Since the advent of superhero movies, the X-Men franchise has always been an interesting one to follow. Even though they are films about mutants, they are, bizarrely, some of the must human offerings to have come from this genre. Often going much further than spectacle, the stories have been steeped in social and political commentary, even going as far as having the closest thing to a ‘coming out’ scene that we’ve had from a film of its kind.
With this at the forefront of my mind, it pains me to see the latest instalment in the series, X-Men: Apocalypse, as nothing more than a shadow of its former glory. At a time where each superhero film tries to outdo the other with their levels of destruction, this sees the titular mutants fall into the same trap of crumbling-building-chaos as they face their greatest adversary to date; sans the USP of the previous films.
Undeniably entertaining in places, Simon Kinberg’s script simply lacks the heart and undertone that usually comes with the X-Men. Efforts are made to re-capture a sense of statement, reaching peak metaphor in a sequence where Michael Fassbender’s Magneto literally rips the Auschwitz – the site of the biggest ethnic cleansing in human history – from the ground and destroys it. It’s a fleetingly powerful moment in an otherwise mediocre adventure.
There are some moments which work, namely the film’s ancient Egypt-set opening sequence which introduces us to the film’s central villain; the god-like, first ever mutant, Apocalypse. It’s a surprisingly violent and thrilling opening which is only topped by a moment later on in the film which sees everybody’s favourite new mutant, Quicksilver, speed through an exploding building to save various people and pizza-eating pets.
At these points, regular X-Men director, Bryan Singer, seems to be having some of the most fun he’s had his entire run on the series. With every moment of brilliance, however, come numerous moments of familiar imagery and tropes which we’ve seen time and time again. And, because of this, it’s hard not to feel slightly fatigued by it all.
During its almost two and a half hour running time – apparently the standard length for a modern day superhero film – I found myself feeling bored on a number of occasions, my mind wandering especially during a twenty-minute sequence which serves no purpose other than to provide a cameo for a certain mutant.
Jennifer Lawrence and Michael Fassbender look equally as bored on-screen, their character development being stretched thin, seemingly for the sake of keeping the two a-list stars busy. Even with a 1980s setting, there’s a lack of colour and excitement surrounding proceedings. More so than in other movies, it is an opportunity which is squandered, with references essentially limited to Return of The Jedi and Pac-Man.
X-Men: Apocalypse does feel like it’s going through the motions, offering very few surprises and even less originality. It is enjoyable in places – especially when compared to this year’s Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice – but whilst it is wholly passable, it never reaches the levels of greatness of its predecessors. It may not be anything special, but then it isn’t the end of the world either. Oh, wait…
Image credit to http://www.impawards.com