Film Critic and Writer for ComiConverse.com, the Founder and co-host of the official Nerdcast Network Podcast
MORE NEWS FROM THE WEB
X-Men: Apocalypse lands in cinemas on May 27th. Our Lead Film Critic Jordan Samuel who has seen the conclusion to the brilliant trilogy, brings us the official ComiConverse review.
“Everything they’ve built will fall! And from the ashes of their world we’ll build a better one”
X-Men (2000) has been credited by some as the first blockbuster comic book movie series. It started the great work that Marvel Studios and Warner Bros. are doing today. It delivered a new generation insight into the powerful world of comics; with the mutant team being key in that movement.
I have followed the franchise since the beginning, back in 2000, with Bryan Singer’s beloved X-Men adaptation being the big surprise of that year. It tackled major themes like racism and acceptance perfectly, finally proving that an intellectual take on the genre can work.
The studio has even been creating spin-offs that gave select mutants their own standalone films; including X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) and most recently Deadpool (2016). Each having different levels of success, with the latter receiving critical acclaim and generating a whopping $761.2 million at the box office.
The series got me back into comic-based movies, after the disappointing Batman and Robin. It has grown with each instalment with the prequel/sequel trilogy. The series has brought historical elements to the comic movie landscape, and even tackled time travel.
These projects feel more adult than most films based upon costumed heroes birthing the universe we see today.
But does the latest addition X-Men: Apocalypse deliver?
Find out as ComiConverse provides our official review.
Since ancient times, the first and most powerful mutant, En Sabah Nur, also known as “Apocalypse”—immortal and invincible—has been worshipped as a god. But when Apocalypse awakens from a hibernation of thousands of years, he is disgusted to find out what the world has come to and decides to change it. He recruits four followers, Ororo Munroe (“Famine”), Warren Worthington III (“Death”), Elizabeth Braddock (“Pestilence”) and Erik Lehnsherr (“War”), to help him with this task of destroying humanity and building a better world, led by him, from the ruins. Now, Raven and Charles Xavier lead a team of young X-Men to face Apocalypse and defeat him.
2016 brings in X-Men: Apocalypse which sees the team going up against the ancient mutant En Sabah Nur aka Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac). Our villain awakens in the present day and finds out the world is full of other mutants, but is disgusted by the state of its human race. Accordingly, he sets out to cleanse the Earth.
With his horsemen, Apocalypse sets out to destroy the world. The crisis brings the younger versions of our heroes together, including fan favorites like Cyclops, Jean Grey and Mystique together (to name a few).
This may sound generic to many, but it this film finally allows the X-Men to practice everything Xavier has taught them, closing the series on a big event. I can confirm that this my favourite X-Men film since First Class, as it finally brings a memorable villain to the table. After Deadpool delivering something new, it was nice to finally see a satisfying conclusion to the X-Men trilogy come to light.
Apocalypse offers some fresh takes on the franchise, with the new cast members injecting some much needed life into the series. It delves into what being a mutant is, with Apocalypse pushing some biblical themes. It does all this without feeling crammed full of over the top dialog, he manipulates Magneto and other mutants into joining his death squad.
Many films would gloss over this, but director Bryan Singer puts that element in the forefront. This feels like the logical next focus in the franchise, with both side’s motives being understandable. X-Men: Apocalypse fuels the conversation around mutants being the superior race in the universe; something that has been developed in the series since the original X-Men. As a whole the story is good and answers many questions regarding the place mutants share on the earth.
While not being the strongest story – it does what was needed
Professor Xavier, founder and leader of the X-Men, played by James McAvoy, has not had the greatest few years since the events of First Class, but seems to have finally settled in X-Men: Apocalypse, with his school getting new additions. Throughout the movie we see development in his character values, including caring and compassion towards his Mutant kind. So when Apocalypse comes out with his speech regarding the present day conditions, you do sense disgust from Charles. The plot also delves into his teachings to the students, with major themes like the ethical use of powers coming up many times thought Xavier’s scenes.
I personally loved how the film went into the leadership role he currently holds. Apocalypse calls him a false leader and the question comes up in the movie more than once. Is Xavier really saving these mutants or holding them back from something greater?
Bryan Singer’s love for the character is showcased here, with dialogue feeling meaty and one action scene involving Xavier that will blow you away. James McAovy is Charles Xavier and provides his best performance yet.
Michael Fassbender returns as the anti-hero Magneto, and again provides another awesome performance. I have loved his portrayal of the character since First Class, with his role being career defining. It honestly was the best villain performance since Heath Ledger’s The Dark Knight, feeling fresh but true to comic book origins.
In this film, Magneto switches sides and joins Apocalypse in his journey to a better world. This time we finally see the human side of Magneto. His entire story has been building up to Apocalypse, with the movie doing a good job at proving some closure to his arc. You also get hints at something that will change the entire X-Men universe going forward.
If you have been waiting for more of Fassbender’s Magneto, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Mystique is back as Jennifer Lawrence who takes up the mantle again, now many people have criticized her performance. Manly due to the studios decision on making her a face for the franchise. I do understand why people dislike her, as the franchise has over relied on the character. But she doesn’t come across as annoying in this film due to her performance feeling more laid back.
Singer has chosen to tame her role. It feels like the script has toned down her screen time – feeling more like a side character rather than the main lead. Reminding me of her Days of Future Past role.
Throughout the movie we get sequences of her motivating other mutants. I liked these as it humanizes Mystique even though the dialog is proper cheese factor, her action scenes are quite capitalizing to say the least (especially in the final battle).
Jennifer Lawrence is quite good in the film, but it does seem the franchise will be side-lining the character in future movies.
Fan favorite character Cyclops is back! And is played by Tye Sheridan. Who provides an emulate performance as the mutant leader he is much younger and inexperienced than previous iterations. He feels fresh without being too different from the source material, similar to Tom Holland in Captain America: Civil War this casting feels on point.
I also loved his connection with Jean Grey in the film – which could be developed in future movies. Something never felt in the original iteration, it wonderful how Bryan Singer has taken time in developing the romance on screen.
Tye is confident in the role also which sadly wasn’t the case with James Marsden – who never delved into the character with much heart.
In the end Tye Sheridan is an amazing Cyclops and should be followed into (fingers crossed) a Dark Phoenix adaptation.
Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner plays the powerful Jean Grey, who again has serious potential. Another younger iteration of a popular character – who was the driving force in the earlier films. I love the acting she provides, it really feels faithful to the comics. Singer does well at tapping into Jean’s emotions – with her scenes in the mansion carrying emotional weight.
You also sense something deeper inside her character building, which could be developed in future movies. She guides Cyclops into using his powers with one sequence controlling his powers for him like a turret.
Sophie Turner is beautiful in the role, and fills the boots perfectly. I want her back in future movies because this girl is going places.
New cast member Kodi Smit-McPhee plays Nightcrawler. My favourite mutant due to his interesting backstory in the comics – Kodi is more a less the comedic relief in the outing. And is another awesome cast addition that could be developed in future iteration. I loved his addition to the already crazy cast members.
Evan Peters the young man who blew us away as Quicksilver in Days of Future Past. Is back and words cannot describe how awesome his role is here – feeling true to the laid-back cool kid from the comics.
Talk about his role in more context would bring spoilers, but do not worry because he runs through the competition.
Evan Peters is Quicksilver.
Apocalypse played by Star Wars star Oscar Isaac, is the catalyst of all the X-Men’s problems in this sequel. Not only is a massive upgrade in the evil department after years of William Stryker – is the best comic book villain in decades.
Isaac embodies the character and does well at showcasing his ignorant values. He sees himself as better than everything in the world – the leader of this new generation of humans.
You sense despair and pure fear when he shows up in scenes to gathers his four horsemen. Many fans have been very negative around the character design, but I can confirm that somehow it works. Feeling a lot more realistic in the Bryan Singer X-Men universe and should not be anything to worry about.
However, they are problems inducing some silly design choice, I also did have some issue with his voice sounding way to posh for my liking. Similar to Bane in The Dark Knight Rises – with booming effects added.
Apocalypse also has a sweet origin, that mirrors the comic book version. Egypt is a major element in this and it delivers some gorgeous looking visuals in IMAX. His powers including Mass manipulation, Telepathy are all here. And looks incredible in many fight scenes inducing his introduction to the X-Men.
Oscar Isaac deserves respect for this performance, because Apocalypse is the best villain in the franchise.
Pyslocke the telekinesis master samurai welding badass – who is played by the beautiful Oliva Munn. She is the surprise character that steals the show in various action set pieces and will be talked about for some time.
I was skeptical at the character when it was announced, many due to a fear they would over sexualize her. But that is not the case in the film Singer elevates beyond the stereotypical comic book design.
Oliva Munn is great in the role, taking the badass nature of the character to the big screen. Singer also gives her a origin story that was quiet honestly a surprise element of the film and got me excited for maybe a Pyslocke movie.
Because it honestly could work after her inclusion in the X-Men universe.
Storm played by Alexandra Shipp, teenager who is found orphaned by Apocalypse – young dumb and confused sees her role as a calling sign for greater good. I love how the movie introduces the broken piece into the world.
Singer does an amazing job at giving Storm this powerful backstory embracing her African heritage. It feels more accurate to the comic roots which is a needed change for another take on the popular X-Men character.
Shipp has so much potential as Storm, and hopefully will continue on to future movies.
Ben Hardy (Eastenders) who plays Angel is quite good also, and should have more screen time. He does have some cool action scenes but feels oddly scaled back in this overall role in the evil team. The performance he delivers is fine but never really accelerates past his mutation, maybe some more fleshed out development was needed in the script.
Because he only appears to kick ass which is quite disappointing.
As a whole the horsemen are quite cool, doing the job perfectly giving the X-Men a challenge. With the final battle involving these mutants feeling true to the famous comic book run of the same name.
The heavy use of CGI in the action sequences is disappointing and feels like a missed opportunity, Bryan Singer should have focused on more some smaller scale action which have suited the series so far. A strange change up from the more character driven outings – that doesn’t deliver the punch needed on the big screen.
Hopefully the next X-Men movie will scale back the action for maximum impact because none of it really packs any heat.
I didn’t love X-Men: Apocalypse as it doesn’t do anything new for the genre, but instead relies on clichés. Bryan Singer has done it again with interesting results (some bad, mostly good).
He has provided a fun X-Men movie that develops these characters in all the right levels. But it lacks anything ground breaking, instead giving us a functional sequel with all the trimmings.
Put straight I enjoyed (but did not love) X-Men: Apocalypse because it gets the job done, finalizing a trilogy that embraced these characters with both arms. While not being the best comic book film of the year it does provide bang for your buck.
Singer deserves much more credit than he gets – for his take on these heroes. With this being his final outing I have no idea where the franchise will go from here but this is noway a terrible outing (just doesn’t reach that DOFP level goodness).
The X-Men franchise has had many bumps in the past, but this is one their more decent efforts.
PS: You also get a surprise character reveal.
Jordan Samuel is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @JordanESamuel
Apocalypse is a decent addition the franchise, that ends an epic trilogy of films in the right way (despite some issues.)