Tuesday, 24 May 2016

X-Men: Apocalypse

Back in the ancient Egyptian times the people of Egypt worshipped a god who is regarded as the first ever mutant, this mutant is Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac). To live a life of immortality Apocalypse transfers his mind into a body of a younger man, however, before the transition is complete, Apocalypse is betrayed by his followers and buried alive. Thousands of years later he his reborn and he recruits four powerful mutants, including Fassbender’s Magneto, and begins to rid of the world of humans. Meanwhile, humans and mutants still struggle to live in harmony and this divides the mutant kind ensuring that the fight against Apocalypse is a fraught and divided one.

After walking out of a screening of Return of the Jedi, Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) says that the third film of a franchise is always the worst, frankly we can agree with her here. The third film of the rebooted X-Men franchise is by far the messiest of a franchise not known for its clarity in storytelling. The film’s problem, and the franchise’s as whole, is the fact that there are so many characters its very easy for many of them to get left on wayside.

The older characters still retain much of their attributes and relationships that makes them interesting and worth devoting time to (there's a great early scene involving Magneto) but some of the newer characters such as Psylocke (Oliva Munn), Storm (Alexandra Shipp) and Angel (Ben Hardy), three of the four Horseman, are left woefully underdeveloped. In fact, the whole saga of them joining Apocalypse is so shockingly written it may as well have been a montage scene. There is very little in the way explanation to why they joined Apocalypse except for one scene where humans were nasty to them. However, other new characters received further development, the likes of Cyclops (Tye Sheridan), Jean Grey and Nightcrawler are much better characters but the three cast members don’t seem to have an effective chemistry because they don’t spent enough time together.

The biggest problem with the storyline is the sense of repetitiveness, many of the by the numbers human characters are killed in the same way (debris through the neck) and the fact there always seems to a be more powerful mutant trumping a powerful but less slightly weaker mutant means there is relatively little threat in a story that suffered from inconstant pacing. What also feels repetitive is the film’s discussion of its central themes. The setting for the recent X-Men franchise is no coincidence and parallels to racism in America in the latter half of the twenty century are easily drawn. However, by the third film the themes of Mutant discrimination and constant feelings of fear and insecurity feel less fresh than they did previously.

One of the struggles all superhero/marvel movies have had over the recent years is creating a generally good villain. From Guardians of the Galaxy to The Avengers: Age of Ultron all villains have been weak and things have yet to improve in the latest X-men film. Apocalypse’s motivations also suffer from a nagging feeling of repetitiveness as another all-powerful mutant wishes to destroy humanity because of his horror at how humanity has 'lost its way'. There’s nothing wrong with Oscar Issac’s performance, but poor character design makes Apocalypse nothing more than a super powerful cardboard cut-out.

The cast do a good job with their characters, some of whom are more fleshed out than others, with the newcomers proving a match for the veterans of the franchise. The film is, on the whole, enjoyable but a villain with boring motivations and a massive sense of daja vu means that the third X-men film is the worst of the prequels.

Note: Had to delete my previous post because of formatting issues

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