X-Men: Apocalypse

Ok…for the moment, I am going to have to use this format for the movie reviews as I am having technical trouble with my normal home over at EYG. This should work fine for now.
X-Men: Apocalypse is the latest in the X-Men franchise, bringing one of Marvel Comics’ biggest and baddest X-villains to the big screen. The world’s first mutant, En Sabah Nur aka Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) is accidentally brought back to the world and he picks right up with his plan on devastating the world, leaving only the strong, those who follow him. The X-Men step up to oppose him and his Four Horsemen in a massive CGI slugfest at the end of the film.
Now, I have heard some negative comments on X-Men: Apocalypse, so my expectations, which would have been sky high after the excellent X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Days of Future Past, were managed. Because of the lower expectations, I found myself enjoying this story of mutants, despite several flaws and times when they dropped the ball.
I will continue telling you about what I liked and didn’t like, but it will need to be under the guise of SPOILERS from now on. If you have yet to see the film and you do not want to be spoiled, please skip to the end. You have now been warned.
The best part of this film is the character development of Magneto (Michael Fassbender). Magneto is living a quiet life, with a wife and a daughter, as a metal worker in Poland. He had left the international terrorist lifestyle behind him and he was happy. However, after using his powers at work to save the life of a co-worker, Magneto was exposed. The following scene where Magneto is confronted by law enforcement and his wife and daughter are unintentionally killed packs a powerful emotional wallop and is the heart of the film. We see Erik trying his best to stay on the side of the heroes, only to be faced with such a horrific tragedy, and his resumption of hostilities. Michael Fassbender is heartbreaking in this scene as the man struggled with the loss of his family and the feeling of fate pulling him back to the dark side. You knew those cops didn’t stand a chance with a pissed off Magneto.
This anger and vengeful attitude opens Magneto up to be recruited by Apocalypse, who is looking for his new Horsemen. Now, this is one of the weak parts of the film. Not Magneto, but the other three Horsemen. Storm (Alexandra Shipp) and Angel (Ben Hardy) are woefully underused and really are just here to stand beside Apocalypse. However, these two characters are done perfectly when compared to Psylocke (Olivia Munn). This was such a wasted use of one of the top female X-characters that is was embarrassing. She had nothing to do and she was nothing more than a henchman. Psylocke was the worst character in the film.
On the X-Men side, Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) has set up his Xavier Institute for the Gifted and everything seems to be going smoothly. McAvoy is fantastic as Professor X, though I must say that some of the attempts at humor with Charles seemed to fall flat for me. Xavier discovered the return of Apocalypse with the use of Cerebro and Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) returned to the school with Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) in tow. She told the X-Men about the troubles of Magneto. Jennifer Lawrence did not show her best level of acting skills in this film, looking as if she were bored. She was almost never in the blue makeup, instead choosing to have her own blonde haired visage almost exclusively. I am not sure that I would go as far as to say that she phoned her performance in, but she has certainly had more effort in other films.
The new (old) X-Men- Scott Summers (Tye Sheridan) and Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) were great additions to the cast, and I could have used more of them. I really liked how they displayed Cyclops’ powers and how destructive they were. They made these powers appear to be a real burden for the young hero. This was a way to connect Scott and Jean together as we found out that Jean has had many of the same kind of issues. A scene late in the film with Jean unleashing what appeared to be the Phoenix was a highlight of that final battle. I also enjoyed the reintroduction of Nightcrawler, who was provided with not only some major things to do, but also delivered some of the film’s better humor.
Speaking of the final battle, honestly, it was underwhelming. There were some awesome moments inside the battle (ex Phoenix force, Professor X battling Apocalypse inside his mind), but most of the rest of the fight was basically standing pat. When you compare this battle with the airport scene from Captain America: Civil War, this looks all the more weak. Then, Magneto and Storm both turned their backs on Apocalypse, and I am not sure the motivations. I did not buy the reasoning for either of them to turn their back on Apocalypse.
Quicksilver (Evan Peters) made his return. In Days of Future Past, the Quicksilver scene was an absolute standout moment,and everyone was expecting more here. And we got it. Quicksilver saved all of the mutants from the exploding mansion. This is a great use of the character of Quicksilver, who is shown with a great personality. Not only was he portrayed well, the use of his powers helped develop his personality more. This was done extremely well in Civil War. Every scene in that airport scene served character. This was not always done here, but Quicksilver was a good example of doing this well. However, I did have a little bit of trouble accepting that Quicksilver was THAT fast. Still, the scene was highly entertaining and shot well.
The appearance of Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) was predictable,but fun. And man, did he go berserker? He butchered those men. As a comic fan, I appreciated the use of the actual Weapon X helmet and look for Logan. There was also a cool moment between Logan and new Jean that could help explain why Logan always felt such a connection to the redhead.

END OF SPOILERS

X-Men: Apocalypse is not at the same level of the last few X-Men movies, nor does it reach the excellent that was X2, but it is an enjoyable time at the movies, especially after I lowered my expectations. Sure, there are some problems with the film, including having some characters there for simply window service, a simplistic story and a questionable finale. However, fans of the X-Men should find enough here to be pleased with Bryan Singer’s latest installment.

3.5 stars

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