X-Men Apocalypse, directed by Bryan Singer, is the latest film in the now sixteen year old X-Men movie franchise. Early reviews of the movie were surprisingly quite negative but I tried my best to ignore them and walked into the theater with a clear mind. After successfully neglecting all externally fed opinions I walked out the cinema with pure elation thinking that the film was fantastic. I had the urge to share my feelings towards this movie with the world and slam the early reviews that were so very wrong. After deep reflection it is safe to say that X-Men Apocalypse is the definitive X-Men movie.
A boring first act? I think not
Reviews, thus far, have slammed X-Men Apocalypse for having a “slow” first 30-45 minutes that fail to grab audience members. Saying that these first 30-45 minutes were fantastic, as I believed there were, is as subjective as saying they were dull. Without making my fantastic X-Men Apocalypse cinematic experience too anecdotal or biased, being the huge X-Men fan that I am, viewers thoughts towards the movie’s opening will depend on what they wish to see. If you are searching for an action packed opening like Captain America: Civil War, you won’t find it in Apocalypse. To those who trust Singer and his characters to push the narrative forward you may find these minutes to be quite intriguing.
The first 5 minutes or so feature a backstory of Apocalypse and how the movie’s villain remains in deep slumber for more than half a millennium. Characters in this scene look different, speak different and have stranger powers to heroes we have seen in other comic book films and even the X-Men films. For a movie that follows social outcasts that are mutants, this opening sequence proves to reflect exactly how an X-Men movie should look and feel like.
The story continues and the “boring” first half of the movie presents us with character driven performances (Magneto includes the strongest of them) which catches us up with old characters, thoroughly introduces us to new one as and establishes the injustices the mutant race faces, as preceding X-Men projects have. The effect of devoting a large portion of the first act to character development proves to clarify and support
each most character’s motives in the later stages of the film.
Singer continues to explore the relatable life of a mutant
The early responses of X-Men Apocalypse have shown that either people do not fully understand the spirit of the super team or have forgotten what it truly is. The X-Men are arguably the most relatable group of heroes in Marvel Comics, possibly even DC. Like the X-Men, a lot of us may have had, possibly are having, childhoods where you were labeled as weird, perhaps due appearance or personality, simply because you differed from the constructed “social norm”. In Apocalypse, Singer, and screenwriter Simon Kinberg, continue to create a story of mutants that may resonate strongly with this demographic of mutants.
The X-Men in Apocalypse show that the best human quality is found on the inside
Kurt/Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is viewed as an animal by society (metaphorical hinted at as his introduction which sees him caged), both Jean (Sophie Turner) and Scott (Tye Sheridan) have no control over their powers and are outsiders not only to society but even to mutants. Nonetheless, these “weird” youngsters prove to have the best human qualities and evidently save human and mankind at the end of the day. And of course the film explores Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) and her battle of accepting who she is. Singer, who has asserted himself with the few comic book movie directors who understand the characters at hand, truly has captured the true essence of the X-Men which assures “outsiders” and “weirdos” to believe in that little spark inside of you, forget about what the world thinks about you and change it (perhaps even save it).
Xavier and Magneto
Charles Xavier and Erik/Magneto, played by James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender respectively, are the heart of this movie. Their performances, arguably, prove to be some of the best acting found in superhero films to date. Kinberg has created a Xavier that closely resembles the comic book iteration. Charles continues to be restless when wanting to help mutants in need and McAvoy brilliantly portrays Xavier’s compassion in moving towards a world where mutant and humankind can live in peace.
Fassbender has shown once again that he can helm the iconic villain of Magneto once again in X-Men Apocalypse. Fassbender’s performance, as well as the development of his character in the past three movies, allows the audience to side with the character as we understand his hardships and struggles so well. Instead of viewing him as the villain he is at heart, viewers may feel empathetic and side with Erik’s actions in the middle and later stages of the film.
The Quicksilver scenes in X-Men Apocalypse are some of the most fun and humorous in the movie. His scene at the mansion, debatably, outdoes his scene at The Pentagon in Days of Future Past. Undoubtedly the audience will have a blast every time Quicksilver shows up on screen.
Where the movie fails
Not too undermine Oscar Isaac’s performance, but Apocalypse is not so Apocalyptic. He seeks to redistribute rule to the powerful and evidently destroys cities. The destruction of metropolises across the globe has no real effect as they look empty and feel as if stand-ins where placed to assure that there were liveliness to them, when in reality there wasn’t. The climax which sees the complete destruction of Cairo was an act of genocide, yet doing so has no emotional consequences after the X-Men save the day. In terms of characters, some may wish that Psylocke had more dialogue as she was basically ripped right out of the comics and others may wish that Mystique would have played a less prominent role. On more of the technical side, the special effects were for some reason worse than Days of Future Past but not too bad.
Capturing the essence of comic books
To X-Men fans, X-Men Apocalypse should be a delight. The first half of the movie shows vibrancy in Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters which some may be extremely exited to see. Action sequences are bright and colorful and the costumes are loud as they should be. Singer has done what so many comic book movie directors fail to do and presented us with characters reflect the vibrancy of their comic origins which perfectly reflects how a comic book story should look like.
Like any movie X-Men Apocalypse is not perfect. The villain’s voice is ominous yet he poses no real threat and certain characters are thrown into the shadows while others are unnecessarily flung into the spotlight. Once again, the early reviews of X-Men Apocalypse are terribly wrong and fail to see how solid of a project it was. The movie took risks, which is barely done by modern Hollywood projects, and trust viewers to endure a clearly slow paced opening that builds up to a unique climatic battle. The negative responses resemble how many view mutants. Critics and society may lean more towards projects such as Captain America: Civil War, which appeal to more audiences, and struggle to accept non-formulaic and dissimilar entries into the movie industry such as X-Men Apocalypse. Please consider all that I have presented in my argument for Apocalypse, a film that needs no protection but fails to be understood by critics. X-Men Apocalypse, if watched with an open-mind, should be a truly fun cinematic experience to lovers of the comics/franchise and casual movie goers alike.
P.S. teenage versions of Jean, Scott, Nightcrawler and Storm (Alexandra Shipp) will be a delight to see.