Jean Grey's fearless forecast: "...the third one is the worst."


And just like that, the three most anticipated movies of 2016 are over. Sure there’s still Suicide Squad and Doctor Strange but those didn’t get half as much anticipation or scale as BvS, Civil War and X-Men: Apocalypse had. These were the big three, and how did Apocalypse stack up to the other two?

While BvS received extreme contempt and Civil War, inversely, with a booming praise, X-Men: Apocalypse was somewhere in the middle ground. It had flashes of brilliance, but a lot of flat and cliché moments as well, leaving a lot lingering ‘meh’ in its wake. It wasn’t bad per se, it was okay, but this is definitely the weakest of the three “new” X-Men films.

Let’s get to it then. SPOILER WARNING, as I won’t be able to discuss its weak points without giving detailed examples.

THE GOOD: Magneto’s Tragedy

The master of magnetism!

I would even go as far as to say everything about Magneto was great (‘cept for one thing, but I’ll get to that later). His costume was cool; his powers were freaking awesome, and his arc and his drama were just the best thing about the film. Michael Fassbender’s performance as a deeply tortured and conflicted soul was sincere and utterly heart-breaking and it gave the film its emotional core.

THE BAD: Undeserved Turn

It was so perfect – Magneto goes evil after losing his family but eventually realizes he literally has other family to fight for, Quicksilver. That’s why the reveal was made right? So in the end, Peter would be the key to returning Magneto to the light side ala-Return of the Jedi?

…except he wasn’t. In the end, it was Mystique’s rousing (sarcastic) speech that made him realize his faults. Are we to believe his turn came from Mystique? A person he hasn’t seen in a decade?

The connection wasn’t there, it lacked emotional gravitas, and so the turn felt completely undeserved. Magneto’s strong family undercurrent ended in a whimper and it robbed the character of a great moment for growth.

THE GOOD: Cyclops, Jean, Nightcrawler, Quicksilver

The "new" X-Men.

The “new” X-Men were welcome additions to the cast. They gave the film some Marvel-esque levity while also paving the way for the franchise to right the wrongs done to the characters in the previous trilogy. Cyclops, Jean and Nightcrawler all played very active roles in the story and especially the climactic fight and it was wonderful.

Excited for Cyclops to take the lead next time!

All 4 of them had moments to shine. Cyclops optic blasts were extremely potent, Nightcrawler’s ability came in entertainingly handy near the end, and Jean, well, her big moment was jaw-dropping!

Run, Peter, run!

And then there’s Quicksilver, whose relatively bigger role compared to DOFP gave him the opportunity to outdo his DOFP prison scene and even go toe to toe for a while with Apocalypse himself!

THE BAD: Those damn Four Horsemen

I love Olivia Munn and all, but even she couldn't make Psylocke interesting.

Psylocke, Angel, and to a certain extent Storm too, were nothing but two-bit thugs with no layers to them whatsoever! They literally just stood around for more than half of the film! And Angel, was a freaking glam rock drunkard! WHUT??…I mean, you didn’t have to give each of them a compelling side story, but jeez, at least give them some personality!

THE GOOD: It wasn’t as Mystique-centric as I expected


With all the promo materials highlighting Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique, it was easy to worry that they were doing another “Wolverine” and make the movie revolve around the actor with the biggest star power. But fortunately, X-Men: Apocalypse was a lot more well-rounded, focusing on Magneto and Charles and the new kids as much as it did Mystique.

THE BAD: Still felt like Mystique was being shoved down our throats


I still think the character gets way more credit than she deserves. Aside from not really earning her role as Eric’s voice of reason, she was practically absent in the final battle. Hell, she uses her powers TWICE throughout the movie I think.

And yet for some strange reason, she becomes the X-Men’s drill sergeant, further undermining Mystique’s inherently trait of working in the shadows.

THE GOOD: Lots of cool action set pieces


The opening act, Quicksilver’s rescue scene, the final boss battle – X-Men: Apocalypse was not lacking in the pretty and exciting action beats department...

THE BAD: Too many subplots with some inconsistent pacing

…But it’s unfortunately drowned out by way too many subplots!

I understand the desire for every character to have their own personal journey, but because they tried to cram it in a two and a half hour movie, almost none of these individual arcs were properly fleshed out. Charles and Moira’s romance, Quicksilver’s paternal search, Mystique’s vigilante adventures, Striker’s kidnapping, Scott and Alex’…thing, everything felt half baked! So much so that Alex’ OFF SCREEN death was practically dusted off! Havok deserved better.

Some of these arcs were better off being reserved for future installments. For example, if they weren’t telling Magneto about his connection to Quicksilver, they never should have brought it up in the first place. It had no bearing in the story, just more noise in an already saturated narrative. They could have instead just hinted at the lineage to build up a bigger reveal down the road.

The only sub plot to really serve the overarching story was Eric’s and Jean’s. And between those two, Jean’s was the only one that really payed off.

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Spread itself too thin, I think.

The subplot overkill is underscored by its odd pace and the seemingly varying speeds of each scene! At one point the X-Men has this massive escape sequence, a lot of things were happening left and right, then it periodically cuts to Apocalypse putting make up on Angel or playing dress up with Magneto or just basically standing around, it’s so weird and disjointed! Action-packed segments would be eclipsed by a glaring non-activity of Apocalypse and his cronies. It’s either time was moving faster where the X-Men were or Apocalypse was taking his sweet time so the X-Men to catch up.

THE GOOD: Feral Wolverine

Hugh Jackman was full on, berserker mode Wolverine! Slicing ass and taking names! Hell yeah! It’s the Wolverine he was meant to be! (As opposed to the implied, and mostly blood-less killing he did back then.)

THE BAD: Underwhelming Apocalypse

apocalypse (2)
Discount Apocalypse.

For a movie that’s called “Apocalypse”, he never really feels like much of a threat until the very end.

Of course it doesn’t help that he didn’t feel like an overarching villain. More like second half’s villain. Major Striker snuck in there and became the mid-movie dilemma for a while. Neither was the aforementioned standing around. Or the fact that he doesn’t have the built or powers we usually associate him with.

When you think about it, Apocalypse is actually pretty considerate. He already had the world’s nukes launched, but he throws it into space. If anything, he just brought the world a step closer to world peace. But seriously though, if the end goal was to bring about destruction and reap the strong from the weak, couldn’t he have done it quicker with the nukes instead of having Magneto slowly tear the world apart?

Movie Apocalypse
Mystique's only part in the finale.

Also, the one OFFENSIVE ability he had was being able to manipulate atoms and practically erasing people at a thought, yet he fails to use them against the X-Men. He just puts up his force field. Nice guy, that En Sabah Nur.

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X-Men: Apocalypse was persistently mediocre. But I guess it was too tall an order to expect 2 mind-blowing X-Men movies in a row. I still enjoyed though; I still have hope for the franchise, but Jean said it best, in a seemingly self-referential manner, “…we can all agree, the third one is always the worst”.


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