With less than 50% of Rotten Tomatoes critics giving X-Men: Apocalypse a positive rating, the most recent instalment in the series has scored even lower than the disappointing conclusion to the original trilogy, X-Men: The Last Stand.
This is some pretty horrifying news for fans, seeing as The Last Stand is often considered to be the worst of the X-Men films. It’s also hard to understand how X-Men: Apocalypse could have gone so wrong, considering just how incredible the trailers made the movie look.
Plagued by worries that my favourite superhero franchise was about to be permanently butchered, I had to see the film for myself.
This review is spoiler-free, and does not reveal anything that hasn’t already been revealed in the trailers.
In the first half of the film, I was reminded of exactly what I loved about the X-Men movies. Clyclops’ origin story presents the classic tale of a boy terrified by his own powers, the perceived weakness which will eventually become his greatest strength. We also get to see Storm’s backstory, which is insanely cool, since Storm is one of the characters who I feel was never fully developed during the original X-Men films.
I loved seeing Mystique on the side of the “good guys” again, and I loved that Jean Grey felt like a little more real and vulnerable this time around. Quicksilver was also given another opportunity to show off his abilities, and once again, it was one of the highlights of the film (I’m not sure I will ever get bored of Evan Peters’ Quicksilver).
In fact, the first half of the film felt very reminiscent of the first X-Men movie, only with less of Rogue’s screaming, and without all of that testosterone-fuelled rivalry between Cyclops and Wolverine. At this point, I was really enjoying the film, and couldn’t help but wonder if perhaps the critics had seen a different film from the one I was watching (or if maybe I’m just not very fussy). But then, something changed.
First, there was an awful and unnecessary cameo from Wolverine (come on, that’s not a spoiler, we’ve known it was coming since the final trailer literally showed us his claws). And obviously Wolverine is still being played by a 47-year-old Hugh Jackman, whilst Jean Grey is being played by the 20-year-old Sophie Turner. Remember what happens between these two? Yeah, that age gap, it makes things weird.
I understand that the cameo sets the stage for the next Wolverine film, but really, it just pointed out the awkward age-gap, and reminded us that maybe they should have given up on trying to create Wolverine solo films when the first one flopped.
There were also some issues with pacing, and while the final fight scene did feel fairly epic, there were moments when the last half hour felt rushed. As a whole, the film also felt a little disjointed, and there were some sections which in retrospect weren’t really necessary, and seemed like they were only there to stall time, or fill plot-holes.
Although it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the film, I wouldn’t be me if it hadn’t crossed my mind that all of Apocalypse’s male servants got body armour, whilst Storm and Pslyocke were relegated to glorified (but admittedly stylish) swimsuits. I know that Psylocke’s outfit came almost straight from the comic books, but the difference in practicality between the men and women’s superervillain costumes was just glaring. But then again, their costumes still looked pretty cool, so my complaints are minimal.
Excluding the whole Wolverine thing, there weren’t any moments when I actively disliked the film. But I didn’t leave the cinema with quite the same feeling as I did after watching First Class or Days of Future Past. For me, those were the height of what X-Men can be. With Apocalypse, I think the first half of the film hit that peak, but the rest maybe fell a little bit short of the standard.
Overall, I think maybe the critics may have been a little harsh on the film. Sure, it wasn’t a masterpiece and it didn’t quite have the polished feel of Captain America: Civil War, or the comedic genius of Deadpool. But it wasn’t a bad superhero movie, and I would wager that if this had come out around the time of the original X-Men films, then it would have received a much higher rating. It just needed some fine-tuning, some polishing around its rougher edges, and sadly, it couldn’t quite live up to the high expectations we now have for superhero films.
At least we can console ourselves with the knowledge that it could never be as bad as X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Because that really is the one X-Men film I wish had never happened.
What did you think of X-Men: Apocalypse? Let me know in the comments below.
Images: 20th Century Fox/Marvel.
Seen Captain America: Civil War? Read my spoiler-y review here.