Is X-Men: Apocalypse Really That Bad?

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Bryan Singer’s fourth installation in the cinematic X-Men Universe, which he started sixteen years ago with X-Men (2000), brings to an end the prequel trilogy (X-Men: First Class (2011), X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) and now X-Men: Apocalypse (2016). Normally when critics eviscerate a movie as universally and thoroughly as they did this one (it’s the lowest rated X-Men movie listed on Rotten Tomatoes) I wouldn’t bother seeing it.

However, I love the X-Men universe and only one movie left a sour taste in my mouth (X-Men: The Last Stand—can we please pretend this movie never happened?), so I sat down with an open mind and hoped that one of my favorite childhood superhero franchises hadn’t been ruined beyond all possible redemption. As it turns out, it wasn’t the absolute destruction of the X-Men franchise. On the contrary, although this movie has some serious flaws, it opened up the possibilities for the series’s future.

The movie begins in 3600 BCE in Ancient Egypt, where we are first introduced to Apocalypse (think member of the Blue Man Group on steroids), the first-ever mutant and the one who is perhaps the most menacing. When we meet him, he is once again succumbing to old age and is preparing to transfer his consciousness to another mutant whose powers he wishes to add to his ever-growing arsenal. Some of his servants turn on him though and begin a cataclysmic destruction of the pyramid where the transference is taking place, thus almost killing him and sending him into a deep sleep.

He is awakened from his 5,600-year nap by followers in 1983. He then has to gather new followers, and we have a chance to catch up with all of our favorite mutants’ lives in the 1980s.

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This takes quite a bit of time. Normally I’m all about the slow burn, but pacing issues make the first part of the movie very slow. Having to essentially play catch up with all of the characters (set twenty years after X-Men: First Class) is a bit much to handle. These sequences dragged for me, and I found myself getting a bit bored with the extended back story.

However, I don’t really believe that there is any way around this. It is needed to set up the rest of the movie, and if you can get through the first hour or so of the almost-150-minute movie, then you’re golden. Patience definitely pays off for this one.

If you don’t have it though, you can also fast forward through some of the more action-heavy sequences. Trust me, there’s not much being said that’s integral to the rest of the movie. If you appreciate special effects and elements of universal destruction (and who doesn’t?) then take your time and enjoy it. They are pretty cool.

Although the movie loses its focus occasionally (there are too many characters), there are great storylines in the movie. Most important is Magneto’s (played by Michael Fassebender). Without that fantastic Irishman, the story would’ve been doomed. He and Professor X are the heart and soul of the movie and are both wonderfully bright spots in this film. Quicksilver provides the comic relief and Jean Gray and Scott Summers are just coming into their powers during build up to the final (extended 30 minute) action sequence. There’s also a quick uncredited cameo by Wolverine. There’s no reason for this…just more Hugh Jackman for our viewing pleasure.

All in all, this movie is fun. So feel free to ignore most of what the critics said and sit back and enjoy yourself. I believe that we mere mortals (i.e. not paid film critics) will have fun with it. Yes, it has its flaws, but it also has some wonderful exposition and character development that is needed for the (possible) future of the film franchise. Don’t think too hard about this one. It’s not exactly Inception, but it is entertaining.

-Whitney Z.

Is it really that bad? Decide for yourself.

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Whitney Z. is a native Pittsburgher. She is currently a substitute Library Assistant who loves audiobooks, music and movies. She believes firmly that NASA made a mistake in demoting Pluto and would sincerely like for said decision to be reversed.