**CAUTION: This review will contain some spoilers!**
The Apocalypse of my childhood memories. Yes, maybe a bit overdramatic, but so were many parts of this installment of X–Men.
Coming into this movie (like all of the X–Men movies), I hope for the best and tend to have some level of bitterness left in my mouth. Overcoming the fact that these movies will not ever follow the comic story line or even the animated series is usually the first step to enjoying them. I mean, with all the time travel, alternate realities, and (let’s face it) so many characters to keep track of; the movies will never match beaming eye to laser eye.
Character development was one of the major lacking aspects of this story. We already knew plenty of Magneto’s (Michael Fassbender) back story, and it was nice that the filmmakers acknowledge the fact that Quicksilver (Evan Peters) is his son. However, this made the flashbacks explaining the connection completely unnecessary. That time should have been used on expanding Psylocke’s (Olivia Munn) character development and Angel/Archangel’s (Ben Hardy) appearance. Additionally, being that Scarlet Witch is Quicksilver’s twin, adding her in would have also been a nice touch and could possibly lead to a House of M arc, but alas…wishful thinking. Psylocke’s costume was on point, and looks like it was straight out of the comics. Her CGI psionic blades were also mostly enjoyable in a light saber kind of way. As seen in the previews, her best scene was slicing a car in half. This character could have made the movie, instead it flopped it with her flat persona. Would have enjoyed some more of the ninja skills that she is known for.
Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac), AKA En Sabah Nur (and the first mutant), had an interesting opening and was honestly visually commanding. The filmmakers stayed true to his Egyptian heritage, and he even calls himself by his given name. There were certain liberties taken, though. His form of regeneration in this movie is to take other mutants’ powers by absorbing them in an Egyptian tomb (possibly even Rama Tut’s), there were no Celestials, and Apocalypse never really transformed himself. In fact, the only time he grew larger was in a telepathic battle (in which Professor Xavier ends up losing his hair, finally)
The filmmakers never fully went into what powers he has, but at least he didn’t completely look like Ooze.
Then, there were the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Death, Famine, Pestilence, and War. As most of us know, Archangel and Psylocke (Olivia Munn) have both been the embodiment of “Death”. These two characters have the most history with Apocalypse, and should have been focused on more. As for Angel, his transformation comes about as a result of a broken & burned wing that he suffers while in a cage match (for homosapien entertainment) against Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit–McPhee), which leads to Apocalypse giving him his metal wings. For the other two Horsemen, we have Magneto and Storm. Magneto is swayed by Apocalypse to join his maniacal crusade after his family is killed in front of him, and he finds that he has no one else to fight for. As for Storm (Alexandra Shipp), she seems easily manipulated by Apocalypse’s telepathic abilities, yet there is a turning point for her later in the movie.
Except for Psylocke as Death, it’s never really stated which Horsemen character falls under which title. For fans of the comic, however, Caliban was introduced in the movie as a “recruiter”. Unfortunately, that’s about it…the Horsemen really fell flat. The character of Mystique (again played by Jennifer Lawrence) has some liberties taken as well. Instead of being a caretaker to Rogue & raising her as a villain (like in the comic), this Raven is training the X–Men students, and is more of a heroine. Nope, Nope, Nope. While Lawrence IS very good at playing the heroine, I don’t really classify Mystique’s character in those terms.
Nightcrawler was wonderful. Kodi Smit–Mcphee’s handle on this character was refreshing, the look was perfect, and the sense of his spiritual side and the young naïve approach was endearing. He also really owned his powers. Seeing him next to his mother (erm uhh… I mean his future teacher) Mystique did cause me a bit of confusion. I feel like she would not have thrown him over a cliff as a baby.
Jubilee (Lana Condor) goes on a mall trip. Condor looks the part. That’s really all there is to say about her bit in the movie, though.
Cyclops (Tye Sheridan) is just starting to “control” his powers, and I am happy to report that he does get his visor in this movie. I thought this casting was fine. He’s a young man with some insecurities, and just happens to be experiencing puberty with the addition of lasers from his eyes. To top it off, his brother is killed, and he finds a girl on whom he develops a crush (Jean Grey, played by Sophie Turner). The teen years can be tough…
The casting for Jean Grey wasn’t the worst either, and I’ve been a fan of Turner in Game of Thrones. However, as a huge X–Men fan, I would say that they need to stop hinting at the Phoenix embodiment. Until they introduce the M’Krann Crystal and the Shi’ar Empire, they need to stop with all that silliness. Again, I know the movies are not going to follow the comics in whole. Jean is one of my least favorite characters and she deserves better for her Phoenix transformation. She does, however, get to “let go” and use her powers to help defeat Apocalypse and save the professor.
Now, Weapon X!!!!!!!!! He’s as brutal as he should be, and looks like my action figure came to life. He is an unkempt killing machine that goes through lines of henchmen with his blades of adamantium, like a hot knife through butter. For the small part in this movie, I actually clapped at this part. As quickly as he comes into the movie he leaves. Jean calms him down before he scampers off into the snowy woods.
As Marvel Movies will do, Stan lee makes his cameo, and there is a bonus scene in the credits which alludes to another well–known character. Only the future (or a psychic) will tell if this is leading towards what it looks like.
While I wasn’t totally thrilled, I will see this movie again…and probably again. Eventually I may enjoy it for what it is and have the hopes that Disney takes over.
For now, I’m giving this 1.5 Horsemen out of 5