A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!
Directed By: Bryan Singer
Written By: Simon Kinberg
Produced By: Lauren Shuler Donner, Simon Kinberg, Bryan Singer, Hutch Parker
Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Oscar Isaac, Jennifer Lawrence
Running Time: 144 Minutes
A breath of fresh air came in the form of Bryan Singer upon returning to his beloved mutant franchise and the universe he created once upon a time. Appointed as more of a repairman than recipient of the franchise, the best thing to do to eradicate the colossal stench that lingered well past the days of Bret Ratner, was to simply wipe away the surface, nullify the universe and reboot. In an age where superhero films are trying to humanise their characters and realise their worlds, it seems the motivation for Singer’s latest, X-Men: Apocalypse, may have borrowed a thing or two from his approach to fixing the franchise upon his reappointment.
Without over complicating it, the synopsis of Apocalypse sees a dominant figure who was once a powerful being return after years of being hidden away in darkness to once again rule over the universe by cleansing the earth of the filth that has piled up in his absence. It’s difficult not to draw comparison to real life events in this particular case.
Although there really isn’t much to differentiate it from the rest of the superhero onslaught we endure week to week, the one element of the X-Men films, in particular the recent rebooted chapters, is the incredible casts they boast.
Juggling countless top-flight stars as well as a slew of sought after youngsters, the casting department of the franchise haven’t missed a beat yet. The issue here is that although the cast list extends as far as a radiating beam of energy thrust out of Cyclops’ eyes, the balancing act between every character becomes an increasingly difficult task to execute well.
Regrettably, when the likes of Michael Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence are sidelined for the majority of the film (with Fassbender given a forced and awkward subplot which proceeds to see him merely float in mid air, completely silent for the majority of the film) you need to desperately reshuffle the cards.
As a villain, Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) presents a compelling, daunting and deeply ominous threat to the X-Men, on paper at least. The manifestation of unfathomable power and unmatched supremacy, this was an antagonist that was met with enormous anticipation, only to be let down in almost every way.
From the questionable prosthetics, to the poor development in character, to the overall misuse of the almighty monolithic presence, Apocalypse is a significantly uninteresting and flat ingredient in a recipe that wholeheartedly relies on his superiority and sheer might. Instead, the whiny, voice-distorted, white-eyed God elects to teleport to and from various locations, assembling his 80’s glam rock backup dancers who unenthusiastically follow him on his journey of discovery and eventual dominance.
When experiencing the multimillion dollar blockbuster epic on the big screen, the loudness, the grandeur and sensationalism should combine without fault, there really are no excuses. Perhaps it was that the producers ran out of money whilst struggling to secure the enormous cast to once again suit up and mutate, but the majority of the special effects in the picture are criminally poor.
When special effects jump out and slap you across the face with their stark artificiality, in a mega-blockbuster no less, one has to question how this got green lit. Not only does it draw sizeable attention to itself, it takes the audience out of the film altogether, leaving them with a critical sense of disbelief as opposed to a suspended one.
Where Apocalypse shines is with the casting of younger mutants who audiences are familiar with from their past incarnations. With older actors playing modern versions of the mutants in years gone by (these continuities are really getting out of hand!), the likes of Cyclops (Tye Sheridan), Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) and Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) are handled impressively well, bringing a youthful vibrancy and vulnerability to their respective roles. The days of the future cast are here, and the return of the popular Quicksilver (Evan Peters) for example, provides some more humour, as well as slickness, energy and even personal conflict into the mix.
His slow-motion sequence set to the tune of Eurythmics is quite enjoyable, however the effects are once again questionable, as is overall tonal shift given the context of the sequence itself – it will take something truly special to surpass the kitchen scene from his previous outing.
Apocalypse showed a lot of promise, it showed something significant, something unique and unlike the rest of the superhero minutiae dominating the weekly Box Office. The final product is a scattered mix of impressively crafted scenes that highlight the primary conflict at play, and messy, unpolished, poorly written sensory assaults that should’ve been much, much more engrossing. In what results in an awkward combative power of the minds in yet another wasteland of rubble and destruction, Apocalypse misses the mark, proving that the hero formula is growing old very fast.
Extinction, finality and apocalypse are meaningless words in the world of a superhero franchise. Audiences are now desensitised by cities collapsing at the hands of a floating, purple monster, therefore something new must be introduced quickly and without hesitation.
A certain red-suited, foul-mouthed member of the X-Men universe springs to mind…