X-Men: Apocalypse

When I first saw X-Men: First Class in the theater, I was frustrated by Hugh Jackman’s cameo as Wolverine. “That’s so stupid,” I told my friends. “How can he show up in the 60s and look the same  as he does in the present?”.

Okay, so clearly I don’t know much about the X-Men universe. But I have since seen all the movies and tend to enjoy them. After Days of Future Past, which I thought was the strongest entry in the series by far, I had pretty high hopes for Apocalypse.

Nine films in a series can start to blend into one so I can’t always remember what happened in which but I am pretty sure that Apocalypse is my submission for the worst- certainly most boring- X-Men movie so far. What could have gone wrong since Bryan Singer’s triumphant return to the franchise two summers ago?

I can’t help feeling that Wolverine is the most important element of Future Past that is missing from Apocalypse. Sure, Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine is one of the best performances that I can think of in any comic book character ever but that’s not even what I’m missing. Future Past was told mostly from the perspective of Wolverine so we were introduced (or, in many cases, reintroduced) to most characters as they became relevant to Wolverine’s mission.

Like Days of Future Past, Apocalypse has A LOT of characters. Even by superhero movie standards. But without picking a single character’s perspective to focus on, it jumps around a lot. In fact, it probably spends a good half hour on each character’s separate introduction. Like Batman v. Superman, Apocalypse has a habit of cutting away to an unrelated scene just when it’s feeling like it’s starting to get good.

X-Men: Apocalypse is disappointing but does manage to benefit from both the past and future films in the series. Professor X and Magneto, both in their respective story arcs and in their relationship with each other, coast on their strong starts in their last two films and continue to captivate thanks to strong performances by James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender. Everyone else is fine- even good- but these two are clear standouts in a crowded cast where you need to be great to even be noticed.

Having so many new characters necessitate a lot of scenes that feel more like obligatory preamble than part of the story. But just as the returning characters benefit from the smart choices made in previous installments, the new characters (Cyclops, Storm, Nightcrawler, and Jean Gray) benefit from the promise of better movies in the future. They’re well-cast and likeable, giving hope that they’ll be better utilized next time.

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37 thoughts on “X-Men: Apocalypse

    1. Matt Post author

      I may like Days of Futures Past so much because it was the least X-Menny of them all but I thought it really delivered on the promise of First Class with the Wolverine, Xavier, Magneto, and Mystique stories all coming to a head in really satisfying ways I can’t name too many things that I think Apocalypse did wrong but I did find way too much of it to be tedious.

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  1. mikeyb @ screenkicker

    I thought DoFP was boring and uneven, I don’t think Singer has the spark he had when he was younger. First Class made think the future of X-Men would be great. Instill want to see this but my my expectations are low.

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    1. Matt Post author

      I felt very differently about DoFP than you did but, based on Apocalypse, I think we’re generally in agreement that Bryan Singer is starting to lose sight of what it takes to make this franchise work.

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    1. Matt Post author

      I hope you enjoy it. It’s always possible that one of these characters will get their own movie (Wolverine and Deadpool did) but I think it’s more likely that they’ll be expanded on as a group in future installments. Jennifer Lawrence (Mystique) is out after this and, while James MacAvoy (Professor X) and Michael Fassbender (Magneto) have expressed some interest in returning, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is it for them too. So it’ll be up to the new kids now.

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    1. Matt Post author

      I hadn’t seen many until about two years ago when I binge-watched the whole series and I have to admit at this point watching them all is quite an undertaking. If you wanted a condensed version, just check out X-Men, X2, First Class, and Days of Futures Past.

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  2. ninvoid99

    I’ll watch this when it’s on TV as I’m just not interested. Plus, I think you’re spot-on about Hugh Jackman as I really liked his performance in DoFP. Especially in the fact that he brings a sense of calm and weariness to Wolverine but also still be a badass. The scene where he tells the young Charles about the original plan of the mission as well as Logan was Charles’ most helpless student is Jackman displaying some of his best work.

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    1. Matt Post author

      Yes! I’m not even a huge fan of him in general but I really do believe that some of his best work was done in this series. You’re right about the balance he finds between badass and heart. And what better compliment can you pay a (presumably) vain Hollywood star than “You played a character that doesn’t age convincingly for 16 years”?

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  3. Birgit

    Ok….there are 9?? I know the first 3 where, in the end, Jean Grey is one angry red eyed bitch but then I get lost…I know there are Wolverine movies and then there are these films but I get confused in which order they all belong. Anyway, you are not the first to be dissappointed in this film…sad overall I think

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    1. Matt Post author

      I was surprised that this wasn’t better, just when the franchise seemed to be getting its groove back. Yes, there are 9 counting Deadpool which I still haven’t seen but seems to be a completely different animal.

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  4. Tony Burgess

    Some movies try too hard and think of a scorched Earth storyline to make the biggest impression possible. Bad guys don’t have to resort to maximum destruction to get their point across.

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    1. Matt Post author

      I agree, sometimes the bigger the destruction, the smaller the stakes seem for the audience. It’s not how many lives are at risk but how many lives we care about.

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  5. Carrie Rubin

    I haven’t decided whether to see this one yet or not. Had my teen sons waited to see it with us, I might have, but they went without us Friday night–they ditched us, in other words. But maybe I’ll have to see it just for James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender.

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  6. Widdershins

    It’s worth seeing, certainly. If for nothing else than the ‘blow s**t up’ factor. 🙂 … but with the cast-of-thousands, it certainly felt like it was setting up a whole slew of movies … which of course, was Cap Am: Civil War’s secondary purpose too.

    I predict that Marvel’s endgame (sometime around 2030) is to have a 24 hour long fully immersive, 5D movie that will star everyone and destroy everything and rebirth the entire universe. 😀

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    1. Matt Post author

      I predict that if someone from marvel reads this comment section they may offer you a job or at least a meeting about your 14-year plan. I think Civil War focused very well on just two characters and, yes, there were a ridiculous number of other characters. But I didn’t think anyone got even a minute of screen time that didn’t serve the larger story. I didn’t feel that way about Apocalypse at all.

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  7. Liz A.

    9? 9!!! There have been nine X-Men movies?!? No wonder I was feeling a bit meh about this one. I stopped paying attention to these a while ago. I don’t have anything against comic book films, but I lost track of these at some point. I don’t remember when. I don’t remember why.

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    1. Matt Post author

      Yes, 9, including Deadpool. I think comic book movies are getting a little geekier so maybe that’s why you’re losing track. There are just so many of them now and they’re almost all part of one larger franchise or another. 9 X-Men films with a complex and shared mythology. 13 in the marvel extended universe. It can be overwhelming.

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  8. badblokebob

    I’ve always been a fan of the X-Men so I enjoyed it on the whole, but it’s nonetheless in the lower end of the X-film spectrum… though, for me, it’s there more by default than because I didn’t like it.

    Obviously there are going to be more sequels, so I hope they can adequately course-correct next time.

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    1. Matt Post author

      There’s some fun parts as long as you’re not expecting much more than that. Definitely don’t bother with the 3D. That offered nothing to the experience and the glasses just hurt my ears.

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  9. Ahdad

    I have an issue with the whole Stryker’s abduction of X-men, saved by Wolverine piece of the movie…Why it is even in there? There is simply no relevance to the main story arc, unless I’m missing something. And why oh why did they waste the character Angel again?

    BUT all in all, I enjoyed the movie. Especially the scenes with Nightcrawler and Quicksilver.

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    1. Matt Post author

      That part really bothered me. I think, because the Apocalypse character was so powerful, the plot necessitated that the final showdown would be pretty much the only action scene. So I think they worried that there wasn’t enough action and just threw in Stryker detour.
      I hope they plan on building on the Angel character next time around.

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      1. Ahdad

        If he isn’t dead already…They missed the whole explanation of Angel turning into Archangel. Credits to the scene where his wings changed into metal though…

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  10. Docthewho

    Good points all around, it was never gonna beat First calss or Dofp but I’m digging the new look X-Men and it had its fair share of fun parts, Apocalypse himself should have done some more though.

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    1. Matt Post author

      I had mixed emotions about Apocalypse. On the one hand, he was a force to be reckoned with and he made me nervous every time he was close enough to hurt a character I cared about. But, at the same time, what a waste of Oscar Isaac’s talent.

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  11. DotedOn

    My kids discovered super heroes’ movies not long ago thanks to their dad’s ex girlfriend. As a rule, no super heroes’ movies can be watched at my house. You have no idea how happy I am about that 😀
    I can tell you I only watched Superman (when I was 11) and Hulk (just because I really like Edward Norton) 🙂

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  12. J.

    This reminds me that I’ve yet to see Days of Futures Past. I think I was a little Marvelled out at the time … doesn’t sound like I should be in too much of a rush to catch up, so maybe wait till the DVD …

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  13. Lloyd Marken

    That’s a good way of looking at it. I liked where we found Eric. It made sense to have him have gone back to his roots and try to be at peace after the last movie. I’m a huge Fassbender fan too, easily his portrayal of Magneto in First Class was the best thing about that film for me but how many times do we have to see Magneto lose someone, try to destroy the world and then change his mind? I too wanted more from this. I have to say my hopes weren’t high since the trailers arrived and seemed slightly underwhelming.

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  14. tgbom

    I didn’t really love Days of Future Past, and same thing about First Class (in spite of James Mcavoy and Michael Fassbender), however Logan is great and original!

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