Review: X-MEN: APOCALYPSE is easily one of the worst films of the franchise

X-Men-Apocalypse-Trailer-1-Cyclops

It’s possible we may owe Brett Ratner a big apology.

I recognize that quality in these superhero outings are often a game of inches. Sometimes we forgive the somewhat ramshackle plotting of one because of its focus on warmer characterization, or we zero-in on the visceral nature of another because of how much more explicitly it presents the actions and ramifications of its four-color titans. So when I tell you that X-Men: Apocalypse, the fourth Bryan Singer-helmed go with Marvel’s mutants, is a disaster of fairly seismic proportions, please note that it takes a special kind of awful to stand-out from the pack. This isn’t just a matter of tone or alternate takes on characters not jibing with its source material, this is a film that is fundamentally flawed from the ground up. I figured Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was as bad as one of these movies would get this year. How could I have been so mistaken?

One of the first, most glaring problems with this new X-Men adventure is its title villain. The enigmatic Apocalypse, “played” by Oscar Isaac is a giant lump of nothing, a very good actor covered up in tons of makeup to the point of anonymity, and given a motivation that should make sense but is actually less clear than what Magneto was up to in the very first X-Men effort in 2000. Something about “following blind leaders” and getting rid of anyone that isn’t a mutant. Frankly, that makes him fairly faithful to his comic counterpart, but that still doesn’t make it an enjoyable watch and this version En Sabah Nur is dreadfully dull. In a sense, he’s a bit emblematic of the entire enterprise that Singer and screenwriter Simon Kinberg embarked upon with this 80’s set entry, a shapeless formless mess that lacks anything resembling a satisfying arc, or really, a reason to exist creatively.

It’s the former that’s especially a problem, as everyone involved from Charles Xavier on down to the new teammates, all just sort of act as chess pieces. I cannot a tell you a thing about Cyclops, Nightcrawler, or Jean Grey that hasn’t already been established by the previous X-Men features (in much better fashion), and of the central trio of this currently trilogy – Magneto, Mystique, and Charles Xavier – both Erik and Raven have some sort of heroic redemption story occurring in a such a ham-fisted fashion that it barely registers when their respective resolutions finally come. Jennifer Lawrence’s role is especially odd, as Mystique is given a new “underground hero” nature that comes more as a consequence of needing to make better headlining use of the former The Hunger Games star rather than anything that’s a natural outgrowth of her actions in Days of Future Past. These two focal points aren’t particularly well served by the performances that inhabit them.

While James McAvoy is doing his Patrick Stewart impression and seems to be having some fun on screen, Michael Fassbender’s Magneto is now a pale shade of the nuanced figure that so admirably provided an emotional anchor to X-Men: First Class (Apocalypse goes out of its way to flash back to that much better Matthew Vaughn film multiple times, and Charles and Erik’s wonderful interplay therein, crushingly absent here, is hammered over the audiences’ collective head to make up for that void). When Fassbender exclaims to a God that he feels has forsaken him, it’s delivered in such an over the top fashion, I was looking for where the teethmarks were left on the scenery. Lawrence has the opposite problem, as her performance is pitched somewhere between valium-induced and indifference.

All of that aside, the real culprit here is a deeply terrible script, hampered by exposition that comes at what feels like an every 5 minute pace, and unnaturally stiff dialogue that’s hard to believe made it past the first draft stage. It’s as if Singer, Kinberg, and the rest of the crew behind the scenes had no real confidence in their source material or their audiences ability to understand it, so there’s a bit of apologia at work. At the same time, Singer seems to actively be trying to make a “superhero” movie in the Marvel mold, but he also clearly has very little interest in that kind of film, so tonally, we’re looking at a confused heap of metal, explosions and posing that still feels a bit embarrassed to be that. A film that’s trying to be brighter to keep up with the Joneses, but really just wants to whisper to you how serious and grim it is. In the end, nothing about it has import, and it’s just largely a waste of time with really, really ugly CGI. Seriously, there’s a sequence with Quicksilver and Mystique that left my jaw agape at how poorly rendered it was.

And for all its period trappings, just why exactly did this need to be set in the 80’s? What’s even the point of this chronological jump in each film? Currently, I can’t tell you how old Magneto, Charles and Mystique are even supposed to be. They all look to be about in their 30’s, but there’s no way that’s possible given that they were at least college-aged during the Bay of Pigs. And Havoc is somehow Scott’s older brother as well. The latter is more conceivable, but the fact that I spent most of the movie trying to put this all together rather than being at all invested in the incredibly boring, and weightless, events on screen, should tell you all you need to know.

Evan Peters’ Quicksilver is still great though, and reminds you just how much fun you had watching him two years ago. Give that guy a movie instead of Gambit, please? And hand the X-Men franchise over to Deadpool director Tim Miller at this rate while you’re at it. When you make a movie that’s arguably worse than X-Men: The Last Stand, it’s time to move on.

 

Comments

  1. Carter says

    That seems like a completely reasonable and well-balanced reaction to a negative movie review that mentions the word “Marvel” twice and “Disney” zero times.

  2. f.u. says

    I’m glad that you agree. I am tired of the hypocrisy of the reviewers, you praise marvel for the same reasons you bash bvs and x-men. And of course, Deadpool got good reviews, because it was a brainless flick, of course. I’m out, I’m glad that I use adblock plus.

  3. Gabriel says

    What a useless review. Sounds like a hipster who’s full of himself wrote this cat puke.

  4. Jacob Goddard says

    Really?
    Sounds to me like a guy who generally likes the X Men movies, but thinks this one sucks.

  5. November says

    Dear god don’t hand over the x-men franchise to who-ever directed Deadpool. That would be like Marvel handing the avengers over to the hack who did Guardians of the Galaxy. Both were films pretended they were different, they were cool rule breakers but in reality were among the most generic of genre. It style over substance. Deadpool was boring after the first 10 minutes. the whole origins story was so bland and unfunny but took up 70% of the film. a deadpool film should of been funny and different, not boring and generic origin tripe.

    I’ve not seen it and it may be disappointing or bad but I think leaving the franchises in the hands of the idiots who made a boring deadpool is worse fate.

  6. Zach says

    Hipster? Where do you get hipster from? Why not call him a millenial too while you’re at it?

  7. Dandru says

    Gabriel stupidly wrote:
    “What a useless review. Sounds like a hipster who’s full of himself wrote this cat puke.”

    You’re an idiot.

  8. Carter says

    f.u. says wrote
    “I’m glad that you agree.”

    I honestly can’t tell if you’re playing into my sarcasm or just unaware of it.

    Regardless, I thought this was a well=written review that looked at the film on its own merits and didn’t compare its content to anything other than previous films in the franchise. I think it’s crazy how people come out of the woodwork and cry “conspiracy” when Marvel Studios movies get good reviews and non-Marvel Studios movies don’t. Maybe, just maybe, movies like this and BvS get bad reviews because they’re, you know, bad.

  9. JCG says

    Eh, surely it’s a little better than BvS? This flick is still at 44% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes compared to 17% for the former.

    But I guess it will keep going down so let’s see where they end up!

  10. Daniel says

    Anyone that likes “First Class” but doesn’t like “BvS” has very little critical credibility with me. “First Class” was a terrible film, all style and no substance.

  11. Aaron Browne says

    Help me out here -why is there even a review of a film that is not opening for another 18 days; May 27th???

    Kyle Pinion:so we got
    1. Lame depiction of Apocalypse, -that sucks, Give us some spoilers, and provide us with some examples, if the reviews are going to be collectively bad, then just tell us…

    2. No new details on new takes of Cyclops, Storm, Nightcrawler, and the new movie ver of Psylocke -that is very lame. No reason for that? There was not action or any kind of cool sh!+ that went down that these characters were involved in??? Moria McTaggart should be from Ireland, right??? No one making the movie cares -look at Wolverine movie lameness (which one? both of course), look at the third X-Men movie, but I liked First Class, although it was mediocre I do not dislike it. Days of Future Past sucked, it was anti-climatic, and Wolverine should had been disintegrated into metal bones, but our fake consumer culture is all about things like Hugh Jackman’s branding, and he does not want is name associated w/a character that gets disintegrated -sooo weird, out lives are traffic, asphalt, branding, hate, consumerism, more traffic, and more asphalt, and advertisements disguised as entertainment w/commercials and ads, and zero sense of cooperation or how to improve anything…

    3. I believe what you are saying about the celebrities, and Jen Lawrence not acting (she said she hated dressing up with the Mystique make up), and her Hunger Games image -this is Fox, and this is the former-USA, all that matters is profit, cost savings, consumersism, and bigotry, at the end and beginning of the day we have no long term savings, sit in traffic and know getting cancer and our job outsourced is inevitable regardless of how much education/work ethic/experience we all have. Owners of brand licenses could care less about characterization, and matching original source material. There are brand identities, and metrics, and contract agreements that need to be met first, then make the movie second -regardless, we are bred to be consumers, and for all the complaining arguments being posted as comments, all of us will spend, and the spending is what matters. Look at the trailer -the ending was more about McAvoy having a bald head, than showing Xavier doing anything -ewwww, a man sitting in a wheel chair with his head bald yaaaay, at last… ‘meh’, pathetic -which is good, because we are consumers, we complain, but we will NEVER do anything about it; Go U! S! A! spend that money on a b.s. movie, and then post comments that provide zero real solution (that would mean we would have to cooperate with eachother, and no way would things like ‘cooperation’ go down in ‘the USA’).

    4. “Apologia” =specifically how was there some kind of apology for their work going on??? Give us some spoilers, please…

    5. The period peice part taking place in the 80’s is mote, I do not think it really matters, or is worth mentioning -its kind of cool, I think though, to show the story progressing throughout time…

    ****
    I do not doubt your review, but shouldnt you and the rest of this site just have a standard for fans to go by, to collectively BAN COMIC BOOK MOVIES, and especially the movie MERCHANDISE? Something to setup at conventions perhaps for people to sign a peition that can be displayed and updated online, something to establish an international ‘community’ of people that will commit to no longer paying for X-Men movies, otherwise what good are our online comments???
    PLEASE: Something more than just posting comments complaining. Setup something with all the news sites from flogs like newsarama and comicbookresources to news sites like the comics journal WE CAN ORGANIZE BOOTHS TO BE SETUP AT CONVENTIONS TO SETUP BANNING ALL FOX MOVIES, or just commit to not complain w/out setting up a SOLUTION.
    ****

  12. Handsome Jack says

    Quicksilver movie starring Evan Peters? I’m in! Maybe they can hire the Quicksilver who was killed off from the MCU and cast him as the villain. Ha!

  13. Skottie says

    “Michael Fassbender’s Magneto is now a pale shade of the nuanced figure that so admirably provided an emotional anchor to X-Men: First Class”

    Nuance? In First Class? You’ve gotta be fucking with me.

  14. Skottie says

    “why is there even a review of a film that is not opening for another 18 days; May 27th?”

    Because he already saw it and has opinions on it now, rather than 18 days later. How is this too difficult to comprehend?

  15. MBunge says

    I didn’t read the review because I’m going to see the movie, so why spoil what little the review may spoil.

    However, given the portion of X-Men history this is based on…should anyone be surprised if it sucks? I know the character debuted in 1986 but Apocalypse is really a 90s thing and the X-Men were completely inbred at that point, like an Appalachian version of the Legion of Super-Heroes.

    Mike

  16. Brian C says

    I guess Grace Randolph was right. There is a massive conspiracy to destroy all superhero movies not made by the evil Disney/Marvel overlords. You’re all on Disney’s payroll! No rational, clear thinking person would do anything other than praise BvS and X-Men; Apocalypse. Both are literally, objectively perfect films. They make Citizen Kane look like doggie poo! Any criticism whatsoever is empirical proof that all critics (other than Grace Randolph OBVIOUSLY) have been bought and paid for by their overlords at Disney/Marvel.

  17. Aaron Browne says

    @Skottie:
    Wow,… thanks man… Yeeeah, I meant here we have a guy sending us a movie review w/out much info to back up his opinions, and I asked questions to follow up since he reviewed it so early, so no one reading his review can really do anything outside of act like a typical ‘American’/consumer and speculate, and post b.s. comments…

    -Do you think Kyle Pinion will answer my questions, Skottie?

  18. Hamman says

    One of the wost films I have seen in years anyone who say’s it’s not is a fanboy

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  20. Just Cause says

    Unfortunately it is the responsibility of Fox. My god they are responsible for this crap AND the lackluster Fantastic Four movies. Vomit.

  21. Panquee1013 says

    Bryan Singer is always full of crap, who can’t direct any good movies. So he was one of the first pioneers that revitalized the super hero genre like 16 years ago… so what. He hasn’t done crap since and his movies hasn’t evolved either.

    And all his excuses are tiring: 1) if you didn’t want the backlash for the purple hue, choose a different picture to be the first leak. 2) if you didn’t want the criticism for Isaac’s voice in the trailer, then finish the edits before releasing the trailer.. 3) if you didn’t want the criticisms for the small human form of Apocalypse, then make an cgi with a good motion capture actor like Andy Serkis, (although I’m sure Isaac would have done a great job), and 4) lastly, if you didn’t want bad reviews of your movie, then take the time to learn and respect the comic characters and build a good story around these beloved characters— your talented actors will fill their part.

    Or just stop directing these movies… Please!!!

  22. Luke says

    I SWEAR. None of these critics were actually following along with Apocalypse. He made it quite clear that he wasn’t a black and white villain. He wants to get rid of all man-made crap because that makes humans godlike (hence all of the nukes he shot into space). He wanted his weapon, Magneto to destroy man’s creations while he takes Charles’s power to control all minds in the world. He wants to be a god again.

  23. secret human says

    I may be late to comment but figured I whould put my two cents out there
    I didn’t mind this movie and feel this review doesn’t do this show justice. It is most deffinetly not the best of the xmen movies but it does compare. It is no where near the lavel of x3. But honestly X3 is (IMO) the shitiest peice of crap that has ever been produced on a serious budget. Words can’t even come close to my level of hatred for it.

    Without spoilers X:A I feel compares to DoFP and First class. I would say it is better than first class but not quite as good as DoFP (Although two of the people who went to it with me both thought it was better than DoFP nither one is really big on Super flicks either) DoFP I should note is actually my favorite Xmovie to date with X2 a really close seconed. (They might swap places depending on my mood)
    It isn’t perfect. I personally disliked the actress they had for Jean or maybe I didn’t like the way Jean was scripted eather way Jean felt really disatached and unemotional to me. I liked pretty much everyone else for acting.
    Pylock and Angel were two of my biggest dissapointments Nither was really developed well and could ha e really been some random genaric charecter who I didn’t care about and Storm was bearly better.
    I also didn’t like the quicksilver speed scene again.I mean it was still good and funny but I felt like I had already seen this and felt it was a very lazy way to make people feel good about the movie. Also you knew it was coming from a mile away.
    So this can lead to what I liked
    I was woried going in to the movie that I was going to have to listen to another Magneto vs Prof. X debate on mutants movie. Not so much. It was there don t get me wrong but it was not at all that overbearing it was not front and center and I found what was there worked in the movie.
    The actors for Nightcrawler and Scott did there roles well. Imparticular Nightcrawler. I really liked Nightcrawler (Although I will admit I am biased towards Nightcrawler)
    Anyways I think the up coming cast has a lot of potentall ( except Jean still am not impressed with her)
    There were some very funny moments in this and there was just a really nice flow and feel to each scene camera work was well done.
    I know a lot of other hate on the CGI and the look of Apocolypse. I didj’t really notice anything myself that was like so bad you ere throwen out of the movie. I don’t care what charecters look like a whole lot in regards to reference material. The way I look at the movies is they are and AU and if in this AU Apocolypse is blue whatever. As long as the plot is basicly good I don’t care.Also I have the whole idea that you can’t change time only creat more AUs that branch off from the piont changed so this how I am going to explain the continuity problems many dislike. Althouh how Wolveiene ended up were he did considering the end of DoFP did irk me. I am aware not everyone will like this as an eplanation for why somethings (like Angle being alive) have happenex time wise in this movie but I try my best to like movies so this is my explanation.

    That is my general feelings to this movie and if you go into it yes you should know there is exposition and some oirgin movie stuff but it is well balenced by existing charecters and there plots and feel this was a good way to introduce us to the next line up.

    O.k now to adress the whole disney conspiricy theroy stuff. I like some of the stuff put out by marvel GoTG Ant man the first Avengers are just so good for all there own reasons. I also enjoyed moments of the first Thor Iron man and other stuff I don’t feel like going throuh the movie collection to remeber them all. All the Captin americas have felt meh to me they wern’t bad but the Captin just has never really been my guy imparticular I struggled to pay attention in the first Captin America. I also feel like AAoU was let down again it wasn’t bad but I was dissapointed comong out of theters for it. So now I am doing athe biggest sin in popular opinion right now but TBH civil war was also meh. It was by far the best Captin america movie no compition and I also think it was better than AoU. But it does not compare to my previously mentioned favorites in the MCU. I actually feel most of the seconed phase hasn’t quite lived up to the standards set by the first avengers. And now what is sure to get me called a fan boy (althouh I’m a girl) I found civil war to be comparable to X:A. There were things in both movies that I didn’t like there were things I enjoyed. This is just my thouhts. (Two of my movie friends actuall thought X:A was better but I know one of them deffenetly hates anything that has to deal with superhero regulation cause he also hated ultimite aliance 2 for that story line and alot of xmen stuff)
    So how does this relate to the conspicy.well I’m going to give you my veiw point and this is my background for reference. I do think that there are people out there who just want to trash fox so they give rights to marvel.Because that is what people do and fox hs messed up somethings horrably (*cough* F4) I also have read about some of the things marvel jas done i.e limiting metchandising not allowing any more mutants to be made and yes I do think they are letting money inturrup the art of both the movies and comics. I don’ t belive they will get rid of xmen comics (makes no buissness sense) unless they are ruled by five year old children and playground politics and I also feel people are blowing marvel evil out of prportion. It is a buissness it’s what they do. Also for every person who wants to just trash fox theres someone who hates on marvel. I personally have enjoyed movies from both studios and will continue to do so and I will try to find good in all of them because well I mostly want to enjoy my movies. I don’t want the xmen to move studieos though because I just like what they have done with the universe so far and I have hih hopes for the future and I don’t want to have it all rebooted by marvel and have to wait half my life for xmen to be reintroduced for new audiences.(don’t pretend that isn’t what will happen) Same with spider man I kinda wished they had kept the guy from the amazing spider man series and still kept the previous movies relevent but they didn’t so oh well.

    Ok that be all sorry for the rantyness

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