Only MILD SPOILERS ahead. There’s nothing here that you couldn’t surmise from the trailer.
Even as a huge Comic Book Movie Fan who has Marvel leanings, X-Men is one of those franchises I’ve never really cared for. X-2 is fine, I do really like First Class, but Days of Future Past and The Wolverine are simply okay. The 1st X-Men ages terribly, while X-Men 3: The Last Stand and X-Men: Wolverine Origins are completely unwatchable. Deadpool is by the far the best film in Fox’s X-Men Universe, but that’s because it’s the only film that doesn’t feel stale and clichéd. (Did I miss any?)
That being said, I don’t feel I have a mutant prejudice. I want these movies to be good, I really do. Deadpool and First Class (and The Wolverine… sort of…) proved that these characters can work, but only when they are treated as unique, genre films that avoid the generic superhero formula that the other X-Men films follow. Deadpool was a whole new spin on the superhero genre as a whole; a deconstruction of the genre, if you will. First Class used Pre-Magneto Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) as a Bond type assassin, hunting down Nazi’s before the film slipped into classic origin story territory. The Wolverine had limited mutants and was more Samurai movie than Superhero.Even the best of the other 6 X-Men movies were average superhero films that brought nothing new to the table; not terrible (Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine were terrible, actually), but not memorable either, repeating storylines like the Weapon X program, the antagonistic “friendship” between Professor X and Magneto, and “love” triangle between Wolverine, Cyclops, and Jean Grey. Unfortunately, the latest outing, X-Men: Apocalypse is no exception, repeating yet again, many of these same story beats.
Repetition is what hits Apocalypse the hardest. Part of the problem is that the original X-Men trilogy and X-Men Origins: Wolverine used up many interesting characters just to cram new mutants into every movie, without any thought or plan put in place to continue their storyline like what Marvel has done with even minor characters like Scarlet Witch and Vision. They’re using Storm, Cyclops, and Jean Grey again? Yup, but this time it’s the origin (groan…). Haven’t I seen Nightcrawler, Angel, and Havok before? Again, yes, but they were one dimensional characters abandoned in the sequels that followed their initial appearance. As alluded to earlier with my comments about Magneto having an almost 007 like adventure in the 1st half of First Class, I’ve always found Michael Fassbender’s version to be the most interesting character in the X-Men Movie Universe (aside from ANY character from Deadpool), but here he has nothing to do. Sure, we see him with a new family that he loses (he says it right in the trailer to James McAvoy’s Professor Charlies Xavier in the trailer, so that ain’t a spoiler!), but how is this new trauma necessary when we’ve seen him losing his mother at Auschwitz twice before (with flashbacks again in this movie, for a 3rd go around)? Fassbender’s version of Magneto has been less interesting each film he’s in, so at this point his decision to go with the bad guy, and his on-again/off-again friendship with Charles are incredibly overplayed and uninteresting.
But Magneto’s just the tip of the iceberg: the film has a giant villain problem (and that’s not a reference to Apocalypse growing giant in the trailer). These bad guys are boring. Angel (Ben Hardy), Psylocke (Olivia Munn), and Storm (Alexandra Shipp) might as well not be in the movie at all. They’re left with nothing to do but pose during the dull and uninspired action scene that finally ends the film. Even worse, Apocalypse is just a boring villain, plain and simple. He wants to create a world where only Mutants survive? I haven’t seen that in about half the X-Men movies already… Oscar Isaac does nothing to elevate the part, easily making this his worst film (because he’s usually so great!). And what exactly are his super powers? I’ve seen the movie but I couldn’t tell you what he can do and what he can’t.
The heroes are stronger than the villains, as far as characterization and giving them something to do, but even this department is repetitive as hell. Oh no, Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) can’t control her powers, just the same as X-Men and X-2, and she’s not even given an origin (thankfully?). We see nearly the exact same scene of Scott Summers/Cyclops (Tye Sheridan) getting his powers that was in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. And though I couldn’t wait for the Wolverine scene from the end of the final trailer for X-Men: Apocalypse, it did give us the most animalistic version of the character, but it’s literally the same Weapon X escape we’ve seen twice before!I apologize for repeating myself, but this movie is completely repetitive on every level and I guess I want to drive that point home. Oh boy, another Quicksilver scene set to a rock song. There’s Jenifer Lawrence using her star power to avoid the Blue Paint, negating the lesson she learned in First Class about being comfortable showing her true, blue self. Oh, but here’s something new… we’ve never seen Professor X’s hair literally fall out of his head. That’s about as fresh as this movie gets.
Simply put, Apocalypse is not a bad movie, but it gives us nothing new and suffers from a weak villain and incredibly weak action. Director Bryan Singer is doing the bare minimum to bring you a safe Superhero Film that doesn’t take any risks or attempt to subvert the genre. This is the superhero genre at its most generic.
So, I will continue to wait until Fox can show me on the screen, what makes these characters so interesting in a comic panel. Except for Deadpool. Did I say I liked Deadpool? I like Deadpool.