11 June 2016 | lnvicta
Grounded in its storytelling while gorgeous in its pandemonium, Apocalypse is yet another winner from Bryan Singer.
While I prefer First Class and Days of Future Past, Apocalypse truly surprised me. It has the grandest scale of any X-Men movie, and possibly of any superhero movie period. It revolves around the first mutant born tens of thousands of years ago, En Sabah Nur, hailed as an all-powerful god in Egypt before a mutiny in the ranks caused his pyramid to collapse, burying him in the process. Fast forward to the '80s and we see Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne) investigating a cult following of this mysterious mutant. Unbeknownst to her, only the smallest amount of sunlight was needed to awaken En Sabah Nur who subsequently causes an earthquake that is felt across the globe. The beginning of this movie is slow, and rightfully so. It shows the origin of Apocalypse, at least how he came to be trapped for all these millennia, and proceeds to show the individual X-Men characters in their respective settings. Magneto has a wife and child, Mystique is rescuing captured mutants like Nightcrawler and Angel, and Professor Xavier is teaching classes in his school. Soon enough, Scott Summers enrolls in the academy and meets Jean Grey. This sounds like a lot to cram into a movie, and it is, but this background was necessary as a foundation for the story to build upon, and boy does it ever.
Apocalypse is one of those villains that has only one goal: world domination. Has it been done a thousand times before? Absolutely. Has it been executed as well as this? Probably not. If there was ever a practical motive for a villain to want to push the reset button on Earth, this is it. The guy's name is freaking Apocalypse and was hailed as a god in his time, and having seen how corrupt the world has become, he believes it's time for some new leadership. He has a huge ego and even huger powers to boot. He recruits some mutants, including Storm, Angel, Psylocke, and eventually Magneto, to help fulfill his global extinction plan, and it's exactly as destructive as it sounds. This might be the most catastrophic and destruction-filled action I've ever seen in a superhero movie. Cities crumble into dust, the Earth itself collapses from the inside, every nuclear warhead launches simultaneously across the world. It's pure pandemonium.
The acting is superb across the board. There's no need praising McAvoy or Fassbender as they've proved themselves many times over. The newcomers are the real shockers here, especially Scott Summers played by Tye Sheridan and Jean Grey played by Sophie Turner. Both are brilliant in their roles and have great chemistry in the scenes they share. Oscar Isaac is excellent as Apocalypse. The material he's given is fairly vanilla but he pulls it off with both charisma and restraint, acting exactly how you'd expect a ten thousand year old god to act in the modern age. And the guy is just menacing to look at. He has a magnetic, commanding presence, and suitably so, being the most powerful villain ever put to screen. Evan Peters kills it as Quicksilver yet again and is given more screen time, plus another show-stealing scene for the fans of his DoFP debut. It's a large cast but it never feels unbalanced. The characters that need to shine do indeed shine, and even the background characters have their rightful place in the movie. It wasn't cluttered like it could have been. Rather, some of the best scenes in the movie are quiet character building moments.
This was officially the last straw for me in regards to the credibility of critic scores. Just because it's not as good as Civil War doesn't make it a bad movie, and their criticisms of "a cliché villain" and "underwritten characters" are asinine and nitpicky. We needed a villain like this. Galactus was the closest we got to an apocalyptic villain but he was raped, mutilated, and morphed into a fart cloud in The Silver Surfer. It's about damn time we get a guy literally called Apocalypse to bring the world down to its knees. The characters are "underwritten" only in the sense that they don't spend twenty minutes going through each of their backstories and that's because they didn't have to. The movie captures their unique personalities and quirks within five minutes of them being on screen.
X-Men: Apocalypse isn't a perfect movie but it's the epitome of a great summer blockbuster. The visuals are stunning, the chaos is immense, the humor is well placed, the pacing is spot on, the music is great (Metallica and Beethoven anyone?), and the entire film builds up to an explosive climax that delivers everything you'd want in an X-Men movie of this magnitude. If you're a fan of superhero movies, do yourself a favor and take the critic scores with a grain of sand. This is a must-watch.