewers should finally know whether they actually like X-Men in general or not through the accurate communication of their entire cultural and character setting across multiple films.
Vast scale destruction in CGI is overstated in modern cinema with grandiose orchestras blasting out epic themes for too many 'epic' moments for years, therefore reducing the impact of an otherwise truly epic event. These parts were least interesting with character interaction scoring highest for fictional expansion of Marvel's world. You may also find the the destruction a little boring, whenever the whole world's going to hell, you sort of give up and accept something too big to comprehend. Dramatic intent makes more impact. The musical score was good by the way with a brief but great Shawshank rip off.
There's a lot of bad guy 'standing around' while their boss speaks. The 'enemy' deserve more substance and action, at least you may well agree with Apocalypse's view of the modern world. Sympathising with enemies is always a strength and humanises them. 'En Sabah Nur' or Apocalypse does something terrific with some deeply atmospheric Beethoven played to amazing effect. Quicksilver steals the good guy's best scene again with much humour, ignoring coincidences and luck, this was delightful as last time.
Overall good acting outweighs CGI here, its a brilliant slower universe expander for people who like X-Men and can enjoy an excellent fully grown up saga, not one off blockbusters that repeat Hollywood popcorn brain formulas. Make another!