RHENN (Writer, frustrated mutant)
X-Men: Apocalypse is a good film wherever you look at it – it can be a good ender to the First Class trilogy, a more calming variant from the other superhero flicks of the season, a good adaptation of an excellent comic book arc, and a good standalone film for first-timers and casual viewers. The trademark X sequence in the beginning and the iconic fight scenes teased in trailers did not fail to commit, and there is a particular awe in the introduction of the newest members of the team. It may be as if you could hear the iconic 90’s theme music in the distance.
There is sheer beauty in their portrayal of the 80’s, a consistency Michael Vaughn started with First Class and Bryan Singer continued with Days of the Future Past and now with the current film. The little changes in hairstyle, the clothing and the pop culture references were greatly done, if not spot on. X-Men hinges on the “recognition” factor, like a form of subliminal conditioning from comic book fans and those familiar with the films that have gone before Apocalypse. We all knew who Wolverine was and what Weapon X is without their mention, and we all know the Danger Room when we see it. There is a peculiar beauty in the gawk of the phoenix as the fire behind Sophie Turner burned, and the red sheen on Scott’s visor gave me very necessary tingling sensations. There was more than enough fanservice to fuel entire subplots (there were a lot. The Essex teaser in the after-credits, Quicksilver hesitating to admit his real relation to Magneto, Stryker and Weapon X, Psylocke and her rather ambitious introduction) – or just fascinate viewers and fans into submission.
As adaptations go, Apocalypse is not without its flaws and little inconsistencies. A still shot of what appears to be Dazzler that was released months back did not seem to get in the final cut, and not much development was allotted to much of the new cast. Much of Xavier’s new students barely got any kind of development at all: Jubilee was with personality but without her trademark “fireworks” (although they did get the glasses spot on) and Kurt was simply comic relief if not for his teleportation (the entire Mystique-Azazel encounter was not explored – yet, anyway). As far as villains go, although I praise Oscar Isaac’s portrayal of Apocalypse, the character seemed very underdeveloped; Apocalypse was not as menacing as I thought he would be, although that might be me expecting the bulkier version of the villain rather than the evil high priest portrayal he gave. However, the “All is revealed” revelation upon Sophie Turner’s “activation” of the Phoenix Force, and En Sabah Nur’s purpose to “bring about” the Apocalypse is a good, if not perfect, introduction to what seems to be the Dark Phoenix Saga.
There is a particular dynamism between Charles and Erik that James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender was able to execute well – Xavier’s view on the potential of mankind-mutantkind relations and Erik’s descend into the Horseman War, and the tapping of his potential, and helped defined much of their character’s core principles as seen in comic books. While a bit inaccurate at best, McAvoy and Fassbender are good mirror images of Xavier and Magneto, something Sirs Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen were not entirely able to commit to (although I tip my hat for them being able to excellently portray the contrasting views directly off the first X-Men film without the long introductions). Sadly, the same kind of development are not seen in other core characters. Mystique suddenly became the reclusive teacher, Ororo the reclusive hero, Jean Grey the reclusive damsel in distress-turned-super mutant, and Scott the reclusive leader. Perhaps an intentional delay, to make room for the next films? Perhaps.
I would give the film a 7/10. Depending on which critic you listen to, Apocalypse may seem a rather pale conclusion to the nostalgia ride that is the First Class trilogy, and perhaps a mediocre opening to the next – whichever path Singer wants to take with the next films in the franchise. Other critics, and fans such as myself, would recommend still going for it. Apocalypse is a fresh break from the Dawn of Justice fiasco (and we all know we have a take on the puzzle that is reconstructing Justice League: War – err, BvS) and the stellar rise of the Marvel Studios cinematic universe.