The X-Men of whatever timeline is valid are back and battling a monster of such unbelievable power that he needs a middle aged guy and three teenagers to protect him. That’s right, you stinking muties, it’s X-Men: Apocalypse! Yes, X-Men: Apocalypse, where the only thing standing in the of complete worldwide annihilation are more teenagers, a couple of teachers, and their principal.
So, Apocalypse isn’t great, but it’s certainly passable. Far more entertaining than The Last Stand, either Wolverine movie, or the first X-Men movie, but I’ll be dipped if this movie doesn’t have an ounce of focus in its entire runtime. It can’t seem to decide what story it wants to tell. I mean, if we want to be completely honest here, it should have told the story of Apocalypse and his evil plan to destroy the world and not much else. Instead, we get a side-trip to Weapon X for the gratuitous and increasingly un-special Wolverine cameo. If you wanted to do fan service, guys, you could have snuck Deadpool in there somewhere. THAT would have been unexpected and welcome.
Not that I’m hating on Hugh Jackman here, but the entire Weapon X story did nothing but stall for time and steal momentum and that’s a long way to go for predictable fan service.
Apocalypse himself is big and bombastic, but a lot of his motivations are left a little too myserious for my tastes. Why does he want to do this Machiavellian Lex Luthorish plot to destroy the world? Sure, we know because he sees himself as a God and wants power, but it’s an awfully two-dimensional reason.
I suppose that’s one of my major gripes about this movie: It just expects you to know what’s going on. Jean Gray, for example, is reintroduced in this movie which is a welcome thing, but her powers are never explained and, considering it’s a little important to know in the climax, I was more than a little surprised that it wasn’t at least summarily touched on.
I’m also increasingly weary of the awful way that the cast of First Class has been treated by these movies and I can’t say more than that without spoiling what happens.
It’s not all doom and gloom. Other favorites make their welcome return such as Storm who is (OMG) actually played as an African woman this time and, my personal favorite, Nighcrawler. Quicksilver also has a much larger role in this movie and pretty much steals every scene he’s in. One sequence in particular tops the famous kitchen sequence from Days of Futures Past in about a hundred insane ways.
As far as the X-Men pantheon goes, this is hardly a franchise-destroying disaster, but it is below the bar set by the recent movies. Granted, we’re not in The Last Stand territory here and, if you want to get technical, Apocalypse is better than most, but its lack of focus and attention deficiencies work against it and make its run time seem unnecessarily long.