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X-Men: Apocalypse


X-Men Apocalypse

X-Men Apocalypse is not the worst film ever, if you just want to switch your brain off completely and watch some superhero fights. The problem is, it doesn't live up to the standards set by the previous films. It doesn't even bother with the characterisations of the previous films, to the point that there is a lack of continuity and it makes the end of Days of Future Past fairly redundant. Why is Mystique not blue? Magneto has a wife and child now? Why? Just to give him yet another tragic backstory? (Or to shoehorn in events from a comic book regardless of whether they fit with the movies' characterisation). And as if that wasn't enough, we get to revisit his previous tragic backstory when Apocalypse takes him on a trip to Auschwitz. Why is Moira back, having not aged in the last twenty years? We get (re)introduced to a whole bunch of characters familiar from the first round of X-Men movies, only now they're teenagers. And some of them are on different sides. Because younger versions of familiar characters are always fun. Like Darth Vader in The Phantom Menace. Or Muppet Babies.

There is basically no plot to this movie. Apocalypse, some ancient evil mutant with ridiculously inconsistent powers and no motivation to speak of beyond a generic god complex, wants to destroy the world. There is an inherent problem with baddies that just want to destroy the world. It's a lot less interesting than the conflict we got in First Class, which actually came from the characters themselves. He goes around rounding up a few mutants, basically whoever he bumps into, and Mystique does the same, but for the forces of good, having basically turned into some kind of heroic legend among mutants, because she's Jennifer Lawrence. Then there's a fight. X-Men win. The end.

(Oh and there's a cameo from Wolverine, because that was fun in First Class, right? And you can never have too many Wolverine origin stories. Oh, wait. Also, the meeting between him and Jean Grey was weird, considering he's about three times her age at this point, and about fifteen years away from the time of the first movie in which he'll be fifteen years younger than he is now.)

The cgi in this movie is at times shockingly bad. So it's not even like you can really appreciate it on the level of nicely filmed total destruction. Even if you were into that kind of thing. Which is pretty tired and tedious as a device anyway. Also there is no need for this film to be nearly 2 and a half hours long. Really. It's like Bryan Singer has never heard the phrase 'quality over quantity'. Or perhaps just hopes by the time they get to the end the audience will have forgotten how bad the beginning was. The dialogue is not great. Charles saying he will defeat Apocalypse because "you are alone and I am not" was like a flashback to Harry Potter battling Voldemort. But without any of the emotional weight. There were two good lines, but they felt a bit too close to the bone for a movie that doesn't really have enough self-awareness in general: the much quoted, "Well, at least we can all agree the third one's always the worst." and Magneto turning to Apocalypse to say, "Who the **** are you?". Well, yes. Exactly. And what was the point of setting it in the eighties and then not using that at all?

There were three things I liked about this movie:

1. Michael Fassbender. Who is awesome. But sadly wasted in this.

2. Quicksilver. Although his scene almost verged on self-parody. And just think of the problems he could solve if he used his abilities more than once every ten years.

3. The moment when Magneto makes an X out of the metal bars to declare his allegiance to the X-Men against Apocalypse. That was a really cool moment. Although again, kind of wasted in this movie which basically just has him change his mind about destroying the world, after he's already destroyed quite a lot of it, and everyone just goes 'Oh that's alright then, you changed sides at the end'. I feel like that moment belongs in a better movie, where motivations are more plausible, characterisation is more consistent and actions have consequences.

But if you don't care about any of that and just want to see your favourite comic book characters brought on life on the screen, battling it out and saving the world, there are worse films you could watch. It's not that it's really, laughably bad. It's just not... good.