X-Men: Apocalypse — A Full Review


Written by Guest Contributor: C. Dillon

The latest X-Men film, “X-Men: Apocalypse,” isn’t the best X-men movie, but neither is it the worst. It does many things right, but somehow the whole seems less than the sum of its parts, and leaves the viewer feeling as though they’ve been entertained, but not fully satisfied.

X-Men_Apocalypse_International_PosterDirector Bryan Singer introduced the world to the cinematic versions of Marvel’s mutant heroes back in 2000, with the critically and financially successful “X-Men.” He returned to direct the sequel “X2” in 2003, and again for “X-Men: Days of Future Past.” As these films are widely regarded as the best in the franchise, it was with great anticipation that fans awaited the appearance of the titular villain in Singer’s directorial hands. Unfortunately, the film – while visually striking and immense in scope – doesn’t fully deliver.

It doesn’t help that this is the third comic based movie this year to feature “good guys” fighting against one another – we’ve seen it in “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Captain America: Civil War” (will we ever see a comic movie without a colon in it again?), and we see it again here. In this case, characters who have been X-men in the comics (and even in earlier movies) fight against characters who are or will be X-men, in an “all X-men X-travaganza.” While this isn’t necessarily bad, it is become a tired trope already.

Which leads us to another problem – the film spends a great deal of time showing us how En Sabah Nur recruits his Horsemen (Storm, Angel, Psylocke, and Magneto), but then gives them all (save Magneto) very little to do. Aside from bit parts in the final fight, the three non-Magneto Horsemen do nothing besides stand behind Apocalypse and try to look menacing. It is a waste of time in the film, and a waste of opportunity in having these characters actively contribute to the plot.

This can be understood, to some extent, however, because there are simply so many characters. With the X-men franchise seeming to change timelines with each new outing, new characters are introduced, old characters are reintroduced, new versions of old characters are re-reintroduced, and so on. It is confusing for someone who grew up with the comics and has seen all the films – I can only imagine what a casual viewer must be thinking. While the impulse to include every fans favorite character is understandable, it reaches a point where it detracts from the film as a whole. Olivia Munn’s Psylocke in particular is criminally underused, considering how big a part she has played in the marketing of the film to date.

This is not to say that “X-men: Apocalypse” is a bad film. It isn’t. The effects are well done, the characters are generally well cast, the acting is as good as can be expected in a comic book blockbuster. There are some stand-out moments as well – Quicksilver’s main scene, Kodi Smit-McPhee’s portrayal of young Nightcrawler, and many of the inside jokes and Marvel references are all very well done.

Apocalypse himself checks all the right boxes as the “big bad” of the movie – vague plans for destroying humanity, undefined but seemingly overwhelming power, crazy costume and blue skin – but he seemed a bit generic for such a major player in the comics. I do not agree with the common complaint that he was “too easy” to defeat (to describe why would be too much of a spoiler), but I would have liked to have seen more character development than the “humans are bad, and I’m going to kill them all so I can rule the world” routine that we have seen from so many uber-villains before. It is a major pitfall of these types of franchises that each instalment must raise the stakes over the previous one, and it sometimes (as here) fails to make the appropriate impact. Marvel has proven that “smaller” superhero movies can succeed (see: “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” for a prime example), and it would be interesting to see the X-Men go in a similar direction, rather than seeing them face global annihilation over and over again.

In the end, I left the theater feeling that I had seen a good superhero movie, complete with massive action sequences, cool costumes, some good one-liners, and a few interesting characters that I would like to see again. I hope that Mr. Singer and the rest of the crew running the X-Men franchise stop and step back for a moment, reduce the amount of characters, and focus on telling a great story rather than a great spectacle.

X-MEN: Days of Future Past — A Full Review


In July 2000, when the original X-Men was released, the multiplex was a very different place as far as superheroes were concerned. Sam Raimi’s Spiderman was two years away, Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins was even further down the pike and Marvel had yet to develop its own features, so Iron Man and the rest of the Avengers were not even on the horizon. But X-Men was a clever, sharply directed film with just the right amount of tongue-in-cheek humor as well as reverence to the source material.

Fourteen years, several sequels and two standalone offshoots later, we have X-Men: Days of Future Past, a film that collects all its characters and actors into one megasized package, a la The Avengers, but developed outside the Marvel stable. And with Captain America, Thor, Iron Man and seemingly every other superhero dropped into the theaters on what seems like a weekly basis, is there something new that the X-Men can bring to the table? The answer is not exactly, but that isn’t a bad thing. In short – you get what you want, and a little bit extra.

Opening with a flashy and loud action sequence with zero exposition, the film already has to catch up with itself only 10 minutes in. However, once the fireworks die down, it’s laid out for us: In the future, evil drones called Sentinels, which can resist the special powers that the mutants can dish out, have ripped civilization asunder and demolished all the worlds’ capitals. Only the few remaining X-Men, including Professor X (Patrick Stewart), Magneto (Ian McKellen), Storm (Halle Berry) and Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) have allied themselves to fight the Sentinels. But mutant Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) has the ability to zap the other mutants back in time, so Wolverine volunteers himself to get transported back to the early 1970s, where fashion is loud and mutants still live incognito.

If ever there was an actor who was truly meant for a character, it would have to be Jackman and Wolverine. Bringing just the right balance of snarling rage and sardonic humor, Jackman is the series’ MVP – whether in his spinoff movies or with the other mutants. However, since the bulk of the film does take place in the past, it means that Stewart, McKellan and Berry take the back seat while the younger versions of Professor X (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) carry the bulk of the action, along with Beast (Nicholas Hoult), who appears to be a furry, blue version of The Hulk, and Raven aka Mystique, played by Jennifer Lawrence, who proves just as adept at karate kicks in blue body makeup as she does with a bow and arrow.

The thrust of the story involves the remainder of the X-Men trying to prevent Mystique from assassinating a scientist (“Game of Thrones’” Peter Dinklage), which will bring about the war between the Sentinels and the mutants, and the usual set pieces come into play: lengthy close quarters battle scenes, standoffs with monstrous robots, and a floating baseball stadium thrown in for good measure. Are any of these particularly groundbreaking or inventive? My answer is no, but at the same time the story moves at a fast enough clip, and the dialogue-driven scenes are compelling enough to make the exposition more palatable.

Returning to the director’s chair this time is Bryan Singer, who directed both the first film and 2003’s X-Men United. After the most recent installment, 2011’s X-Men First Class, helmed by Matthew Vaughn, Singer’s return gives the proceedings a welcome jolt, and though I had trouble keeping the myriad of mutants straight, the film provides enough diversion without making you feel guilty about it.

So, no, there’s nothing really new here. But then again, I enjoyed X-Men: Days of Future Past for hitting all the right beats, and leaving the door open for the series to continue even further.

James McAvoy Will Star in X-Men: First Class —I’m Unhappy

James McAvoy has signed on for the new X-Men film, which is said to be a prequel to the franchise.   McAvoy is one of my favorite actors and I hate the fact that he’s transitioning from being a character actor to a big box office star.  I realize the man has to eat, and the easiest way to make money is starring in big budget films, but I thought he was already in a position to pick and choose his roles based on quality.  He was in ‘Atonement’ and ‘The Last King of Scotland,’ and now this?  I’m disappointed. 

Brett Ratner Insists ‘X-Men 3’ Was a Good Movie

Let me start this post by explaining that I am deliberately picking on Brett Ratner because I have it on VERY good authority that he is the biggest douchebag on the planet.  That being said, in an interview with Iesb to promote his remix of ‘Kites’, Ratner was asked if he’d change anything about ‘X-Men 3’ if he had it to do over.  His response?  “No. I loved it! I’m right, and they’re wrong.”  Wow, so he’s now a dumb douchebag?  ‘X-Men 3’ was one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen, and he single handedly tanked the entire franchise.  I’m glad he learns from his mistakes. 

Bryan Singer is Returning to X-Men

This is very good news for X-Men fans. Bryan Singer is returning to the franchise to direct ‘X-Men: First Class.’ Singer basically created the franchise, by writing the story for the original ‘X-Men’ film and directing both ‘X-Men’ and ‘X2.’ Brett Ratner then nearly destroyed Singer’s brainchild, with ‘X-Men: The Last Stand.’ Singer will hopefully resurrect it from the dead.