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A much anticipated film that proves to be entertaining – however falls short when you really look at it.

Before I put my critic hat on, I’d like to say this as a biased X-Men fan: I loved this film. I was so entertained by it and loved seeing new mutants (in this series) come together and start to unfold their stories. This movie was one of the top two films I was looking forward to most in 2016 and I left the theater satisfied, with a craving to watch it again.

*Critic hat back on*

X-Men: Apocalypse follows X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Days of Future Past, taking place in 1983. It has been roughly 10 years since Xavier was convinced to save Magneto (who was imprisoned for assassinating JFK), Magneto attempted to kill President Nixon, and Mystique was televised as a mutant hero for stopping him. Over the last decade they have gone their separate ways and moved on with their lives. While this is happening, Apocalypse awakens from his tomb, believed to be the first of his kind. His mission is to wipe out humanity and rule those who survive – with the help of his four horsemen.

The film starts off in ancient times, when Apocalypse was betrayed by the people of Egypt and was buried alive under the rubble of the pyramids. Thousands of years later, he is woken from his sleep and sets foot in modern day Egypt. He lightly acknowledges a stereo playing (literally the only thing he thought was odd about the modern world) as he walks through the streets, where he witnesses Storm using her powers to aid her in shoplifting. After seeing her ability to control weather, he takes her in, enhances her powers, and gains that same ability. They meet paths with Psylocke, Angel, and Magneto – who all join his side, being promised a better future for mutants alike.

The rest of the X-Men are aware that wiping the human race is not the answer, and they form a team to go to Cairo to take down Apocalypse. The new X-Men consists of both veteran and rookie mutants, being challenged to take action quickly to prevent the end of the world from seeing the light of day.

There were a few pockets of this film that needed some TLC. The first thing I noticed was the CGI. As big of a blockbuster that this film was, the CGI was disappointing in some areas, making it hard to ignore. When you’re watching a film about mutants with unique powers, you can only hope for it to be believable. But when the graphics are too animated in certain scenes, it can really take that aspect away.

My biggest qualm with this film, was feeling like it was too many movies trying to fit into one. I felt like certain areas in the story fell short of really explaining why things were happening. Perhaps I wanted more buildup of the horsemen being formed under Apocalypse’s order, or perhaps I just wanted more scenes with Psylocke to actually have a speaking role (but perhaps that’s just me as a biased Olivia Munn fan). When it came to Psylocke, Storm, and Angel, the story lacked their roles and responsibilities in aiding Apocalypse. They seemed kind of thrown into the mix without really showing why they are so important. It almost seemed like director Bryan Singer was trying to cram too much into 144 minutes. Now, I understand that not all aspects of these movies need to be spelled out for the viewers. Most viewers are already X-Men fans and know a good amount of backstory.

xmen apocalypse

It’s interesting for me to think back on this film, because as a photographer and artist, scenes can usually stick out to me visually afterwards. But I never got that with this film, which is slightly disappointing. Now I’m not saying the cinematography was horrendous, I’m merely pointing out that it wasn’t pushed as much as I typically hope for.

Now that I have the negative things out of the way, I would like to acknowledge everything that I liked (as a critic) about X-Men: Apocalypse. There was the perfect balance of action and humor. Heck, there were even plenty of scenes to pull at your feels – I’m looking at you, Michael Fassbender. Just brace yourself for any scene with Magneto, he’s coming from a hard spot in life and struggles with knowing what he should be doing next. So, his story is consistently emotional throughout the film.

Not only do we get to enjoy some of our favorite mutants from the previous two X-Men films, we get a healthy dose of fresh faces: Jean Grey, Cyclops, Storm, Angel, and Psylocke. It was refreshing seeing these mutants interacting or fighting with old ones and you really start to feel the X-Men universe start to fully come together.

As mentioned earlier, Michael Fassbender has some pretty tough scenes. The rest of the cast held up their expectations in portraying their character. By the laughter throughout the audience, Evan Peters as Quicksilver and Kodi Smit-McPhee as Nightcrawler were among some of the favorites.

My biggest concern from watching the trailers was thinking that Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique might have too much screen time, but there seemed to be symmetry among all the mutants (besides the horsemen), which drew a sigh of relief.

X-Men: Apocalypse is a worthy film that will entertain you. It may leave you feeling slightly disappointed and/or it may leave you feeling joyful and anxious to watch again. The bottom line is that it is a solid watch. Take your friends and have discussions afterwards about what you think should have been done differently and what you enjoyed most – because it is the job of the film to make you talk and think about it. Watching X-Men: Apocalypse is like being handed a milk chocolate shake with whipped topping, but the server forgot the cherry on top.

 

Directed By: Bryan Singer

Produced By: Simon Kinberg, Bryan Singer, Lauren Shuler Donner

Written By: Simon Kinberd

Staring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Oscar Isaac, Rose Byrne, Evan Peters

Distributed By: 20th Century Fox

Release Date: May 27th, 2016

Run Time: 144 minutes

Rating: PG-13

 

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