First of all, I think X-Men: Apocalypse is just as good as 2014’s X-Men: Days of Future Past. Thus, I’m a bit baffled that Apocalypse received mixed reviews (currently sits 51% at Rotten Tomatoes) while its predecessor – which I consider good but overrated – received wide acclaim (91% rating). I believe the two basically has the same degrees of coherence (or incoherence), emotion, and spectacle.
Anyway, Apocalypse is the ninth installment (sixth if the two Wolverine movies and Deadpool are removed) to Fox’s X-Men franchise. It’s set in 1983, ten years after the events of Days of Future Past. Raven Darkhölme a.k.a. Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) has become a folk hero to the younger generation of mutants. Charles Xavier a.k.a. Professor X (James McAvoy), with the assistance of Hank McCoy a.k.a. Beast (Nicholas Hoult), has a thriving educational institute for mutants, the Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. And Erik Lehnsherr a.k.a. Magneto (Michael Fassbender) is attempting to live a quiet family life in Poland. But when a powerful ancient mutant named En Sabah Nur a.k.a. Apocalypse (Oscar Isaacs) wakes up from millennia of slumber, desiring to destroy the world and to rebuild it under his rule, the former X-Men teammates are led to cross paths once again – but on different sides of the conflict. As the fate of the world hangs in a balance, the reunited original X-Men teams up with a new batch of younger X-Men to stop Apocalypse.
Just the same with its predecessors, the script is vulnerable to nitpickings. One could easily find dozens of plot holes and dumb details if one wanted to. For example, if Charles really cared for Erik, why hadn’t he kept close tabs on him right from the start when it’s easily doable with Cerebro? Why only try finding him after Raven asked to? There are others, but they aren’t infuriating enough to be unforgivable. Though they do become annoying when one would think deeply about them, I don’t actually want or need to, since I was having sufficient fun to care about its imperfections.
Furthermore, it’s fundamentally inconsistent with X-Men lore (as established by the comics and the definitive 90’s animated TV series) as well as the film franchise’s own continuity. But this is something about the X-Men franchise that I had already learned to accept. It doesn’t have the same kind of comic book-y appeal and cleverly-developed, generally logical worldbuilding of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
As for the characters, some are good but some are pretty average. Apocalypse isn’t a remarkable villain. Indeed, there’s no denying that the scale of his villainy is grand, but he’s not a striking character at all. Also, the other villains (Archangel, Psylocke, and Storm) are merely passable. Among the antagonists, Magneto is the only one that made me care. As for the protagonists, Beast is just there, but Raven and Xavier are very engaging. I enjoyed the new Cyclops and Jean Grey, too. Most importantly, I love Quicksilver’s moments in this film. Lastly (SPOILERS), he isn’t a major player in this movie, but I appreciated the shooed-in, brief appearance of Wolverine (and considering the post-credits scene, putting him in this movie isn’t all gratuitous fan-service, but is needed to establish that teaser – and I’m excited for the obvious implication, i.e. X-23!).
X-Men: Apocalypse is not the X-Men movie that I really desire, the X-Men movie that perfectly embodies the essence of the greatest superhero team in comics. But, hey, no X-Men movie has ever done actually. The only way I’ll probably have my ideal X-Men movie is if Marvel gets the rights back – which isn’t going to happen in the near future (since, X-Men is Fox’s most lucrative franchise, at least, till the Avatar sequels are made). That said, as far as being a movie that uses elements of the X-Men mythos, it’s pretty good. It’s far from being impeccable, but it’s immensely entertaining nonetheless.
I sincerely wish this movie can make money – at least, to ensure the production of the next installment – despite the middling reviews.