Tuesday, June 27, 2017
Based on the Marvel Comics series, X-Men: Apocalypse is about a group of mutants who deal with an ancient being who has been awaken for many years wanting to wipe out civilization prompting members of the original X-Men to band together with new students. Directed by Bryan Singer and screenplay by Simon Kinberg from a screen story by Singer, Kinberg, Michael Dougherty, and Dan Harris, the film is a continuation of the origins story of the X-Men in which Charles Xavier/Professor X, Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto, Raven Darkholme/Mystique, and old friends guide their newer students who would become part of the new generation of X-Men. Starring James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Rose Byrne, Nicholas Hoult, Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Lucas Till, Evan Peters, Olivia Munn, Ben Hardy, Alexandra Shipp, and Oscar Isaac as Apocalypse. X-Men: Apocalypse is an extravagant though flawed film from Bryan Singer.
Set a decade after events where mutants would help save the world and prevent from the creation of sentinel robots, the film is about its aftermath where the founders of the X-Men each take on different paths once again only to unite by a new threat in a figure known as En Sabah Nur/Apocalypse is reawaken since the time of ancient Egypt where he had been betrayed by his followers. Upon his reawakening, Apocalypse sees what the world has become in 1983 as he decides to wipe out civilization and create a new one as he would take four powerful mutants including a grief-stricken Erik Lehnsherr as part of his new army. It’s a film that has a simple plot but with so much going on in Simon Kinberg’s screenplay where it is quite messy but does establish who the characters are and their part in this new adventure. Charles Xavier is still running with his school with friend Hank McCoy/Beast (Nicholas Hoult) while Raven Darkholme has gone into hiding due to events of the past as she would eventually discover a young mutant who can teleport in Kurt Wagner/Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) whom she would take him to Xavier’s school.
Kurt would be one of two new students arrive at the school as original X-Men Alex Summers/Havok (Lucas Till) would bring in his younger brother Scott/Cyclops (Tye Sheridan) who has just gotten his new powers of shooting optic beams from his eyes. The two would meet a young telepath/telekinetic student in Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) whom Scott falls for as well as Jubilee (Lana Candor) who can create psionic energy plasmoids. Yet, Raven’s arrival back to Xavier’s school isn’t just for Kurt but also about Erik who had been in hiding in Poland with a wife and daughter until an accident at work exposed him as things become tragic leading him to lose all hope and reluctantly join Apocalypse as part of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. It is in CIA agent Moira Taggart is where Xavier learns about Apocalypse as she would join him in trying to stop Apocalypse and his army that would include Ororo Munroe/Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Angel (Ben Hardy), and Psylocke (Olivia Munn). While Kinberg’s script would give some introduction to characters like Scott, Jean, Storm, and Wagner, they’re not given more to do as Storm is just an orphan who reluctantly becomes part of the Four Horseman once she meets Apocalypse who would enhance her powers.
It’s not just that the script feature so many characters, including Peter Maximoff/Quicksilver (Evan Peters) who would reveal something about his own connection with Lehnsherr that makes the story hard to keep up with. It’s just that it tries to be so many things and have all of these subplots whether it’s Xavier reuniting with McTaggart who has no recollection of their previous meetings or Raven reluctantly wanting to get back home and be an idol to the students who look up to her as an inspiration. None of it are really fleshed out while the tone of the story often ranges from being very serious to comical at times where some of the humor feels forced.
Bryan Singer’s direction is quite extravagant as it’s expected to be as it opens with this sequence about Apocalypse and the betrayal that would put him into a long sleep for many centuries. Shot largely in Montreal, Canada, the film does play into this world of 1980s culture at the time when the Cold War was still raging and there is this obsession with pop culture for a scene where Scott, Jean, Kurt, and Jubilee go to the mall as it is Kurt’s introduction into American culture. Much of the direction is quite stylish at times in terms of some of the camera angles that Singer goes for in some of the action and dramatic sequence. Yet, he keep things very straightforward when it comes to focusing on the characters as he would use close-ups and medium shots for those scenes as well as some wide shots.
While there are moments in the film such as Quicksilver’s arrival to the school in this very spectacular and fun sequence as well as a few action scenes including an appearance from a legendary X-Men character. The rest of the film is an absolute mess as it’s about trying to do so many things with the results being very underwhelming. Notably the film’s climax which features a battle between the old and new members of the X-Men against the Four Horsemen of Apocalypse in this massive battle as it is over-the-top in terms of the visual effects and the attempts to make it extremely huge. Yet, it becomes a little too much as it has Xavier battle Apocalypse in a battle of the minds while the X-Men try to deal with Apocalypse and his minions in Cairo as it’s just a mess. Overall, Singer makes a worthwhile though very bloated film about a group of mutants who try to save the world once again and defeat an ancient being who claims to be their father.
Cinematographer Newton Thomas Siegel does excellent work with the cinematography from the colorful and sunnier look of the scenes in Westchester where Xavier’s mansion is to the very sunny world of Cairo and the usage of dark and colored lights for the scenes set in Eastern Europe. Editors John Ottman and Michael Louis Hill do some nice work with the editing as it is stylish in its usage of jump-cuts and other fast-cutting styles but also know when to slow down for the non-action scenes. Production designer Grant Major, with supervising art director Michele Laliberte plus set decorators Geoffroy Gosselin and Anne Kuljian, does fantastic work with the interior of Xavier’s home as well as his Cerebro machine plus the look of the pyramid where Apocalypse did some of his greatest work in the past. Costume designer Louise Mingenbach does terrific work with the costumes from the new X-Men suits that some of the students would wear as well as the clothes that Apocalypse and his Four Horsemen would wear.
The makeup work of Charles Carter, Rita Ciccozzi, and Rosalina Da Silva do brilliant work with the look of Nightcrawler as well as Raven’s look when she’s Mystique though it’s the look of Apocalypse that is just underwhelming. The visual effects work of John Dykstra, Tim Crosbie, and Dennis Jones is quite fine in the look of some of the powers of the characters including Quicksilver’s light-speed as well as the sequence where he arrives to Xavier’s school but the look of Apocalypse as well as the film’s climax is a bit clunky visually. Sound designers Craig Berkey, Lee Gilmore, and Chuck Michael, with sound editor John A. Larsen, do superb work with the sound in the way some of the machines and powers are presented by sound as well as some of the moments in the film’s climax. The film’s music by John Ottman is wonderful for its sense of orchestral bombast in some of the action and suspense while being low-key in the dramatic moments while the soundtrack feature a lot of the music of the 80s from acts such as the Eurythmics, Venom, and Metallica.
The casting by Roger Mussenden is marvelous as it feature some notable small roles from Zeljko Ivanek as a Pentagon scientist, Tomas Lemarquis as a mutant black markets dealer in Caliban, Ally Sheedy as Scott’s teacher before his powers emerged, Berdj Garabedian as the old Apocalypse before his attempt to transfer into another being, Carolina Bartczack as Erik’s wife Magda, T.J. McGibbon as their daughter Nina, Zehra Leverman as Quicksilver’s mother, Josh Helman as the evil military official Col. Stryker, and Lana Condor as one of Xavier’s students in Jubilee who befriends Kurt and gets him to fit in. Other noteworthy small roles include Lucas Till as Alex Summers who would take Scott to Xavier’s school in the hopes his younger brother finds a place to fit in while Ben Hardy is alright as Angel as a mutant with big wings who would join the Horsemen as he wants to go after Nightcrawler for nearly wounding him. Olivia Munn’s performance as Psylocke is bland where it’s not that she’s given much to do but she doesn’t really do anything to give a compelling performance other than say lines and wield a sword. Alexandra Shipp’s performance as Ororo Munroe/Storm is alright as someone who can control the weather though her African accent at times is quite spotty.
Kodi Smit-McPhee is superb as Kurt Wagner/Nightcrawler as a teleporting mutant who is the comic relief of the new students while Evan Peters is also funny as Peter Maximoff/Quicksilver as a young mutant who arrives to the school needing some answers as he would help out the team in dealing with Apocalypse. Sophie Turner is pretty good as the young Jean Grey as a telekinetic/telepathic student who is dealing with her powers as well as being afraid of them while Tye Sheridan is terrific as Scott Summer/Cyclops as a mutant who can shoot beams from his eyes as someone new to the school as he’s learning to control his powers as well as be a leader for the next generation of X-Men. Rose Byrne is wonderful as Moira McTaggert as a CIA agent who is an old ally of the original X-Men as she helps Xavier and McCoy in her discovery on Apocalypse. Nicholas Hoult is alright as Hank McCoy/Beast as one of the original X-Men who help run the school with Xavier as well as re-establish his friendship with Raven though he is kind of underwritten in his role.
Jennifer Lawrence is fantastic as Raven Darkholme/Mystique as a shape-shifting mutant who is dealing with her role as a heroine as she reluctantly returns home only to take control when she and Xavier’s students become threatened. Oscar Isaac’s performance as En Sabah Nur/Apocalypse is definitely one of the film’s lowlights as Isaac definitely suffered through the lackluster material he’s given as well as be covered up by makeup and visual effects as it’s really a terrible performance from Isaac. Michael Fassbender is excellent as Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto as a co-founder of the X-Men who tries to start over with a family only to succumb to tragedy as he becomes consume by grief and anger where he reluctantly helps out Apocalypse. Finally, there’s James McAvoy in a brilliant performance as Charles Xavier/Professor X as a powerful telepath who tries to run a school as well as deal with Apocalypse whom he sees as a false god that has done nothing but bring fear to the people prompting him to try and stop Apocalypse from taking over his body.
X-Men: Apocalypse is a good but very flawed film from Bryan Singer. While it does have an amazing cast and some exciting moments, it’s a film that falls short due to a bland antagonist as well as its over-emphasis on visual effects for the film’s very bloated climax. In the end, X-Men: Apocalypse is a fine but underwhelming film from Bryan Singer.
X-Men Films: X-Men - X2: X-Men United - X-Men 3: The Last Stand - X-Men Origins: Wolverine - X-Men: First Class - The Wolverine - X-Men: Days of Future Past - Deadpool - Logan (2017 film) - (New Mutants) - (Deadpool 2) – (X-Men: Dark Phoenix)
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