Plain, Simple Tom reviews . . . “X-Men: Apocalypse” (2016)

Along with “Batman V Superman” and “Captain America: Civil War”, this film formed the third part of a trio of Superhero films, all released pretty close together, that I wanted to go and see this year.

“X-Men: Apocalypse” starts off well enough with a great opening sequence featuring the “birth” of the central antagonist, played by Oscar Isaac. Grand in scope and spectacle, the opening few scenes are very well executed and within the next 20 minutes or so, we are soon reacquainted with the characters that we know and love, most of them played by different actors.

For me, the most worthy addition is Nightcrawler, played (though I had absolutely no idea until the very end!) by “Slow West”‘s Kodi-Smit McPhee. He brings a certain lovable, goofy charm to our favourite teleporter and he is certainly great fun to watch, although I still prefer Alan Cumming! It was also great to see Josh Helman reprise his role as Stryker, though Brian Cox’s Stryker still remains the greatest X-Men villain to date!

And of course, Evan Peters steals the whole show as Quicksilver, essentially providing 100% of the film’s comedy and treating us to another awesome “speed scene”, this time backed up by Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams”.

Unfortunately, those are pretty much the only positive points I can think of.

On the subject of performances, I have to begin by saying that the character of Jean Grey was TERRIBLY miscast. As Jean, Sophie Turner was unpleasant and wooden throughout and had none of the likability of Famke Janssen; I’m sorry to say that from her very first line, I didn’t like her and I worry about how heavily she will feature in future X-Men films. In addition, Ty Sheridan didn’t seem quite right as Cyclops. All in all, I left this film pining for the likes of Halle Berry, Hugh Jackman and of course, the aforementioned Famke Janssen.

On a similar note, many of the characters are far too two-dimensional; Oscar Isaac’s overly made-up Apocalypse is the obvious “I’m all powerful, none can defeat me, everything shall fall!” villain and Storm, Psylocke and Angel have essentially nothing to do besides standing still for half of the film and taking part in the obligatory climactic face-off at the end. Honestly,  It was far more entertaining to watch Olivia Munn get drunk on “Sunday Brunch”!

The film is also overlong, overstuffed and takes far too much time to actually get anywhere. With a far too generous use of slow motion, you can sadly feel every minute passing, quite a stark contrast to “Civil War”, in which time just flew by. The plot is also fairly predictable and slightly dull.

The film also features something of a romantic subplot between Xavier and Moira McTaggart that feels shoehorned in and a bit pointless.

In addition, Magneto is told FAR too many times how there is “still good inside him” (I counted at least 5 instances!) and unfortunately, this becomes tedious after a while and leads to an obvious ending “development” for his character.

So all in all, a pretty obvious, predictable outing with limited character development and the obligatory mutant vs. mutant smackdown at the end. Praise for Evan Peters and Kodi Smit-McPhee though.



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