The ninth film in the X Men film series is here, an Apocalypse film in more ways than one. Is the film doomed as its namesake? Or has Apocalypse been able to shake off the Days of Future Past critical failure? Here is my review for GeekPress. **Warning! Some spoilers ahead**
The first X Men film released in 2000 had a lot riding on it – not only had Fox purchased the rights to the film, but Bryan Singer, the director, admitted he had no interest in the comics, but more on the prejudice the mutants faced. Yet the film was a big hit with critics and cinema goers alike. This prompted the different sequels and spin offs that leads us up to X Men: Days of Future Past released in 2014.
Now, I must say, I absolutely hated the episode of the same name as Days of Future Past in the 90s cartoon series of X Men. I find the idea of “going back in time to change the future” very dull and lazy in terms of writing. It doesn’t feel like any effort is put into using this genre (Unless you do it brilliantly unmatched like the Back to the Future film trilogy did) and here I don’t think it worked. Days of Future Past is my least favourite X Men film and it’s important to know, I am a huge fan of the X Men series (comics, games and films) and mentioning Days of Future Past as a failure is the first in the series for me. Until Apocalypse came along.
In the 1980s, Apocalypse (En Sabah Nur as he is also known) awakens from a sleep spanning thousands of years (sometimes I do feel like I need to do the same!). He was the most powerful mutant and now wants to cleanse mankind with other mutants he recruits. Raven, with the help of Professor X, must lead the X-Men to stop their nemesis and save mankind from destruction. Yay.
I’m not massively keen on the story; nevertheless I had high hopes for the film, especially after Days of Future Past, thinking it could only get better. Except, it doesn’t. All the key ingredients for a decent X Men film are there: new superheroes and villains, awesome abilities and classic characters having to save the world whilst cramming in as many winks to the comic fans as possible, in one film. However, none of these elements seems to work.
For example, Wolverine has a very brief appearance (He simply MUST be in every film! Still no yellow spandex I’m afraid to say) in one of the action sequences and to his credit, Hugh Jackman dazzles once again as the much loved clawed hero, though the sequence is far too short and does seem to be whacked into the film, just for the sake of it. I don’t like the feeling of a well liked character being thrust into the film relying on the fact that he is liked, just to make the film feel special. It doesn’t. In Days of Future Past, seeing The Wolverine in a bar, giving some quick whips was a better way of doing it than this.
It isn’t all bad in Apocalypse (if you can excuse the pun)Jennifer Lawrence once again excels as Raven / Mystique but does tend to make me feel (again) she is forced there, rather than being a part of the story. Another big shoutout to Sophie Turner (she is best known for playing Sansa Stark in the crazy popular Game of Thrones) is outstanding as Jean Grey. Her performance shows how easy she can pull of this type of role with ease. All the actors (new and old) do give great performances, it’s just a shame the story isn’t good to compliment them.
My favourite part was actually a really sad moment for Erik (Magneto) that shows his wife and daughter being murdered after he tries to live a normal life. It shows how deep Erik’s hatred for mankind goes – and with good reason.
I have to mention about how Apocalypse looks in the film, as many are disappointed with this alone. I actually think Oscar Isaac did a good job portraying the villain, but didn’t necessarily look the best which he could have done. They could have transformed his look from the comics to be more menacing and powerful than the bit naff look they gave him.
I also have to shout out my disappointment at Jubilee played by Lana Condor. Jubilee is one of my favourite X Men characters of all time so with the 80’s setting, I thought she would be utilised a lot more in the story. But isn’t used at all really and is seen only brief moments in the film. Now I know it’s not fair to moan about favourite characters not getting enough air time, but Jubilee is a magnificent character known for her looks of this decade. Yet, what do we get? Just a few glimpses of what could have been great. Lana does a good job from what is seen of her, talking of the setting and how it helped her play the role “It’s a lot easier when you have the costume, as that helps bring everything to life. She has her iconic yellow jacket, which is a staple. It’s very bold and confident, like her. A lot of her costumes are super 80s. I also listened to music from the 80s and that helped.”