Thursday, June 2, 2016

X-Men: Apocalypse Review

X-Men: Apocalypse
Director: Bryan Singer
Cast Headliners: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Evan Peters, Tye Sheridan, Oscar Isaac, many many others.

Original Release Date : May 27th, 2016

 By the ninth installment of a franchise, one might be suspect of its quality. But in the case of X-Men: Apocalypse there still manages to be some mutant surprise. This film follows the “past” timeline first started in 2011 with X-Men: First Class, taking the fight to the 1980s and introducing a powerful new foe from the classic comics. Sounds like a lot to process, and well it attempts to do it mostly with grace however for every greatness there are perhaps a slight thud or fault as well.
The film begins with an exhilarating action opening in ancient Egypt, a fresh tonal departure for this series, as the titular ancient mutant enemy En Sabah Nur/Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) transfers his essence into a new host. He is sealed deep underneath Cairo and the film fast forwards to the 80s after the events of the new timeline seen in X-Men: Days of Future Past.
In the time since we last saw them the mutant heroes and less so heroic ones are scattered across the globe in different places in their lives. Magneto/Erik(Michael Fassbender) leads a new peaceful life under an assumed name with his new family in Poland. Professor X/Charles(James McAvoy) leads his mutant academy with Beast/Hank(Nicholas Hoult). Mystique/Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) roams the world in search of mutants to help after becoming a matyr in the events of DOFP.  This only begins to cover the tip of the iceberg of characters, like with many films in this franchise.
But while something like the recent Captain America: Civil War shows how to balance a large cast well, this film suffers in part due to a tremendously long buildup time. Layers upon layers of sideplots reach towards a far too simple conclusion. Diversions to include characters such as Stryker(Josh Helman) and Wolverine/Logan(An awesomely brief Hugh Jackman) are ultimately questionable to increase the runtime and cast count. 
Director Bryan Singer does a mostly solid job from a visual cinematic if not pacing standpoint, and handles the 1980s ambience well with musical, costume, and pop culture points that align with the fun inflections seen in First Class and DOFP’s respective decades.  The action can be at times sweet, if perhaps a bit too sparse, and the visual effects have moments of occasional cheese.
                There are the standout elements that are quite amazing. There’s Fassbender’s Magneto. As always, his arc is filled with emotional conflict and intense drama. It’s great to see how this character has evolved over the loose trilogy of this time period. Quicksilver/Peter(Evan Peters) once again has an absolutely amazing hilarious scene(the film has perhaps an increased amount of humor than usual, often through this character and McAvoy’s Professor) that almost makes the price of admission worth alone with his high speed craziness.
 Lawrence gives a surprisingly fresh turn as Mystique if not the best of her career, offering a moral center of the deeper themes . Nightcrawler/Kurt(Kodi Smit-McPhee) is back as a young version of the blue teleporting demon, offering humorous exchanges with his young squad of a re-introduced Jean Grey(a alright Sophie Turner, very much like Sansa Stark and little more) and  Cyclops/Scott(Tye Sheridan, sort of the lead young person).  As mentioned there are so many characters, and people like Storm/Ororo(Alexandra Shipp), Jubilee(Lana Condor), Angel(Ben Hardy), and Psylocke(Olivia Munn) do little for the plot aside from fan service mention/minion work.

For having the film named after him, Isaac’s Apocalypse is…alright. His makeup is slightgly cheesy, and his booming monster voice ranges from menacing and monstrous to laughable. But when it comes time to be powerful and menacing, there are some cool parts and it is interesting to see a larger threat bringing together mutants. For once, a threat worthy of the name in power abilities. However the use of Isaac is questionable, having none of the charisma of his turns in Ex-Machina or Star Wars though continuing their trend of being an acting chameleon.
                It takes a long time to buildup and has little action on the way but its finale is action packed. It offers a lot of X-men comics lore and shoutouts but loses some characters in its journey. However, while it is not the best film in the franchise, it still offers good turns in Magneto, Professor X, Quicksilver and the like and does a solid job at the 1980s to make it worth going through for a fan if not with some slight reservations beforehand. But it is reccomendable to previous fans fsho and far from a  major disaster, make sure to catch up however!  7.9 out of 10

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