Monday, May 23, 2016

X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)

Review #1,303






THE SCOOP
Director:  Bryan Singer
Cast:  James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Oscar Issac
Plot:  With the emergence of the world's first mutant, Apocalypse, the X-Men must unite to defeat his extinction level plan.

Genre:  Action / Fantasy
Awards:  -
Runtime:  144min
Rating:  PG13 for sequences of violence, action and destruction, brief strong language and some suggestive images.
Distributor:  20th Century Fox

IN RETROSPECT (Spoilers: NO)
“You are all my children, and you're lost because you follow blind leaders.  No more false gods.  I'm here now.”

There's a scene in the film, where a few characters come out of a theatre playing Return of the Jedi (1983) making remarks about how the third installment of any franchise is always the weakest.  Well, that was true of Brett Ratner’s X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) a decade ago, and this time even with franchise stalwart Bryan Singer at the helm, X-Men: Apocalypse can be seen as a disappointment. 

Of course, this has to be put in context when comparing with the excellent X-Men: First Class (2011) and X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) that preceded it.  Apocalypse on its own is a fairly entertaining CG-extravaganza—you cannot fault its ambitiousness and desired intention to be the most epic of all ‘X-Men’ movies to date.  When placed alongside the truly abysmal Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) earlier this year, Apocalypse is actually okay. 

However, it does feel overdrawn and overly reliant on its visuals and effects to sustain viewers’ interests.  On some occasions, it struggles under the weight of its ambition—its half-baked narrative also doesn’t quite pull the dramatic and emotional strings effectively.

In Apocalypse, the blue-faced villain, suitably named Apocalypse, comes back to life after being buried under the sands in Egypt thousands of years ago.  Faced with a modern world built on ideas of law, justice, morality and maybe, democracy, the omnipresent baddie seeks to unite all mutants and obliterate humanity to rule the world as God.  Of course, the X-Men need to save the day. 

Perhaps one of the reasons why this third installment doesn’t fare too well might be due to its sheer familiarity—it’s something we have seen before in similar form in other apocalyptic movies, a far cry from the rather refreshing First Class and time-travelling complexity of Days of Future Past.  It doesn’t quite add much to the franchise, except to bridge the gap with Singer’s X-Men (2000) while also leaving room for another sequel if the cash register keeps ringing. 

In a nutshell, the movie is in some middling middle ground.  But it is nowhere near as disastrous as reviews would have led you to believe. 

Verdict:  The latest in the ‘X-Men’ screen universe is an ambitiously-flawed, CG-laden disaster movie-esque epic, but it is nowhere near as disastrous as reviews would have led you to believe.

GRADE: B- 






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