Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence
Director: Bryan Singer
Running Time: 144 mins
X-Men: Apocalypse is an American film following the X-Men as they team up from all around the world to defeat the first mutant who ever existed: the all-powerful Apocalypse, who threatens to destroy the human world and replace it with a better mutant planet.
Since the Marvel Cinematic Universe came into being in 2008, the superhero genre has undergone an incredible revolution. Nowadays, we’re getting numerous top-quality comic book movies year on year, so when one that doesn’t quite match that comes along, it feels immensely disappointing, which is unfortunately the case with X-Men: Apocalypse.
Before I get into why, however, I want to say that this isn’t a terrible film. It’s still got some great moments, the introduction of new characters like Jean Grey, Nightcrawler and Cyclops is great to see, and, had it been released twenty years ago, it wouldn’t seem so poor.
However, modern superhero movies are so much more than just bad guys and good guys, and you need far more depth in a story to make an entertaining film. X-Men: Apocalypse, however, delivers a clunky, convoluted plot almost completely devoid of emotional depth, good characterisation or comic relief, and at nearly two and a half hours long, it’s a real slog to get through.
My biggest issue with the film comes in the form of its narrative. Although it does improve by the end of the film, the first hour and twenty minutes are very poor. Spanning between Apocalypse’s creation millennia ago and the 1983, where the main story takes place, the film spends far too long flying to and fro around the world establishing various different characters’ back stories, and it turns the film into a mess.
Yes, the plot eventually centres its focus in the final act as it heads towards the inevitable final battle, but for a good half of the whole movie, it’s very difficult to get grounded on what’s going on in the greater scheme of things, which is surprising considering how well Singer’s Days Of Future Past managed to handle its even more complex plot.
Another problem with the film is that it feels very lifeless. One of the reasons that First Class remains my favourite X-Men film is because it had a sense of fun to it as well as being an impressive action spectacle. Apocalypse does have its obligatory Quicksilver scene (which is brilliant), but apart from that, there’s very little sense of fun here, making it almost as brooding a film as Zack Snyder’s DC movies, which was not great to see.
But sometimes, with a degree of emotional depth and intrigue, a superhero film can still pull off a dark atmosphere. Again, however, Apocalypse fails to deliver. Throughout the whole film, there’s only one scene early on with a proper emotional power, which makes the rest of the movie feel very stagnant, so I just wasn’t able to get excited and wrapped up in the story.
In the end, X-Men: Apocalypse is a big disappointment. Being a big, action-packed blockbuster that lacks any real intelligence or depth, it feels like it was made for release in 2003, but given the high quality that so many expect from superhero films nowadays, a film that comes across as a very stale, lifeless spectacle just can’t impress. It’s got its moments, but it’s generally a big disappointment, and that’s why X-Men: Apocalypse gets a 6.6 from me.