Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence
Director: Bryan Singer
Screenplay: Simon Kinberg, Bryan Singer
Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi, Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 144 minutes
Release Date: May 27, 2016
Scott, it looks like we have another movie with superheroes battling superheroes.
What’s with the movie industry’s obsession with superheroes self-destructing? Let’s recap.
In the prologue for this movie, we see an ancient civilization performing a ritual inside a pyramid. A giant figure of a man (Apocalypse played by Oscar Isaac) is transporting his essence into another body to extend his life and gain more super powers. But his followers have another plan. They destroy the pyramid, capturing him for millennia.
Then one day, some time in 1983, archeologist and past flame of Professor Xavier (James McAvoy), Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne) discovers the ruins and inadvertently wakes up the sleeping giant. Now he is searching for 4 mutants who will act as his henchmen in a quest to take over the world.
One of these mutant henchmen is Angel (Ben Hardy) whom Apocalypse enhances with steel wings. Another is Magneto (Michael Fassbender) who enjoys the power of metal-bending. Meanwhile, Professor Xavier is helping a new mutant recruit, Scott Summers (Tye Sheridan), to develop his optic superpowers. Xavier consults with CIA agent Moira Mactaggert (Rose Byrne) about the looming threat of Apocalypse.
Scott, the superhero vs. superhero pattern is getting a lot of attention this year. Of course, most of the X-Men movies pit X-Men against other X-Men. It’s just that this year we’ve seen it in Batman v Superman, Captain America: Civil War, and even Deadpool. I’m getting superhero fatigue. This movie even seems fatigued in the way the actors and the story plays out. It drags along with Apocalypse pulling together his team of “horsemen” while Mystique and Professor X build their team. This is very much a long origin story that somehow doesn’t seem to match up with the first X-Men movie. I wasn’t excited.
I share your disappointment, Greg. There are actually some fun elements in this movie, but the build-up to them is laborious and unoriginal. Your description of the problem as fatigue is right on the mark. It seems like we can’t go a month without a new superhero movie, and now that each new offering involves the heroes fighting one another, I’m becoming increasingly bored.
Part of the problem with this film is that our heroes take a backstage to the villain Apocalypse. He gets a lot of screen time, which isn’t a bad idea if he were multidimensional and interesting. But he isn’t. He’s pure evil and therefore not deserving of the amount of attention devoted to him. None of our X-Men heroes have much depth to them either, nor do they exude the charisma of Iron Man or even Captain America. There’s a lot of stuff going on but I just couldn’t find myself caring much about it all.
One bright spot is Apocalypse as a Dark Mentor. He picks up Storm and imbues her with more power than she started with. And he teaches the others how to use their powers for evil rather than good. But his choice of mentees seems haphazard. He doesn’t really do a CraigsList ad looking for the most powerful or qualified mutant. Rather, he appears to pick the first mutant who crosses his path. It’s pretty uninteresting.
X-Men: Apocalypse is a disappointment and offers only modest entertainment value. I give it just 3 out of 5 Reels for superhero action. The heroes are pretty ordinary. Even Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) seemed to be walking through this role. There was a nice cameo by Wolverine (Hugh Jackman). But there were hardly any meaningful transformations. I give these X-Men just 3 out of 5 Heroes. Finally, the mentoring was mainly on the evil side of the fence and that was pretty uninteresting. I give the mentors 2 out of 5 Mentor points.
Greg, I think the overwhelming success of the superhero genre in film has movie studios foaming at the mouth to spew out more products. Well, they’ve now hit the saturation point. We’ll still support and applaud good superhero movies that are well-crafted and feature meaningful storylines that go beyond superheroes fighting each other. Until then, we’re going to have to be critically honest about movies that just don’t move us. I give X-Men: Apocalypse 2 Reels out of 5.
The heroes were blasé, almost like they were going through the motions. The young Charles Xavier was the most mildly interesting of the bunch. But as you point out, there isn’t meaningful change in our heroes, unless you include the “baldification” of Xavier. We may need to add “scalp transformation” to our next model of heroes. I give these heroes a rating of 2 out of 5. Good call on the dark mentorship of Apocalypse. Xavier also attempted some mentorship of the young mutant recruits, but none of it was inspired. Again, I give their mentorship a rating of 2 out of 5.