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X-Men: Apocalypse – Joint Review


Release Date: 27 May 2016 [USA]
Director: Bryan Singer
Writer: Simon Kinberg [Screenplay] - Bryan Singer - Simon Kinberg - Michael Dougherty - Dan Harris [Story]
Cast: James McAvoy - Michael Fassbender - Jennifer Lawrence - Nicholas Hoult - Oscar Isaac - Rose Byrne - Evan Peters

Posted May 21, 2016 by

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X-Men: Apocalypse – Joint Review

Alston’s Perspective:

2016 is most saturated superhero year till date and with both DC and MARVEL’s two Clash of the Titans blockbusters, both of which have proven to be a success and a disappointment, we have two more to look forward to: DC’s Suicide Squad and MARVEL’s Doctor Strange. Beneath the uprising smoke from this ageing war between the two studios lies FOX’s red flag waving its X-Men title in our face, once again.

Also, WARNING! This is potentially a spoiler review although if you would rather sit and read this review over watching the second X-Men: The Last Stand, stick around, minions.

X-Men: Apocalypse is the third film in the X-Men prequels trilogy and the ninth instalment in the franchise. It continues the story, taking place 10 years later, where peace exists between both mutants and humans, at least on a superficial level. Amidst the silence, an ancient mutant Apocalypse awakes from his unearthly slumber and decides to enforce his reign over the world once again with the help of The Four Horsemen. The X-Men come together to face the godly mutant and prevent him from sending the world back to the stone age.

If you are the kind of Marvel fan to catch a post-credits scene, you know that the previous movie hinted at the rise of ‘En Sabah Nur’ in an era that predates ours. Resulting in an expected opening that shows a less Oscar Issac-y Apocalypse and a more skinny Robert De Niro in ancient Egypt, he is treated like a God and showered with hymns and parades by thousands of people. The character is revealed fully and seconds later is betrayed his people who bury him, which is visually jarring to watch as it slowly starts to look more like an animated film which possesses one of the most disappointing introductions to an all mighty character in the X-Men universe.

The beauty of these mutant movies lies not within these characters who make us tear up with their dark humor, but within ones who are almost fully relatable. The rich character building techniques of this franchise have allowed audience members to connect and empathize with people who are different, and who are sometimes a clear reflection of ourselves. Sadly, this movie delivers just the opposite.

Their primary focus is on the relationship between Eric Lehnsherr and Charles Xavier. With First
Class and Days of Future Past, we witness the birth of a friendship that stands on the four legs of conflict, and how they choose to fight each other on either side of the fence thus becoming what my girlfriend calls, ‘frienemies’. The ‘threequel’ does little to nothing with the two of them, and tosses in a few pathetic and overused phrases from Xavier to convince his friend not to join the dark side, those which we have seen countless times over a span of six films.

Complaints about Apocalypse rising from his grave, seeing the world looking like crap and deciding to white wash it surface very early, making the climax quite irritable and not because we are about to witness another genocide movie which matches down to the likeness of Man of Steel. He is the shiny toy, the blue Apocalyptic man, who comes across more creepy and sexually frustrated with a ‘climax-y’ ring to his voice as he rolls his eyes all over his horsemen with shuddering responses such as ‘I want you’. Cringe-worthy as it may seem, it is uncertain as to how a 3600 BC godly man behaved and how he would in today’s world, which gives way to this being the closest it will be to the real thing. If you happen to be the opposite of a comic book fanatic and a movie buff, you will find Oscar Isaac to be so perfect, he is almost undetectable until someone whispers who he is into your ear, which might leave you confused.

Already looking like a moving train wreck, almost every old cast member seems bored, particularly Jennifer Lawrence’s Raven aka Mystique and Nicholas Hoult’s Beast, who find themselves running through the movie for old time’s sake. The lighter side of the movie lies in the fresh blood recruits which includes Scott Summers aka Cyclops, Jean Grey and Night Crawler, who are blooming in their early years. The familiar face of Game of Thrones’ Sansa Stark played by Sophie Turner plays a younger, more likable Jean Grey, with layers to her personality as opposed to an expressionless Famke Janssen, and remains the highlight with respect to the huge turn of events that unfold in the last quarter (too many spoilers if revealed.)

Revisiting the Xavier School for the gifted, the X plane and phrases which include “Goodbye, old friend” which was cleverly used by James McAvoy, who pays homage to Patrick Stewart’s version of Xavier while talking to Eric, are quite recognizable moments that are not forgettable. Mimicking Deadpool’s attempts at cracking jokes about the studio works well along with the rest of the humor offered. Seems like Fox knows about their mess-ups and enjoys occasionally wearing the dunce hat for people to poke fun at. Appealing visual imagery is the front seat driver of the movie, which is depicted from the very start.

The heat behind this movie gains momentum and we forget the positive elements of the movie as the cons outweigh the pros. Singer scraps too much reminiscent dust all over in the hopes for the surfacing of nostalgic feelings towards X-Men, X-Men 2 and Days of Future Past, giving little room for proper story progression. Making things worse, QuickSilver gets his second crack at the enjoyable 5 minutes of slow motion fame yet again. Repetition is a word that follows the movie along with unwanted yet pleasing fillers which include the reveal of Wolverine and his killing spree which was a poorly filmed, horribly choreographed dance, giving it the look of a parody of sorts.

The Four Horsemen 2.0 consists of Angel, Psylocke, Storm and Magneto who look like a bad 80’s rock band that went haywire after smoking the wrong stuff and who happen to like body armor. It is revealed that Apocalypse is behind their dress embroidery, proving to be a terrible fashion designer and tattoo artist as he comes up with face designs that resemble voltage lines from a physics textbook.

Corny lines and cheap CGI that is clearly outsourced, the circle is now complete with ditch holes and bumps. Unlike its predecessors which carry real world, political and social issues that create a sense of realism, it falls short and focuses on the uprising of a Godly creature who means to rule the world, which is familiar to us already. FOX likely knew they had the next Fantastic Four on their hands and threw away the need for marketing, RIP marketing department. Mistakes are widely obvious and unjustified, one being Mystique’s leather suit disappearing abruptly during the climax. Furthermore, John Ottman scores a rather disheartening soundtrack which came as quite a surprise.

Bryan Singer has wrought an apocalypse onto the franchise that he has taken so many years to carefully perfect, destroying everything he and all of us have ever loved and drops the mic only because metaphorical tomatoes are being thrown at him. With his successful attempt at realigning the timeline in Days of Future Past, he adds on, praising The Last Stand indirectly and deems his earlier contributions to the franchise as irrelevant, almost making it seem like we are watching a reboot with the same actors. Noisy, dull and an unwanted, it barely thrives and will either crack you up momentarily or have you finding your head hanging down. Surely bearable, it is a disappointment when they have served us the likes of the last two films. It is clear, MARVEL needs to assist or take back their characters yet again, so the world can be a better place once more. 16 years on X-Men have all gone down the drain, what a waste.

Written by:


Alston Rodrigues
The Artsypant – Facebook Page
Freelance Contributor


Michael’s Perspective:

It’s been a decade since Mystique saved President Nixon from Magneto, all under the coverage of the world’s media. The presence of mutants was announced dramatically to the world. While receiving lukewarm acceptance, mutants are still discriminated against in secret.

Meanwhile in Egypt, a mysterious cult has unearthed and awoken a very ancient and powerful mutant whose presence may signal the end of the world as humankind knows it.

An early scene introduces us to Scott Summers as his destructive involuntary powers emerge, reminiscent of Anna Paquin’s very first scene from the very first X-Men. Apocalypse harks back several times to past instalments, much to the movies detriment.

Quickly we meet Cyclops, Angel, Nightcrawler, Storm, the movie’s titular big bad Apocalypse and more. This is on top of revisiting many characters from the previous two X-prequels. Before long, you have a ridiculous cast size.

You could easily forget that First Class took place 20 years before because no one seems to age. Havok is now Cyclops’ older brother (by a large gap), Quicksilver is somehow still in his mother’s basement and Magneto has cut out a paper-thin family for himself.

While McAvoy and Hoult fit comfortably back into Xavier and Beast respectively (Shout out to Evan Peters, who once again steals the show with the only memorable scene), Fassbender and Lawrence miss their marks. The mediocre writing is to blame. Magneto continues to be the most flaky mutant ever and Mystique’s plotline end’s up a Young Adult derivative. A freedom fighter who preaches about heroics; sounds like Lawrence’s other role. Only blue.

As for Apocalypse himself, he is as puzzling as the Old Testament. His powers are never explicitly described and he wants to destroy the world simply…because? Oscar Isaac was a curious (and unrecognisable) choice. While playing pantomime admirably at times, Apocalypse may have been better in the hands of an older thespian. Ian McDiarmuid? Morgan Freeman? Bill Nighy?

X-Men Apocalypse’s greatest sin is that it is boring. Entire cities begin to disintegrate and humongous pyramids materialise from thin air in a bloated and weightless CGI storm. The writers even managed to make Quicksilver, a fan favourite, wade through a boring subplot (that doesn’t get resolved anyway.) The composition is an absolute mess. There are several references to the first two X-movies and all they do is make you wish you were watching those instead. One conversation between Xavier and Magneto is lifted literally word-for-word from the first movie’s final scene. We pay a contrived visit to Alkali Lake where a useless cameo waits (guess who).

While X-Men: The Last Stand is poor with hindsight, Apocalypse is immediately bad. There’s too much too fast and too little to care about. Sad now that Bryan Singer, who has turned out the best X-Men episodes, now has turned out arguably one of the worst. The gene pool’s been spoiled.

Written by:


Michael Keyes
Silences Band
Full Contributor


Abigail’s Perspective:

10 years on from Magneto’s failed attack on the president and the consequential time reset that wiped the events of the original series from existence, peace has settled upon the world of the mutants. Raven for one is not entirely satisfied with the superficial treaty that has formed, but when a God-like mutant from millennia past rises from his deep slumber, the tranquillity is destroyed, throwing mutants and non-mutants into the midst of another conflict.

The film opens on a dramatic monologue from Xavier over the dunes of Ancient Egypt, setting the tone for the dark, resonant themes to follow. We are introduced to the origin of our villain with all the hallmarks of the Egyptian setting before meeting our heroes, a surprising initiation perhaps for those not familiar with the franchise. This is followed by a series of deaths that pass with such speed and finality that I’m torn between horror and the urge to laugh. The scene is intense for the introduction and prepares us for the action-packed experience ahead.

The production value is breathtaking. The film is an assault on the senses and the emotions, the script and performances driven by emotional energy. The plot however is loaded, making it difficult to ingest all that occurred.

The film seems reminiscent of Days of Future Past, although that is my impression having not seen the film since it was in the cinema. I was equally blown away by both offerings and the execution is superb, but I can’t shake the feeling that we’re covering the same ground between Charles Xavier and Erik/Magneto.

The film is interspersed with wonderful moments of humour. Xavier’s musings on his favourite tree as it crashes to the ground, riven in two by Scott’s optic beams, earned a chuckle from the audience, and Quicksilver’s mass rescue of the students in Xavier’s school is as brilliantly done as his prison break sequence in the previous film.

I particularly enjoyed the little nod towards the 1983 setting as Jean, Scott, Jubilee and Nightcrawler leave the screening of Return of the Jedi and Jean remarks, “at least we can all agree the third one is always the worst.” A little jab at his own franchise from Bryan Singer there?

While the film is certainly not a disappointment to me, this statement may be true to a degree in this case. X-Men: First Class did a great job of introducing the characters, though the action seems mediocre in comparison to its follow-ups as I personally can’t remember what happened. X-Men: Days of Future Past was intense, clever and emotionally charged. The film superbly blended the fictional world of the mutants and the real-life politics of the day, was stunningly constructed and very ambitious. During this third film I couldn’t shake a sense of deja-vu. It has the same grandeur as its predecessor and is hugely entertaining to watch, but as Magneto levitated over the ruins, disintegrating everything in and out of sight, particular focus being granted to the destruction of the Sydney Opera House, I felt as if I was watching a repeat of Magneto’s levitating trick with the sports stadium 10 years earlier in the story’s timeline. We seem to be following a theme, as every story results in some extinction level plan. It delivers for the same reasons as the Days of Future Past, but how much is original?

The standout element of this instalment that separates it from all the others is the introduction of the new characters. The young cast are fantastic. If the rumours I found circulating last year are true and the current cast are preparing to step backwards and leave centre stage for the new generation of young, bright X-Men, the franchise looks to be in safe hands.

I’m biased towards Sophie Turner, being a local from my hometown and fellow member of a youth theatre I attended for 12 years. I follow her career eagerly and was delighted at the announcement of her role in the X-Men franchise, propelling her along a path with the likes of Jennifer Lawrence. Her career is already dazzling based on Game of Thrones alone but her future looks even brighter. Sophie played the insecure figure of Jean Grey beautifully, and truly shone in the incredible battle sequence towards the end. I was pleased at Jean’s prominence and look forward to the future of the character.

Tye Sheridan brings a strong, likeable portrayal of Scott Summers and I will be on his lookout in the future. Jennifer Lawrence is fantastic as always. She is one of my favourite actresses, and it’s safe to say the reason I originally got into the X-Men franchise.

All the central performances are delivered with enough conviction and integrity to keep me on the edge of my seat and rooting for every character. I can’t comment on the characters or storylines in relation to their original series or comic counterparts, as I am not familiar with them. It could be argued that with so many characters and plot points to cover there isn’t enough time to develop the characters, particularly the new ones. I wasn’t personally aware of much that appeared overtly unaddressed but I wouldn’t complain about more character development, and I look forward to seeing this emerge in future instalments.

I went to see the film with a friend who is new to the franchise and she couldn’t stop proclaiming about the ‘deep moral statements’ the film posed such as “what keeps us fighting for good when doing good can hurt us?” If we are going down the route of themes and real world allegories, there is a lot more to be discussed. Overall this was thoroughly engaging piece of cinema that offers plenty of food for thought.

Written by:


Abigail Robinson
Work Experience Contributor


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