Bryan Singer’s “X-Men: Apocalypse” is like a Kanye West song featuring Eminem. The emotions of the song are sprinkled into Eminem’s lyrics and his delivery, but Kanye ruins the song as he continues to take up the most space in the music. The same thing occurs in this bombastic movie in which the emotions are sprinkled throughout with glimpses of exceptional performances involving James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, but every time Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) or anything involving this simplistic plot show-up, the film drags down by more than a few notches. It’s like watching a kid struggling to swim, but instead of grabbing a floaty he grabs a bag of rocks.
It’s a story that is ten years too late as Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac), the world’s first mutant, returns and desires world domination. Original thinking right? Nonetheless, to make sure he takes his throne once again he has four horsemen join him on this journey for destruction. Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Psylocke (Olivia Munn), Angel (Ben Hardy), and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) walk alongside the would be God.
All four of whom, have their own reasons for doing so that are far too basic. Especially when you consider the idea that Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) is looking for the strongest mutants to accompany him and he chooses Angel (Ben Hardy)? Why? His power is that he can fly, meanwhile there is Legion, Rogue, or even Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) which would’ve made for a far more intriguing subplot than the one she was given.
Meanwhile, Xavier (James McAvoy) has finally manifested his school for the gifted. He’s happier than he’s been in years, and after a strange night in which Jean (Sophie Turner) has a nightmare that shakes the entire house in one of the few emotionally built scenes of the movie, he goes down to the basement and uses Cerebro to see what is going on in the world.
He finds Moira Mactaggert (Rose Byrne) (you know the girl he wiped memories from) and begins to discover Apocalypse’s (Oscar Isaac) origins and motives. But in an attempt to reach out to Erik (Michael Fassbender), he allows Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) into Cerebro who begins to fire all the nukes of the world into the sky in a scene that is one of the movies’ best.
It’s a sequence with metaphorical underlines involving are peace as humankind being deliberately connected to the destruction of nuclear weapons, but that is the only scene that has more than meets the eye. It’s incredibly frustrating to watch these movies not hit their marks because its story is continuously as extreme as it's characters. It’s either wholly dark with no bit of enthusiasm to be found or its all action with no substance.
The X-Men comics are meant to be far more emotional and societally relevant than it's ensemble brethren like that of Fantastic Four which is campy fun or The Avengers which is epic. The X-Men are supposed to be allegories for puberty, homosexuality, and racism. It’s supposed to speak to the ideas of acceptance, marginalization, diversity, and evolving as a society. Singer continues to either near this mark of storytelling or completely ignore it, why is it that the solo movies continually have far more emotion packed into them?
The direction and visual language of the film are respectively good. Each scene has an essence of fun attached to it visually, whether it's the design of the costumes, the callbacks, the easter eggs, or the actual helming of the scene. The problem is that none of those things lend to the story being interesting. It’s a basic story that feels pumped out by a studio that meets all of the demographic measures. The story has three moments of great storytelling with that of Erik (Michael Fassbender) delivering an emotionally captivating performance in which he is impacted with grief. There is also another incredible Quicksilver (Evan Peters) scene and a weapon X cameo sequence that makes up for “X-Men Origins.”
Those three moments are fantastic and are my three pros of the movie; it's the rest of the film that feels weighed down by the unoriginal storytelling or the uninventive villain. The handsome Poe Dameron is covered in blue potato mix, and his motivations are quite basic. He wants to cleanse the Earth of the false gods known as humanity, yet he wants to become the new false god. It's a character that doesn't touch the surface, he's not tactile. He's silky and made of sand, it's easy to see through him, and he never becomes more than a character that shows up and drags down the film.
I’d never thought that Oscar Isaac could be so dull as an actor, but I don’t blame him entirely, just like I don’t blame Fassbender and McAvoy. I blame the four writers who seemed to have crammed seven stories into one and made none of them enjoyable. They sprinkle emotion throughout the film, but never have any moments of actual maturity or evolution to their story, continually being stifled and muzzled by its inability to craft anything worth watching.
The performances are far better than the movie deserves, the visual language is satisfactory, but when most of your film is screaming to the audience “look how epic this is,” you might have a problem. It’s storytelling that is meant to carry you to the next moment, to the next battle, to the following sequence that is intended for fanboys like myself to orgasm in our theatre chair. I’ll admit I left the theatre with more than three favorite moments, but after rewatching it again last night, it’s hard for me to see it as something more than a well-made part in the assembly line of superhero movies.
There are more than a few superhero movies out today; you have to make yours different in order to stand out. “X-Men: Apocalypse” is a movie that blends into the cloud of it all, never taking risks, never making anything tangible, and never saying anything loud enough for anyone to care.