X-Men: Apocalypse

Donovan Maudsley - 3A Mechanical
Posted on: June 3, 2016

If I could only use one word to describe X-Men: Apocalypse it would be “Epic”. Thankfully, I can use more than that. The third chapter of the reboot/prequel X-Men series lacks the finesse of First Class and the depth of Days of Future Past, but it makes up for it in grand style. Clearly a summer blockbuster, Apocalypse brings massive set pieces and full teams of combatants to the silver screen. If I’m being completely honest, the third act was a total mess, but I still enjoyed it. A long standing  love of the X-Men means that I’m more accepting of large stretches of X-Men doing X-traordinary things than most viewers.

Apocalypse begins with a cool sequence from the past, with the title character in his assumed role as the god-ruler of Egypt and preparing to transfer his consciousness into another body. During this, he is ambushed by rebels and is stuck in a meditative state until he is awoken in the 80s by CIA agent Moira MacTaggert. This awakening is what kick-starts the plot, with four strong and angry mutants becoming Apocalypse’s Horsemen and everyone else in the world trying to figure out exactly what’s going on. The events of Days of Future Past are frequently mentioned throughout the first act, with Mystique being shown as a hero among mutants and Magneto almost universally feared.

Overall, Apocalypse the character was underwhelming. The Apocalypse source material shows him as having diverse and interesting powers, but they only ever really show his telekinesis, heightened reflexes, and his ability to augment other mutants’ powers. He was essentially just a bullet sink for the majority of his action sequences. Sure, moving matter on a molecular level is pretty cool, but grew a bit stale by the end. Apocalypse’s Horsemen were also underutilized.

Angel begins as a cage fighter, tearing other mutants apart for money. He hits rock bottom after his wings are injured, but Apocalypse replaces them and strengthens him even more. He should have been a high flying terror against the X-Men, but only really fought against Nightcrawler. One cool little thing was his musical taste. When Apocalypse recruits him, he is listening to “The Four Horsemen” by Metallica.

Psylocke is given such sparse screen time that I almost forgot about her. The opportunity for a highly choreographed fight between her and Beast was there, but disappointed. Apocalypse also reaches out to Magento, whom he needed to further his plans. Blinded by rage, Magneto joins the cause willingly.

Lastly is Apocalypse’s first recruit, Storm, played by Alexandra Shipp. Shipp is really able to channel the anger and angst that her character would have been feeling at this time, and gives the best performance out of all the Horsemen. For anyone keeping track, all of the Horsemen are characters that have typically been aligned with the X-Men, which I thought was a little cheap. There are many villainous characters that haven’t been shown on screen which would have made amazing Horsemen. Off the top of my head comes Post, an adaptive mutant who has had many different power sets over the years. Pyro would have also made a good addition to Apocalypse’s roster.

The strongest point of Apocalypse is its depictions of the new, young, X-Men. The establishment of the Jean Grey-Cyclops dynamic is clumsy at times, but still charming. Nightcrawler was my favourite part of the new roster. While keeping him timid and shy, Kodi Smit-McPhee still shows off Nightcrawler’s goofier and curious sides. Singer also brings back Quicksilver from Days of Future Past, and keeps him comical and relatable the whole way through.

I mentioned before that there is a lot of X-Men doing X-traordinary things, the most obvious of these being the Quicksilver scene. After the acclaim that the kitchen scene in Days of Future Past received, it was clear that Apocalypse was going to have to try to go above and beyond. This time, Peter uses his speed to rescue everyone inside an exploding building, saving people, goldfish, a dog, and even a girl from a horrible looking first kiss. Evan Peters provides a great performance as the speedster.

Near the end of the second act, the young X-Men run into the Canucklehead himself, Wolverine. I thought this was also a cheap fix to the problem they were in at the time. Wolverine has been used so many times that I’m kind of sick of him. In the comics his role was typically as a supporting character until the mid 2000s, and that is where he fits the best. Yes, Hugh Jackman has become an icon as Canada’s most popular superhero, but I think the time for FOX to hang up the claws is well overdue.

While not a perfect film by any stretch, X-Men: Apocalypse is entertaining and fun for anyone who has a connection to the X-Men series.

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