So last night, I was able to see X-Men Apocalypse at my local theater. And hey, I even had a free pass to see it!
Good thing, too. I’m not entirely sure I’d have wanted to pay full price for this one.
So let’s talk about the plot. It’s ten years after the events of Days of Future Past. Professor Xavier has his school up and running. Mystique is running her own missions to help mutants like Nightcrawler. And Magneto is in hiding in Poland, where he’s become something of a family man. But this relative peace is about to be shattered by an ancient evil. Many millennia ago, there was a powerful mutant called “Apocalypse.” He ruled as a god in ancient Egypt, but circumstances sent him into a deep hibernation until he emerges in the ’80s. He then sets out to find four powerful mutants to serve as his horsemen, so he can live out his mantra of survival of the strongest. But little does he realize there’s a new generation of mutant heroes ready to oppose him.
Let’s just get this out of the way: the best X-Men movie to date is X2. Based on what I saw last night, it’s in no danger of being dethroned any time soon. This was an okay movie, I guess, but I think this entire franchise is starting to buckle under its own weight. As a certain merc put it recently, “McAvoy or Stewart? These timelines can get so confusing.” I spent a lot of my time trying to unravel this new timeline, which started in First Class, continued in Days of Future Past, and now is continuing to play out. Parts of it just don’t make sense to me. This new X-reality spans about two decades, and yet many of the players don’t seem to have aged at all (like Beast, Mystique, Havoc; basically anyone who was in First Class).
More problematic is the rather slip-shod story in this movie. Apocalypse spends most of his time recruiting his horsemen, three quarters of whom basically contributed nothing to the plot. When Apocalypse finally has all the pieces to the puzzle, the story takes a hard left turn into some very familiar territory. And this isn’t a spoiler since they put it in the commercials a few weeks ago: we wind up in Alkali Lake again, where Wolverine doesn’t just have a cameo. His story basically takes over for a good fifteen to twenty minutes. And quite frankly, that little bit of nostalgia contributed nothing to the overall plot either.
We finally (finally!) get to a rather cliched supervillain plot (one that’s been attempted by the likes of Ultron and General Zod, to just name two) at the end of the movie, and I liked the way that Apocalypse was defeated. For the most part. To be honest, I didn’t think the final confrontation was earned. Yes, I knew what was going on and why it was significant. Most dedicated fans will too. And while the final confrontation sets up a possible future film, it didn’t feel like the writers set up the whole scene well enough. Sure, they hinted at it in the very beginning, but there wasn’t enough groundwork laid for it to really and truly work.
One other nitpick: Sophie Turner is a fine actress and does okay as Jean Grey. But for some reason, she looked too old in this movie. I don’t know what it was. I know she’s only twenty, but she looked a lot older than the other students, especially next to Tye Sheridan.
So all in all, this was a decent movie. Definitely better than X3, but a far cry from the real gems of the franchise. I’m hoping they can do better in the future.