I never thought I’d say this, but I almost feel sorry for Brett Ratner. The poor fellow was given the reigns of one of the most well-loved superhero franchises in existence and then proceeded to defecate all over said franchise within the space of a single film, presumably out of sheer panic. And as criminal as his directorial stint was in the X-Men series, not only has it been entirely erased from the timeline during the events of Days Of Future Past, but now this most recent installment is actively making fun of it. Not that I’m complaining…
X-Men: Apocalypse concerns with the return of En Sabah Nur (or Apocalypse to his chums); an all-powerful super-mutant, who randomly returns to walk the earth as a god among his fellow mutants, although any such messianic following is left mysteriously absent during the film’s run time. It’s up to Prof. Charles Xavier and his 1980’s fashion disaster known as the X-Men to put a stop to him, while still finding time for Magneto’s miserable family life and (altogether now) another Wolverine segment.
Probably the biggest issue with this film is the same issue I tend to take with most of the X-Men movies: they always emphasize quality over quantity when it comes to their characters. Seeing as most comic book films are get most of their royalties from fan service, it’s obviously in the studio’s financial interests to stuff as many named heroes or villains into the film as possible so as to sucker in pre-existing X-Fans. The issue with this is that you have relatively big name actors, such as Sophie Turner, Kodi Smit-McPhee and Olivia Munn, playing quite key characters but doing relatively little in terms of development or plot advancement. The latter is particularly guilty of this, as she is definitely respected enough to earn the role and the paycheck that goes with it, but is rewarded with about 4 minutes of screentime and probably only the same number of lines in terms of dialogue.
Another issue with this film I have is Jennifer Lawrence. Yes, you read that right. I’ve been proved wrong in my vitriolic rants about her status as my generation’s Jesus Christ, but this performance is not going to do so. She contributes almost nothing to the plot or the X-Men as a whole, and for some absurd reason is hero-worshipped for her actions in Days Of Future Past, in which I’m almost certain she was supposed to be THE VILLAIN! Maybe this is the fault of the writer rather than Lawrence herself, but it her performance certainly hasn’t warmed me to her.
But in spite of all this bile, I was not entirely disappointed by Apocalypse. A few moments made me laugh (although the obligatory f-bomb scene has become tired now), and Quicksilver’s slow-motion extravaganza is still a joy to behold. The use of John Ottman’s theme from X-Men 2 is a nice homage to the Bryan Singer’s original works, and it speaks volumes that the final scene featuring a bald Xavier and a suited-and-booted X-Men caused me to perspire with excitement for the next film.
Simply put, this is a film very much for the fans. If you’re up to speed on basic X-Men lore then you will get a kick out of this, and Singer has definitely re-ignited my love for the franchise. If you’re in for more thoughtful viewing, or are a little sick of Man Of Steel-esque destruction porn, then perhaps you should stick to Jessica Jones or Daredevil (Cox, not Affleck; I’m not insane).