X-Men: Apocalypse (2016) – Bryan Singer

 

There’s probably a good, or at least a passable story somewhere amongst the mutants, Singer as a director has done some nice work with Marvel’s X-Men franchise in the past, but this time, it just feels like too much flash, and no substance.

To say the visual effects super-saturate this film is an understatement. There is probably only a handful of shots that aren’t augmented in some way.

On the upside, the cast is strong, and well-suited to their roles.the only exception to this may be Sophie Turner, while she looks the part of Jean Grey, her American accent falls a little flat, sad to say.

Returning to the series are James McAvoy as Professor Charles Xavier, Michael Fassbender as Erik Lehnsherr (who probably gets the best, if predictable story arc of the film), Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique, Nicholas Hoult as Hank McCoy, Rose Byrne as CIA agent Moira Mactaggert, Lucas Till as Havoc, and Evan Peters as Peter Maximoff.

Joining the mutants this time around are Olivia Munn as Psylocke, Alexandra Shipp as Ororo Munroe, Kodi Smit-Mcphee as Kurt Wagner, Tye Sheridan as Scott Summers and Star Wars’ Poe Dameron, Oscar Isaac as the big bad – Apocalypse.

Since his turns in Ex Machina and Star Wars, Isaac has quickly won me over, unfortunately, his character, like a lot of the others featured in the film, is as thin as the paper the source material is printed on.

Apocalypse has been around forever, possibly the first mutant, he has transferred his consciousness from body to body through the ages, absorbing mutant powers, becoming as close to god-like as a mutant has become. Freed from a forced hibernation, he is assembling his four horsemen, and plans to wipe out the humans of the world for falling away from him and worshiping false idols.

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That’s it. That’s his thing. And it seems he may have just found the one mutant that will allow him to connect all the other mutants in the world, Professor X.

Fans of the original comics may have long ago given up that the cinematic X-Men world would fall in line with the source material, the characters, and stories have diverged to the extreme, but the essence of the characters and the stories remain the same. So while this one may not win over hardcore comic fans, it still purports to be a fun popcorn flick.

But I think the filmmakers are so intent on making each story bigger and flashier than the last that they are sacrificing story and character development. Lehnsherr as mentioned gets the best of the story, with Mystique probably coming second (and probably the most unlike the comics) as she assumes the mantle of icon and hero for mutant kind. Others are just given small moments, there’s a hint of Jean Grey’s potential for Dark Phoenix, Xavier getting a familiar look, fan-favorite Maximoff getting another giant scene of rescuing everyone from the Mansion, and the poorly kept cameo of Hugh Jackman…

There is so much going on visually, with all the effects, that the small human (or mutant) drama moments tend to get lost, which is too bad, because it’s not the action sequences the fans come to see (well it is, but…), they want to see the characters, spend time with them.

I don’t mind a big action sequence, in fact if done right, for the service of the story, as the ones in the film tried to be, I love em! But I don’t need the world hanging in the balance all the time. Perhaps a smaller more intimate character focused story, a retake of the Dark Phoenix story so terribly maligned in X3 perhaps?

This one is far from the worst of the series, but when held up to the other Marvel film smashing the box office this summer, this one doesn’t feel up to snuff. But I do like spending time with these characters…

What did you think of it?

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