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This summer spring saw a surplus of superhero ensemble films. There was the excellent Captain America: Civil War, the embarrassingly bad Batman v Superman, and now we have the culmination of the second X-Men trilogy (?). It’s fitting, too, that this film would be the most middle of the road “meh” movie out of the three.
After helming now 4 of the 6 main X-Men films, spin-offs not included, it’s fair to say that Bryan Singer is the herald of the franchise. Though the ranking of the films will vary from person to person, it’s pretty safe to say that this film is the worst of the four, and maybe even the second worst all around, which X3 taking that shameful spot.
The parallels between Apocalypse and Batman v Superman are shockingly. That is to say, Apocalypse is about four different movies in one. This film’s saving grace, as opposed to BvS, is that at least everything that happens in this movie makes sense. But the “logic driven” story is part of this film’s undoing, in a way.
Imagine there is a magic, movie-making computer. Bryan Singer and Simon Kinberg walk up to it and say “We want an X-Men movie featuring Apocalypse as the bad guy.” The computer says “who’s in it?” and Singer says “Well, Professor X and Magneto of course” and the computer says “Describe them,” and Singer says “Professor X is in a wheelchair, but he’s not bald yet, but he will be bald in a few years, so that needs to happen. Also Magneto is victimized for being a mutant, which echoes his Holocaust origins, so maybe remind people of that. Oh, and in a few years, Storm, Cyclops, and Jean Grey are going to show up, but they’re just teenagers now. Oh, and Quicksilver should be in there too because people like his scene in the last movie. Let’s also get Beast and Mystique in there. Oh, and Psylocke and Archangel. Oh, and at this point in time, Wolverine would be undergoing his “Weapon X” transformation.”
There is a lot going on there, and the computer knocks out a movie that makes logical sense, but is full of just…unnecessary detours that exist solely to include every element imaginable. The film is incredibly frustration to watch, as there are many segments that exist in the film for no reason whatsoever. The gang takes a twenty minute detour to Stryker’s lab JUST so we can get a Wolverine tie-in. There a five minute slow motion scene with Quicksilver JUST so we can get another “Quicksilver listens to music and does stuff” scene. We watch another tragedy with Magneto JUST so we can be reminded of his stance on Mutants in the world.
So many of these detours are retreads of things we’ve seen in prior movies. You can call it continuity if you want, but it’s continuity for continuity’s sake, and it ultimately leaves the film wildly without focus. Furthermore, these different stories are incredibly tonally inconsistent. Jean Grey, Cyclops, and Nightcrawler have a fun, wacky, “teenagers learning to use their powers” that works really well on its own, but when put against a heart-breaking Magneto scene it feels really out of place. Likewise, the apocalyptic vision of the future lacks all gravity when Quicksilver zooms around the house to another 80’s tune.
This movie could have gone one of three ways…an Apocalypse movie featuring the classic X-Men villain, another Magneto v. Professor X ideological standoff, or a coming of age action adventure featuring the teenage heroes. All three could have worked independently, but the movie collapses under the weight of all three.
This film, unfortunately, is transparent as all hell when it comes to many of the character decisions. Mystique is a villain, but because she’s played by Jennifer Lawrence, she’s a hero and rarely ever blue. Nicholas Hoult is popular too, so let’s make sure his blue fur is kept to a minimum, despite the fact that “keeping his power ‘under control’” is counter to everything that the X-Men stand for. Many of these veteran actors, as well, give some of the most sub-par performances I’ve ever seen. Jennifer Lawrence, maybe after sick of wearing blue paint, phones in her performance the entire film and Michael Fassbender seems to be bored out of his mind, as well. The younger actors give it their all, which is great, but the lack of effort on the part of the mainstays make it look like nobody wanted to even make this film.
And looking towards the future…it’s really hard to see where they are going to take this story. We’ve now had six main X-Men movies, and they’re starting to encroach on one another. When I hear about how the next X-Men is going to take place in the 90’s, I think to myself “No! We’ve already had an X-Men that takes place in the 90’s. It’s called X-Men!” The timeline to these films is messed up almost beyond repair at this point.
The movie isn’t a complete flat-line thanks to Bryan Singer’s direction. Even if the timeline doesn’t make perfect sense, it directs your attention to all the right places at all the right times. Nothing feels wrong with the movie, like in BvS, but so much of it is just… unnecessary. You could argue that this is a film “for the fans”. And by “fans” I mean people who eat, sleep, and breath X-Men. To them, this film may work perfectly. A normal superhero movie would theoretically be the big “event” comic of the year. The Avengers movies are the big crossover events that happen every summer and, theoretically, that’ll be the same thing that the Justice League is too. That’s what this X-Men movie should have been. We got that, but we also got every single tie-in comic that comes with it. It’s just a lot to do in two hours and, unfortunately, it just doesn’t quite nail it.
Bryan Singer puts a joke in this movie that the third film is always the worst, taking, of course, a stab at X3. Unfortunately, the rule holds true for this trilogy too.
Alex Russo has already forgotten about this movie. You can remind him about it on Twitter.