X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)

1:50 PM

Only the Strong Will Survive
This review contains Spoilers
 X-Men: Apocalypse is directed by Bryan Singer (X-Men: Days of Future Past, X-Men 2) and stars James McAvoy (X-Men: First Class, Filth), Michael Fassbender (Inglorious Bast*rds, Steve Jobs), Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games, Silver Linings Playbook), Oscar Isaac (Ex Machina, Star Wars: The Force Awakens), Rose Byrne (Bad Neighbours, Insidious) and Evan Peters (American Horror Story). "With the emergence of the world's first mutant, Apocalypse, the X-Men must unite to defeat his extinction level plan". X-Men have revitalised the series with Days of Future Past and First Class, can Apocalypse follow their lead?

I am surprised by how much I liked X-Men: Apocalypse - I didn't really like any of the trailers and I wasn't a big fan of Days of Future Past (I definitely didn't think it was as great as everyone thought it was). However, I preferred Apocalypse mainly for the reason it was a comic book film that didn't take itself too seriously and was actually a fun watch - Batman v Superman was dark and Civil War was darker than Marvel usually is so Apocalypse was very refreshing (the most light-hearted comic book film since Deadpool). I thought the performances were excellent and I really liked many of the characters. The visuals were brilliant - who would of thought an X-Men movie would cross into dumb-but-fun territory though? They are usually much more sophisticated and dark.

The visual effects in X-Men: Apocalypse was fantastic - the way the film was shot was visually stunning and all of the CGI was very well done. I thought all of the different powers were fantastically done - I was very impressed with how this film looked.

The main problem with this film though is its narrative and silliness. I thought the film has some pacing issues - there is almost 90 minutes of setting up and then an hour of execution - that should really be a little more balanced. However, there is action throughout which helps to make the film constantly exciting. The narrative is slightly confusing and not very clear but you do get the general gist of it after a while. I will go into more detail about this in my character breakdowns but I thought Apocalypse was an air-head and was very similar to Ultron - he was quite naive and didn't think he would have any obstacles. That moment as well when Charles says 'thanks for letting me in' and then they have a fight scene inside Apocalypse's head - this was very silly at first and made me think 'WTF'. However, as the scene goes on, I thought it was actually a pretty unique action scene so I have to give praise to Singer and the writers for coming up with the setting of that action sequence. WTF and dumb moments are common throughout this film but like I said, this is a summer film - it has everything you would want - action, humour,  heart, good visuals, good acting and it doesn't take itself too seriously. This brings me on to the point that this film is surprisingly very light-hearted - my usual problem with X-Men films is that they are too serious but this one is the opposite - I thought it was funny throughout and the general narrative was just a little silly but that isn't necessarily a bad thing.

The acting in the film is strong across the board which is surprising as it has a pretty big ensemble. Many of the actors are actually inexperienced as well so it is great to see everyone do a good job.

With big blockbusters, I usually dedicate sections to characters I loved. However, with this review, I've picked out a bunch of characters that made an impression on me and I am going to talk about them in each section - starting with Apocalypse. Apocalypse is a very strange villain - from the trailers and posters, I thought he looked stupid and just another blue X-Men character that we don't need. However, in the film, he does come across as pretty scary and powerful. During the end fight scene where he grows and becomes a giant was something that really showed how powerful he was. I thought his intentions weren't very clear and I also thought he was a very naive air head - this was his downfall. Apocalypse could just do anything - he had no limitations but then the X-Men were able to defeat him who all have their own limitations - I suppose this fits with one of the final lines which is about the X-Men being a team and him being on his own. I thought he was very pantomime-esque as a villain. Oscar Isaac did a good job - he was unrecognisable - both physically and just in general - you would never of guessed this is the guy from Ex Machina or The Force Awakens.

Officially, after watching this film, my new favourite X-Men mutant is Quicksilver. I liked him in Days of Future Past but I loved him in this. Evan Peters is fantastic - he is charismatic, likeable and charming. The only thing I will say about Quicksilver is that I don't what his role to get any bigger - they got it perfect this time around but I think the novelty may where off if his role became too big. His scene in the film tops Days of Future Past in my opinion - I thought it was hilarious and fantastic. 'Sweet Dreams' was a perfect song choice and I loved how he was saving all of the mutants whilst racing against an explosion. I just really liked him. Quicksilver also puts Apocalypse in his place towards the end of the film which is once again effective and funny.

If Quicksilver is now my favourite X-Men mutant, it means Mystique has been topped. I really loved Mystique in First Class and Days of Future Past - Jennifer Lawrence is great in the role. However, even though I still like her here and she becomes more of an important character, she doesn't really get any great action moments (except for that part where she poses as one of the Horsemen). I also would have liked to have seen more of blue-Mystique as that is where she works best. It is true that Raven is basically blonde Katniss so Lawrence gets to showcase more of a range as fully fledged blue Mystique. Lawrence still does a nice job.

I also really liked Jean Grey. I didn't really get her character until the very end where all the pieces came together and it clicked how powerful she was - she seems to be the Rey of the X-Men universe. I think Sophie Turner was fantastic in the role and after this performance, Grey could become a new audience favourite in these set of films. I liked how Grey had insecurity issues and then she came out of her shell at the end.  Cyclops was similar in this respect - I thought Tye Sheridan has redeemed himself from Scout's Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse which was awful. I liked Cyclops - I thought he was charming and just a pretty cool character.

I liked the idea of The Horsemen and I liked how they were recruited - Ben Hardy, Alexandra Shipp and Olivia Munn were all great - I particularly liked Munn's characters similarities to Wonder Woman - her purple lasso was like an evil version of Wonder Woman's golden one. Ben Hardy is from the UK soap Eastenders which rarely creates Hollywood stars - however, I was impressed with Hardy who I thought was going to not be great - he didn't really have much to do here but he was still good. Alexandra Shipp was also very good and was a great youthful double of Halle Berry. I can't talk about the 3 Horsemen without mentioning the 4th - Magneto. Michael Fassbender is great in the role and I was really touched by the death of his family - the scene was done very well - it was very effective.

Wolverine also makes a cameo in the film - I still haven't figured out where Apocalypse takes place in the X-Men universe so I don't really know where Wolverine was off to once he escaped but his brief scene was very entertaining. What X-Men: Apocalypse did well was they left the reveal that Wolverine was in the film until the very last trailer and they didn't give anything away - this was a smart move as I feel Civil War was slightly less effective by revealing so much of Spider-Man in marketing.

James McAvoy is very likeable as Charles - he just makes the character seem like such a nice guy. However, what I liked most about his character this time around was his relationship with Rose Byrne's Moira - it was charming and beautiful. Both actors did splendid jobs but one of my favourite moments in the film was when Charles gave Moira's memories back to her - the whole flashback sequence was executed perfectly and the whole moment was beautiful and powerful. That moment and Quicksilver's scene were my favourites.

X-Men: Apocalypse is a thoroughly enjoyable film that has everything you would want in a summer film. Yes, it is extremely silly and dumb at times but if you just get past that, there is a lot to enjoy. I thought all of the actors and actresses did fantastic jobs - my favourites were Evan Peters, Sophie Turner and Rose Byrne. The visual effects were brilliant but the villain was a little naive and full of himself. X-Men: Apocalypse is my second favourite film out of the new 3 so far - I really recommend it.

4 STARS
B

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