Tuesday, May 31, 2016

X-Men Apocalypse Review: Extraordinary Entry in X-Men Series

For over a decade Marvel's X-Men have been through much on the silver screen. The team of mutants have had 9 films to their name, and in the franchise's history the series has seen highs, lows and Deadpool. Yet despite its extensive cinematic history, there have been certain elements and characters from the X-Men comics have that eluded a celluloid debut. Among the missing factors have been some of the X-Men's most notorious rogues gallery member; with of course the exception of the Magneto. However this could change thanks to the latest entry in the superhero franchise: X-Men Apocalypse. Continuing the story started in X-Men: First Class, Apocalypse not only brings one of Marvel's most iconic villains to the silver screen, but the new movie is said to be a end of sorts to this chapter in the X-Men franchise. So is X-Men: Apocalypse a strong outing for the series, or is the latest entry in the superhero franchise not fit to the X-Men name?

Taking place 10 years after then events of Days of Future Past, Apocalypse continues the story of Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender). Since mutantkind had been revealed to the world, the former X-Men have put their heroic days behind them as Charles runs his school for the gifted, Raven continues her mission to save lost mutants and Eric surprisingly starts a family. However all of this changes when an ancient mutant named En Sabah Nur (Oscar Issac) awakens to a brave new world. Seeing that the world must be cleanse, Apocalypse sets off to destroy humankind with the help of his horsemen Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Psylocke (Olvia Munn), Angel (Ben Hardy) and even Magneto. To stop this threat Mystique, along with Beast (Nicholas Hoult), form a  team of mutants including Cyclops (Tye Sheridan), Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) and Quicksilver (Evan Peters); and together they become the new X-Men.

The story to Apocalypse is perhaps the largest tale to be told in the series. With plot points such as introducing familiar X-Men, Magneto's new life and of course the threat of Apocalypse there was much to tell in this story.  This sense of storytelling did work in favor for the movie, but is also hindered the film's presentation. Because so much was going on it was difficult for the story to have strong focus. This is not to say that the plot's structure was sporadic nor was it completely ineffective. However the story's large scale nature had an underwhelming impact as (when it came down to it) there was not much to this super powered plot. That being said, the story to X-Men: Apocalypse certainly had its share of positive factors. The plot to Apocalypse works in a way where it brings events started in First Class to a full circle; while feeling like a new beginning for the X-Men series. Though the story's impact could have been stronger, this is not to say that the plot was not exciting. This was made apparent when the film reached its massive climax. Film's final act was not only both intense and exciting, but it featured moments that did justice to the title of X-Men.
The X-Men films have always featured massive ensembles, and Apocalypse only continued this tradition. In recent years the X-Men cast have been well structured and filled a variety of memorable characters. The ensemble to X-Men Apocalypse was no exception to this either. The movie featured strong leads in the likes of James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence and even Nicolas Hoult. Each of these characters have come a long way from the first film and this was apparent in both their direction as well as actors' performance. I particularly liked the direction of Magneto in this film as it felt a natural growth for the characters that we not seen in previous films. However even these strong lead characters, the new addition to the cast seemed to be just as effective as their verteran castmates. Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, Alexandra Shipp and Kodi Smit-McPhee brought refreshing takes to the characters of Jean Grey, Cyclops, Storm and Nightcrawler. Even minor characters such as Psylocke, Angel, Havok (Lucas Till) and Jubilee (Lana Condor) were great additions for the cast-though I was hoping to see a little more from Jubilee. Then there was the film's villain. While his direction a little blunt, Apocalypse was quite impressive as Oscar Issac's performance helped to bring this iconic antagonist to life. With other great characters like Quicksilver, Moira MacTaggert (Rose Bryne) and a particular cameo, the cast to X-Men Apocalypse was another great ensemble for both the  series as well as the genre of superhero movies.

With the series many accomplishments, it is hard to see anything new coming from the  movie's technical aspects; and this was the case for Apocalypse. When it came to elements such as effects and action, there was nothing that was too different from the movie's predecessors. However this is not to say either of these elements (or any of the movie's technical aspects) were bad. On the contrary these elements were quite effective. The effects to movie seemed appropriate as it had a sense of variety in the likes of visuals. The film's action once again did justice to the X-Men name as every sequence, from Quicksilver's speed moment to the film's final battle, were all a treat to see. Along with the movie's effects and action was the score by John Ottman. The score felt appropriate for the movie's concept while keeping true to the familiar tunes heard from the X-Men franchise. Hearing Ottman's X-Men Suite play always gives me goosebumps when I hear it, and I was certainly happy to listen to its latest rendition in this new movie.

X-Men Apocalypse is a fitting entry for this Marvel franchise. The movie is not the most effective in the series as it did have some issues in its execution. However there was so much that this film did right; from its big ideas to its exciting moments. Though the film may not be as strong as its predecessors, X-Men Apocalypse definitely brings a sense of justice to its name; and leaving this Film Adventurer to believe that the next chapter in the X-Men series is in a strong place to begin its next chapter.

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