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Movie Reviews

Scott & Max on X-Men: Apocalypse

Maximilian Rivera June 1, 2016
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Scott on Story: There are a lot of pieces in play in Apocalypse and it unfortunately feels a bit bloated. There are four major story threads in the first act of the movie that we jump around in, and most of them are compelling on their own, but lack a cohesion to bring them together. I am interested in many of the characters here, and they develop well enough to keep me engaged, but in the end, the character progression is not as strong as X-Men films in the past, like First Class or X2.

Apocalypse had a lot of potential, but in the end Oscar Isaac’s talents feel wasted here. Singer does a good job of displaying that Apocalypse is powerful, but I never had a firm grasp on what his powers were. His motivation was very clear, but not very enthralling: the ‘mutants are better’ story has been done to death in this series and I would not mind seeing different territory covered here (similar to the story in X2).

My biggest complaint overall with the story is that there are seemingly no consequences for the actions of the characters. The ending could have been much more interesting if they explored the actions of the third act and built on them with some consequences actually being realized.

Max on Story: The trailer for X-Men: Apocalypse boasts a giant crisis — an ancient super-powered mutant has returned, and he wants to take over the world. Unfortunately, that’s about as deep as the story gets for this film.

But somehow, I found myself enjoying it none the less. Why? Two reasons. The main characters are compelling enough to carry the plot along, and the story of Apocalypse throughout the comics and cartoons have never been a clean-cut, beat-by-beat narrative. Knowing that, I was willing to accept what they tried with this film.

​It’s cheesier than previous entries, but I’m thirsty for a more stylized, bright and colorful world with these characters. Still, when I think of important moments in these films, I’ll focus on X2, First Class, or Days of Future Past, and not Apocalypse.

Scott on Form: I have always found that the X-Men movies have had great visual effects and Apocalypse is no different. Seeing Angel and Nightcrawler fly/transport around in battle was very cool, Psylocke’s lightsaber was very cool, and Quicksilver had another highlight sequence here that was incredible to behold.

Ever since First Class, I feel like the X-Men movies have utilized the varied colors of the group a lot better than other superhero movies (here’s looking at you, Zach Snyder) and Apocalypse is no different. The action sequences were largely interesting and varied and I liked how the editing was not choppy/all over the place like we see in a lot of the movies. The pacing of the movie was a bit of a mixed bag. The first act bounced all over the place but was engaging, whereas the second act dragged on. It comes together for a decent third act but does not end with a bang.

Max on Form: I had a few issues with the pacing here and there throughout Apocalypse, admittedly. There are sections of the film that I absolutely loved watching (Magneto’s family scene, Nightcrawler’s fight club, Quicksilver’s rescue scene), but didn’t necessarily gel with the entire Apocalypse arc. These could have been explored to a fuller extent, and would have been served better in that sense.

​My only other complaint would be a few of the big comic book splash page scenes in the final fight looked cheap, and that’s never good.

Scott on Acting: The writing was not particularly great in this movie, and many of the performances suffered as a result. McAvoy was good, Fassbender was fantastic, and many of the newcomers to the series were also great (Sophie Turner as Jean Grey, Tye Sheridan as Cyclops, and Kodi Smit-McPhee as Nightcrawler in particular). I already mentioned that Oscar Isaac felt wasted, but I mostly think that was due to poor writing. There was one monologue he had that gave me chills, but it was an uneven showing.

I also felt like Jennifer Lawrence turned in an uninspired performance; considering how much the writers emphasized how heroic her character is, she was rather bland and flat overall.

Max on Acting: As always, Fassbender and McAvoy deliver solid performances as their characters. The film starts with a very Magneto heavy story, which tapers as the film goes on. Yet Fassbender’s performance was still outstanding. I was delighted that newcomers Sophie Turner, Alexandra Shipp, Tye Sheridan, and Kodi Smit-McPhee were great in their roles.

​On the flipside, I was let down by Oscar Isaac’s Apocalypse. His performance itself was fine, but it could have been any villain of the week.

Scott on Sound: The sound effects were very solid in this movie; Cyclops’ eye beams had a satisfying blasting sound accompanying them, which added to the effect of showing his power. The score was good; there was one scene with Angel towards the beginning of the film where he meets an antagonist and the scene is synced with Metallica’s The Four Horsemen, which was very cool.

Max on Sound: I’ve always thought the musical pieces in X movies were always solid, and this is no alternative. Thankfully, Singer caught on that audiences loved his Quicksilver scene from Days of Future Past, and indulged us some more. Set to a Eurythmics song, this was a fun, if not rehashed, set piece. That being said, I was smiling ear-to-ear the entire time. The only issue I really had was Apocalypse’s voice. He didn’t inspire me to agree with him or strike fear in my heart. His voice was just… there.
Scott’s Final Verdict: Overall, X-Men: Apocalypse certainly is not the finest outing of the series, but was not offensively bad. This was the worst of the main X-Men movies since the soft reboot of the series, and puts a lot of pressure on the next film to step up and reach the bar that the past couple have.

Max’s Verdict: As an X-Men fan, I enjoyed this movie a lot. As a film critic, I found plenty of flaws throughout it. Where do these two ideas meet? Well, I guess they don’t. If you’re invested in the X-Men film franchise and want a fun summer action movie, see this. The film doesn’t really tread new territory, and at times it doesn’t know what kind of movie it is. It’s fun, it’s entertaining, but it lacks the depth of Days of Future Past and First Class. I would say it’s a middle ground film.

Max’s Grade: B-

Scott’s Grade: B-

Scott’s Note: I gave Batman v Superman a C+, but over time the film hasn’t sat well with me. After writing my review for BvS, I felt like I may have been too critical and I think I tried to make up for it with the score. In reality, I think BvS is more of a C- than a C+

Max is a marketing copywriter by day, filmmaker and screenwriter by night. He resides in Charlotte, NC, and loves his dogs, watching movies, building LEGO sets, and eating food. Lots of food.You can find Max at his personal website and twitter.