December 9, 2023

Gabbing Geek

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Geek Review: X-Men Apocalypse

We’ll probably have plenty to say about this movie on the podcast this week, but in the meantime, how about a quick, SPOILER-FREE review?  You know, besides the one we already have up?

So, what can we say about this movie after the phenomenal success of Days of Future Past?  Days was in many ways the culmination of all the previous X-Men movies that weren’t a Wolverine solo film.  Could Apocalypse surpass it?

In a word, no.  But that’s not a bad thing.

While not the best X-Men movie, this one is also far from the worst.  And as what is probably the last one of these to feature Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, or James McAvoy (and possibly Nicholas Hoult), the movie does set up what could be an interesting group of younger actors as a new X-Men team for the future.  Honestly, the mutants at the end of the movie standing together could make for a good future movie, even without the aforementioned trio (plus Hoult), especially if Bryan Singer stays on as director.

That, in many ways, leads to one of the true successes of the X-films, and that’s pure spectacle.  These movies often have a lot of the impressive displays of mutant powers being tossed around, often in creative ways.  The MCU hasn’t quite gotten there yet (the airport scene in Captain America: Civil War comes closest, but most of those characters don’t even have superpowers when you get technical about it).  Think of Nightcrawler’s attempt to assassinate the President and Magento’s prison break in X2 or any of the futuristic Sentinel fights in Days.  Apocalypse has enough of those as well.  The X-Men’s adventures always seem bigger, even than what the Avengers have dealt with so far.

That bigness often comes at the price of characterization.  Even the better X-films tend to only give the spotlight to certain characters, and it’s usually Xavier, Wolverine, Magneto, Lawrence’s Mystique, and maybe one or two others.  That’s no different here, either, though Sophie Turner’s Jean Grey gets more to do than was usually the case for that character in the past.  Other characters, like Cyclops, Nightcrawler, Storm, Angel, and Psylocke are all there, but aren’t given as much screen time to develop distinctive personalities.  And it may have been the most Lucas Till’s Havoc has had to do since First Class.  There just really aren’t any scenes here like the Vision and the Scarlet Witch cooking dinner together like in Cap 3, and part of that may be due to a mall trip taken by a bunch of younger mutants apparently mostly hit the cutting room floor aside from a couple meta-lines involving film trilogies.

Fans of Evan Peters’ Quicksilver will be happy to know he has a bigger role this time around, and while a high speed set piece rescue along the lines of his similar scene in Days works pretty well, it did seem to feel like Singer was just reproducing one of the best scenes in the entire franchise in a more spectacular way, but the scene really worked so I won’t poo-poo it too much.

On the downside was Apocalypse himself.  As played by rising star Oscar Isaac, he was there.  I’ve never been much of a fan of that character, but I don’t think he’ll go down as one of the great X-Men movie villains.  A post-credit stinger suggests the next villain if you catch the reference (I did), as well as coming up with a way to go on without Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine (cameoing again here…can they make one of these movies without him?).

I really enjoyed the movie for what it was, good but not as good as this franchise’s best works.  I’m giving it eight it would be great if Sansa Stark could do that to Littlefingers out of 10.