Saturday, 25 June 2016

X-Men Apocalypse (2016)

The X-Men movies are one of those franchises that can go both ways for me. For the most part I have thoroughly enjoyed what fox has done with the franchise. Some entries, however, have fallen very flat and recently others are have been starting to feel a little tired. Somehow, X-Men: Apocalypse manages to embody most of what can frustrate me about the franchise, while also not being an altogether terrible film.

This film takes place in the prequel story-line, following on from days of future past. The story this time involves an ancient mutant by the name of apocalypse waking from a long hibernation to announce himself as king of the earth. He quickly comes up with a plan to destroy everything "weak" in the world including all non-mutants, leaving the Xavier and the other X-Men to stop him.

It should come as no surprise at this point that Magnito is initially on board with this plan much of the tension in the film involves an attempt to stop him from getting out of control. To say this scenario is getting tired in the X-Men universe would be an understatement. Despite this, Michael Fassbender is still a perfect actor for the part, as is James McAvoy in the role of Charles Xavier. They both play so brilliantly off each other, that you are almost willing to forgive the fact that similar scenarios have been exhausted in the previous two films. Nicholas Hoult also continues to bring depth to Hank/Beast, despite having less screen time than in the previous two entries.

Oscar Isaac is one of the most expressive and versatile actors working today. Unfortunately he is nearly unrecognizable beneath a very fake looking prosthetic and is given dialog comes across stiff and emotionless as Apocalypse. The same could be said for Sophie Turner who is introduced in the role of Jean Gray, a character who should be the most interesting in the entire series but comes across dull and detached. The rest of the large ensemble cast give fine, if unexceptional, performances with Jennifer Lawrence looking exactly as bored as she did in the previous two entries in the role of Mystique.

As with most of Bryan Singer's X-Men films, the film has a slightly dated look, with serviceable special effects and action choreography. There are, however, a few impressive sequences early on as Apocalypse is being introduced. Adding to the unspectacular special effects, the costumes, makeup, set pieces and props all look like they're made of plastic, making the film look almost messy. To top of the look of the film, the color palette is rather confused, as if the Bryan Singer wanted to both give the film the bright, colorful look of a comic book as well as keeping a dark, gritty look. These looks clash rather badly leaving us with the worst of both.

Its not all terrible though, despite similarities with previous films the plot ticks along at a decent pace and the writing allows the characters (exception of Jean and Apocalypse) to feel as animated as you can expect. The film also still manages to retain a certain sense of fun despite its shortcomings. It can be recommended as a serviceable popcorn film, which may not have any lasting impact but will also not offend anyone's sensibilities. 2.5/5