2012’s The Bourne Legacy was the fourth installment in the Bourne franchise. Legacy was similar to previous Bourne films in tone and narrative, but was a forgettable movie that was equally disappointing as it was pointless. The same can be said for Bryan Singer’s fourth X-Men film, X-Men: Apocalypse.
After 2014’s X-Men: Days of Future Past, Fox’s inconsistent timeline places Apocalypse’s story in the 1980’s. A young Scott Summers (Tye Sheridan) is discovering his powers, Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) is rescuing mutants who are being in captivity, Magneto (Michael Fassbender) is living in Poland as a factory worker, while Beast (Nicholus Hoult) and Professor X (James McAvoy) are running Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters.
Meanwhile, En Sabah Nur aka Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) is awakened after being sleep for a thousand years. Wandering the streets of Egypt, Apocalypse meets a young Storm (Alexandra Shipp) and recruits her to be the first of his Four Horsemen. Like anyone that’s been sleep for years, Apocalypse learns all he needs to know about humanity from television. With this new information, Apocalypse believes humanity has lost its way and the world must be cleansed and remade in his image. That’s just a fancy way of saying he’s going to destroy the world.
Apocalypse does his best John Calipari impersonation and gets the best mutant recruits to help with his destruction – Magneto, Angel (Ben Hardy), Psylocke (Olivia Munn) and the aforementioned Storm. They’re the perfect 5-Star recruiting class if you want to take over the world.
It was only a matter of time before Apocalypse’s warpath and Magneto’s involvement drew the attention of Professor X and the X-Men. With help from Quicksilver (Evan Peters) and Mystique, the X-Men head off to fight Apocalypse before the world is destroyed.
There are a lot of issues with this film, the biggest being Singer’s failure to understand these characters. For example, Magneto would never join forces with Apocalypse – NEVER. As a person who survived the holocaust, there’s no way he’s cool with a guy who wants to “cleanse” the earth. Nightcralwer (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is another character who deals with the shame of his appearance – none of that is explored in this film. When Nightcrawler takes a trip to the movies, he goes unnoticed. For this to Singer’s fourth film, the most egregious offense is failing to establish Cyclops as the leader of the X-Men…AGAIN. Cyclops has been portrayed as either jealous, a crybaby, or both.
Apocalypse’s powers are never explained. It’s unclear what he can or can’t do. With the extent of he’s able to do, it’s even more unclear why he needs the Four Horsemen at all. The Horsemen are never given their names – War, Pestilence, Famine, and Death – and they’re unnecessary in this story. After the big recruiting tour, the Horsemen spend the rest of the movie standing around watching Apocalypse give his end of the world speeches. The story spends a lot of time setting up these characters and they aren’t utilize. Singer should’ve called them The Snore Horsemen.
The biggest mockery in this film is Mystique leading the X-Men. Not only is she leading the X-Men, she’s leading them as Jennifer Lawrence in cool 80’s clothes and not Mystique. Mystique is shown as Jennifer Lawrence for 90% of the movie. When she’s giving rah-rah speeches, they sound like leftover dialogue from The Hunger Games that Katniss never got to use. I’m surprised Mystique didn’t give the mocking jay hand sign. The leadership gap that needed to be filled was the perfect opportunity to let Cyclops grow into his role and it turned into The J-Law Show. That’s just one of the many wasted opportunities.
Outside of all the character missteps, the movie is bad. The writing is bad…really bad. The action scenes are unimaginative and are rehashed from previous X-Men movies – sorry Quicksilver. Very little of the reported $234 million budget was spent on fight choreography, it’s apparent a lot of it was spent on the bloated CGI backgrounds. It looks like a film that was made during an age when people didn’t know how to make superhero movies.
The X-Men franchise has been around the longest and still hasn’t figured out how to consistently make these movies – they take one step forward and two steps back. The biggest evidence would be the final showdown between the X-Men and Apocalypse. There are at least 2 different occasions where they could’ve done something interesting and they chose not to. The movie ends in the most generic superhero way possible. With amazing mutant powers, great comic book characters, and amazing actors – there’s no reason for this to movie to be as bad as it is.
X-Men: Apocalypse is wasted opportunity. Oscar Isaac and Michael Fassbender are wasted. The cast of great young actors are wasted. Apocalypse as a villain is criminally underused and undersold. It’s a bad movie that fits perfectly into Fox’s messy X-Men timeline. X-Men: First Class and Days of Future Past were steps forward; Apocalypse is a step backwards into the days when studios didn’t know how to make comic book movies.