10 Reasons Why ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ Is A Big Step Back For The Franchise

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X-Men: Apocalypse is the biggest X-Men film to date, an 80s-infused superhero spectacle that pits Professor X’s team of mutants against the most powerful enemy they’ve ever faced. That sounds like the recipe for a fantastic superhero film, especially after the last few entries in the series have been so strong. Unfortunately, in many ways, Apocalypse is a sizable step back for the series, with a number of flaws that hold it back from being a particularly memorable superhero film. It’s definitely much better than Batman v Superman, but it also isn’t close to being Captain America: Civil War caliber. Here are the most significant ways that X-Men: Apocalypse disappoints.

Mild SPOILERS for X-Men: Apocalypse to follow…

10. Most of the Cast Is Wasted … Yet Again

The X-Men film have always had a problem with balancing its large character rosters, as pretty much every mutant ends up getting sidelined to some degree so that Wolverine can get more screen time. Fortunately, Wolverine is relegated to a cameo here, yet the character balancing seems to be worse off than ever. As the principal stars, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, and Jennifer Lawrence naturally get the most screen time, and even a few of their younger castmates get a chance to shine (although he doesn’t make much of an impression, newcomer Tye Sheridan gets more to do as Cyclops than James Marsden ever did).

Still, a good portion of the cast — especially the women — are largely wasted; Olivia Munn’s Psylocke and Alexandra Shipp’s Storm do all their characterization with their superpowers, while Rose Byrne returns as CIA agent Moira MacTaggert and again gets little do after the end of the first act. They even went so far as to cast Jubilee and wasted resources on her costume, only to use her as a background character (reports indicate that most of her scenes were cut). Captain America: Civil War recently proved that you can make a superhero film with a large cast and still manage to make effective use of most of that cast, so Apocalypse really doesn’t have an excuse for why it fails to do the same.

http://www.superherohype.com/news/364687-x-men-apocalypse-cast-assembles-for-theater-standee Source: superherohype.com

9. Bad Costuming

Another area where the X-Men series lags behind other superhero film franchises is in its seeming refusal to outfit its characters in authentic or even good costumes. Yet again, the majority of the X-Men end up wearing boring uniforms into combat that fail to show off each character’s personality and even when the film does try to go for a more iconic look, it manages to bungle things, such as with Psylocke’s unflattering purple costume. Although they are by no means perfect, Marvel and DC have had great visual designs for most of their characters in recent years and it’s about time that the X-Men series catches up. Ironically, the best outfit may be Jubilee’s yellow trench coat, but that character is used so sparingly that it’s really a moot point. Oh and the less said about the “what were they thinking?” visual design of Apocalypse, the better; it’s 90s era, Joel Schumacher Batman movie bad, folks.

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8. Mystique

Most of the actors in X-Men: Apocalypse turn in good performances, particularly Fassbender as Magneto, whose ability to still find new dimensions to the character after so many films is worthy of recognition. Unfortunately, Jennifer Lawrence falls flat in her third time out as Mystique, phoning in a performance that she was contractually obligated for. To be fair to Lawrence, the film makes some strange choices with the way Mystique is characterized. Apparently, in the decade since the events of Days of Future Past, she’s become a hero for young mutants everywhere because … she was persuaded not to shoot Bolivar Trask? It’s never really made clear why Mystique’s actions have made her such a powerful heroic symbol, but even setting aside that quibble, it still feels like Mystique is shoehorned into the plot, especially when she starts leading the X-Men. J-Law is a great actress but it’s probably in everyone’s best interests if Apocalypse becomes her final outing with the X-Men franchise.

http://screenrant.com/x-men-apocalypse-trailer-spoilers-analysis/?view=all Source: screenrant.com

7. Bad CGI

Every comic book film has at least a few moments where the special effects look less than impressive, but for a film that cost an estimated $178 million to make, X-Men: Apocalypse sure looks cheap. The film’s CGI gets off on the wrong foot right from the get-go, with a prologue scene set in Ancient Egypt that, while actually rather exciting to watch, looks like it was ripped out of an early 2000s action-adventure (fittingly, The Mummy comes to mind) than a blockbuster from 2016. Unfortunately, things don’t really get much better from there. Of course, there are definitely some good looking moments — mutant powers look good in action and the Quicksilver scene actually benefits from its cartoonish style — but the problem is that there is just too much CGI all over this thing, making the times where the effects don’t hold up stand out even more. X-Men: Apocalypse can pretty much be summed up as one awkward-heroic-team-pose-in-front-of-a-green-screen too many.

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6. Apocalypse Is A Dud

One of this film’s biggest crimes is that it wastes the talents of Oscar Isaac, who plays the titular villain. There are so many problems with Apocalypse, it’s hard to even know where to begin. The character design is truly garish, as Isaac is buried under make-up that makes him look like he’s playing a blue version of Ivan Ooze from the 1995 Power Rangers movie (I’m definitely not the first to make that comparison, but the two look so similar it’s hard not to). He also has a strange habit of letting out a low moan every time he helps one of his four followers (in this case, Storm, Psylocke, Angel, and Magneto) unlock their true powers, which definitely doesn’t do the silly-looking villain any favors. Worst of all though is that Apocalypse’s motivations are never really made clear (he wants to rule over humanity by destroying their entire civilization, which seems rather counterproductive), which adds up to a villain who is definitely powerful, but not very interesting.

http://www.foxmovies.com/movies/x-men-apocalypse Source: foxmovies.com

5. The Timeline Makes No Sense

Would anyone even be able to tell that X-Men: Apocalypse takes place in 1983 if the film didn’t include pop culture references to signpost the era? Judging by how no one seems to age in these movies, you would think that the film was set only a few years after the events of X-Men: First Class, not a full 21 years later. The decade jumps in time over the last few X-Men movies have been mildly fun in terms of getting to see era-specific callouts such as how the X-Men would deal with the Cuban Missile Crisis, (or how on-the-nose using Metallica’s “The Four Horseman” is when used as a background song) but this film in particular borders on the absurd.

The X-Men franchise has always played fast and loose with things like continuity but are we really supposed to believe that Professor X, Magneto, and Moira MacTaggert are all in their late 40s in 1983 when they barely look older than they did in 1962? Heck, Nicholas Hoult still looks like an undergrad, but Hank McCoy has to be about 40 at this point. It’s cool to see a X-Men film set in the 80s, but when you’re constantly having to stop to think “wait, how does this character still look so young?” (and yes, I realize that characters such as Mystique don’t really age) it kind of takes away from the novelty.

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4. It’s Surprisingly Boring

You would think that a X-Men film that deals with the potential end of the world would be thrilling to watch, but long stretches of X-Men: Apocalypse are anything but. The main problem is that, while individual scenes are interesting enough when taken on their own, the whole film feels stitched together from disparate elements, resulting in a bloated mess. The overlong two and a half hour runtime certainly doesn’t help matters, but the film jumps around so often and to so many different characters that it’s difficult to feel truly invested in anything that’s happening. The strongest elements, such as Magneto family subplot and another fantastic Quicksilver scene, help break up the monotony, but unlike many other films of its ilk, these sequences aren’t compelling enough to distract you from the feeling that the film isn’t particularly interesting.

http://collider.com/x-men-apocalypse-review/ Source: collider.com

3. It Tries (And Fails) To Play Catch Up

Superhero movies continue to get bigger and more ambitious in terms of scope and scale, something that the makers of X-Men: Apocalypse are clearly aware of. Director Bryan Singer and screenwriter Simon Kinberg have crafted the biggest, most epic X-Men film to date, but it still fails to match what Marvel and even DC have accomplished recently with their grandiose superhero extravaganzas. The X-Men films are at their best when they’re tackling the allegorical beat of the comics, with the X-Men hated and ostracized by a society that fears and misunderstands them.

To its credit, Apocalypse does have moments where these issues are addressed, but all of it falls by the wayside in favor of a bombastic, effects-laden showdown with Apocalypse that lasts far too long. The result is a film that is not only dumber than its predecessors, but also doesn’t match the exciting clashes witnessed in competing films such as Captain America: Civil War and Batman v Superman. In its bid to play catch-up with its rivals, X-Men: Apocalypse ends up lagging behind.

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2. Stuck Between Generations

If anything, X-Men: Apocalypse confirms that this franchise needs new blood, especially when it comes to who’s sitting in the director’s chair. We should all be thankful for what Bryan Singer has managed to do with the X-Men franchise; after all, he helped foster the modern comic book movie boom back in 2000 with the first X-Men movie, but it’s time that he let someone else take the helm. As much as Singer has made attempts, first with Days of Future Past and now with Apocalypse, to keep the series vital in an era where a new comic book movie is released practically every other month, his style increasingly feels dated.

The franchise needs another Matthew Vaughn (the director of First Class, still the best film in the franchise) to come in and revitalize the X-Men.  To help usher in the next era, everything that isn’t working right now needs to be jettisoned. X-Men: Apocalypse may be a disappointing end to the most recent trilogy of films, but it also has the potential to be a fresh start if Fox can figure out how to pull the series out of the past (or even just blow it up completely and give us a real reboot this time).

http://www.digitalspy.com/movies/x-men/feature/a660080/x-men-apocalypse-everything-you-need-to-know-including-cast-spoilers-trailer-release-date-and-more/ Source: digitalspy.com

1. It’s Less Ambitious Than Its Predecessors

X-Men: Apocalypse may ratchet up the stakes by bringing in the most powerful adversary in franchise history, but it’s somehow a less ambitious film than both First Class and Days of Future Past. The main advantage that those films have over Apocalypse is that they both felt different; not only from previous X-Men films, but other superhero films in general. First Class was essentially a period piece political drama that just so happened to feature characters that could read minds and control magnetic fields, while Days of Future Past boldly played with time travel and the franchise’s own continuity.

In contrast, Apocalypse feels like something we’ve seen already; another in a long line of movies that pits its heroes against a worldwide threat. Now, that isn’t automatically a recipe for staleness, as talented writers can make even the most tired narrative device feel fresh, but there simply isn’t enough that’s clever or original about Apocalypse to put it on the same level as its predecessors. Jean Grey comments at one point that the third film is always the worst, a sly dig at the universally-reviled X-Men: The Last Stand that ironically also describes this new film just as well.

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Nick Steinberg (@Nick_Steinberg)

Nick Steinberg (@Nick_Steinberg)