Film Review by Fiore
X-MEN: APOCALYPSE, under the guidance and tutelage of Bryan Singer, is a fine endeavor for the conclusion of the series. It is filled with all the spectacle, fantasy and action one would expect from a franchise wrap. It does, however, have a been-there-seen-that mien which detracts from the manifestation.
Part of the problem is the same phenomenon that plagued the second STAR WARS trilogy – it’s all basically a story that doesn’t need to be told, or in the vernacular, movies that do not need to be seen. I always stated my fondness for the original X-Men trilogy. Never a fan of the comics, I thought the first three stories were bold and unpredictable as key characters were often killed or altered. The original trilogy established storylines between various X-Men members and more importantly, the relationship between Stryker and the mutants and Magneto’s complicated connection with Professor X. This latest tale in the prequel trilogy simply augments those storylines.
Just like the original STAR WARS trilogy, the background story presented is sufficient, with no further explanation necessary. In THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, when Vadar reveals he is Luke’s father, it is one of cinema’s most acute moments. There is really no need to see how it happened; in fact, filling in the story detracts from one of film’s famed frames.
The same singularity occurs with X-MEN: APOCALYPSE. Viewers are treated to another interpretation of Wolverine’s escape from Colonel Stryker’s military experimentation; the origins of Cyclops; the shifting alliances of Storm and Mystique; how Professor X loses his hair; and the continuing philosophical differences between old friends Erik and Charles. While these elements will cause shivers to fanboy geeks, they are totally unnecessary in plot or character development in the X-Men franchise.
X-MEN: APOCALYPSE begins with the awakening of Apocalypse who is supposedly the first of Earth’s mutants. He gains powers by absorbing other mutants’ abilities until he reaches a god-like status. Seen as a danger, and too powerful for the benefit of all, he is betrayed and placed in stasis until he is reawakened in time to meet the X-Men before the start of the timeline of the original film trilogy.
Reprising their roles are: James McAvoy as Charles Xavier; Michael Fassbender as Erik Lehnsherr; Jennifer Lawrence as Raven; Nicholas Hoult as Hank McCoy; and Hugh Jackman as Logan. New to this episode are: Oscar Isaac as En Sabah Nur; Rose Byrne as Moira Mactaggert; Evan Peters as Peter Maximoff; Sophie Turner as Jean Grey; Tye Sheridan as Scott Summers; Lucas Till as Alex Summers; and Kodi Smit-McPhee as Kurt Wagner.
1. The rising of the Phoenix
2. The Wolverine cameo
3. Magneto’s magnetic destruction
Jennifer Lawrence returns as Mystique, my personal favorite of the X-Men. She is not as effective in the role as her predecessor, Rebecca Rojmin. Largely due to her contract, Lawrence plays Mystique more as a reluctant hero than a mutant supremist, and spends more time out of character than as the blue scaly chameleon. Fassbender’s Magneto is solid, as always, until the script by Simon Kinberg requires a sudden, but all too expected, change of heart in the climatic reel. The switch is presented as a given, and no rational or logical reason is given for the shift.
The battle with god-like entities is also wearing thin. Damien Darhk became one on this season of ARROW; Vandal Savage was similar in LEGENDS OF TOMORROW; Ichabod Crane battled one on SLEEPY HOLLOW; and THE AVENGERS had to deal with Loki. Makes one wonder what producers in Hollywood fear when the reoccurring theme is one of a returning, vengeful god.
The X-Men franchise is always better with Singer in charge, but the entire prequel trilogy was unnecessary, except for box office bleeding. It only provides manifestation for an already known story.
THE GRADE FOR X-MEN: APOCALYPSE = C