The X-Men are back once more but cash in quite late to the 2016 run of comic book movies. No doubt some of the critical backlash for this film comes from it being released after a string of successful comic book movies (Deadpool, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, Captain America: Civil War). However, I might be so bold to say that I found the latest X-Men outing, Apocalypse, to be the best CBM of the year.
I must say, Civil War just enraged me and left me cold. X-Men: Apocalypse was the CBM which actually understands how to deliver a satisfying and enjoyable summer blockbuster. It’s somewhat old fashioned and formulaic in its approach, but I must say, it’s thoroughly engaging and entertaining.
Director Brian Singer handles his cast and characters spectacularly well and with seemingly great ease. Everyone is given plenty of time on screen and the new characters are introduced and written very well. The new cast members all seem to fit into their roles nicely, however, Sophie Turner as Jean Grey appears to need some more time to fit into the character as she comes across a bit ropey here.
The returning cast are great, specifically Michael Fassbender as Magneto, who seems to go through identical arcs as in First Class, yet they are still some of the best scenes in the film. Quicksilver once again has an extended sequence and it’s unsurprisingly the best scene in the film. It’s a refreshing reminder of how to handle levity in a serious CBM film without undermining the tension and peril; a lesson that Marvel’s Cinematic Universe could learn from.
Apocalypse makes for a successful yet somewhat generic villain. It’s a shame seeing a character like this as the antagonist when Ian McKellen’s impressive Magneto came only a decade ago. Apocalypse certainly is imposing and manages to make it seem like the stakes are quite real. This universe isn’t afraid to take risks and be bold and that certainly remained here. The body count is sometimes felt and destruction is plentiful. However, it’s the personal destruction that keeps you hooked. This refers back to Magneto’s terrific scenes of self-destruction and revenge.
I can’t say that X-Men: Apocalypse breaks new ground or does anything subversive to the genre, but in the year where each CBM has attempted to be revolutionary in its own way, this film serves as a welcome reminder to what a real summer blockbuster is. It’s fun, very entertaining, expertly balances peril with levity, and handles its massive amount of characters really well. The film must also be praised for successfully carrying on the X-Men timeline following the huge shake-up in Days of Future Past.
Overall, I’ll probably be in the minority for having this as my current favourite CBM of 2016. It’s a great reminder of the silent superiority of FOX, and it certainly manages to get you excited about the potential for the series’ future.
Written by Luke Compton