The following review contains NO SPOILERS.
tl;dr – X-Men: Apocalypse may have had some flaws, but it was packed with so many awesome moments that by the time the credits rolled, I didn’t really care about them.
Let’s address the elephant in the room. X-Men: Apocalypse is getting pretty mehh reviews from critics. Does it deserve that? Maybe. Did the X-Men movie/comic book fan inside me love this movie? Yes. Did the film critic inside me love this movie? I’m not sure, my inner fanboy was being too loud, so I think the film critic inside me may have simply checked out. All of this is to say that X-Men: Apocalypse isn’t as finely crafted of a film as previous entries like Days of Future Past, but that doesn’t stop it from being an incredibly entertaining movie.
X-Men: Apocalypse’s biggest strength is also it’s biggest weakness: it tries too hard to please the fans. For me, there were so many moments that made my inner fanboy squeal with joy, and not just my inner X-Men movie fan, but also my inner X-Men comic book fan. For the first time ever, it looks like Bryan Singer decided to appeal to the comic book readers by including several elements from the comics. I can’t discuss too many without giving away spoilers, but I think this was most evident with the characters of Scott and Jean – they are better developed in this movie than they were in any of the previous films, especially Jean.
To be honest, Magneto is probably my favorite character of the franchise (more on him in a bit), but Jean was my favorite character in this film, and Sophie Turner was great as the character. It may help that her voice even sounds a little like Jean from the 90s cartoon. And for comic book fans, Jean finally gets to do something in this movie that I’ve been waiting to see since they introduced her character all the way back in the first X-Men. Xavier also gets to show off his powers more than in previous films
So, in summary, there is a lot of awesome stuff in this movie that will satisfy your inner fanboy/fangirl that I can’t discuss without revealing spoilers. Just know that they’re there, and they’re awesome.
However, while this movie might be the most fanboy-friendly X-Men movie to date, it accomplishes this at the expense of the emotional resonance of most of the previous films. Most of the X-Men films focus pretty heavily on themes like discrimination and maintaining hope during dark times. This movie is pretty much only about a team of superheroes stopping a bad guy who wants to destroy the world. In fact, this movie feels much more like most Marvel Cinematic Universe films than it does like most previous X-Men films – it has an underdeveloped villain who wants to do bad stuff because reasons, it throws in tons of references to please comic book fans, and it’s packed with well-timed humor. While I am a huge fan of the MCU, I have not been one of the people campaigning to give the X-Men rights back to Marvel, because I felt that the X-Men films under Marvel’s control would feel a lot more like this movie than previous spectacular entries like Days of Future Past, First Class, and X2. If future X-Men films follow this trend, they may as well give the rights back to Marvel so we can at least see some cool crossovers (Avengers vs X-Men movie, anyone?) That said, I still have hope that Singer can turn the ship around with the next movie. I honestly feel that his movies work better when he’s trying to make a good movie rather than when he is trying to please the fans.
Another complaint is about Magneto. As I said, he’s probably my favorite character from the franchise, but they do some pretty weird things with him here. They give him some pretty decent motivation for why he does what he does in this movie, but I still thought that it felt like joining Apocalypse in his mission was a bit of an overreaction. You want to kill the humans that discriminate against mutants? Totally cool, bro. You want to kill human and mutant alike in an extinction level event? Not cool man, not cool.
Lastly, there is a lot of convenience in this movie. Characters happen to randomly be in the right place at the right time more than once. Also, Apocalypse’s Four Horsemen seem pretty quick to go along with his plans with pretty much no explanation. “You want to cause a mass extinction killing all but only the strongest people on earth? Okay. Can I come too?” seems to be the motivation of all except Magneto.
So, as I said, not the best X-Men film. But if you go into the movie looking for an exciting action movie rather than an intellectually stimulating film that happens to feature superheroes, you’ll have a good time.
P.S. Stay until the end of the credits.
What are your thought on X-Men: Apocalypse? Sound off in the comments section below, and be sure to use spoiler warnings when appropriate!