Article By: Robert Sommerfield
The X-Men film franchise, which has been around since the dawn of the late ‘90s “superhero boom,” is unleashing its newest chapter in the ongoing saga, X-Men: Apocalypse. The sixth film in the main series (not counting several spinoffs) has a difficult task ahead of it: can the producers capitalize on the highly profitable and popular previous entry, Days of Future Past and, at the same time, stay true to the diehard fans who have been waiting for this classic X-Men tale to finally make its way onto the silver screen for over a decade? The film series already has the advantage of having arguably the richest comic book superheroes, villains, and story arcs to be able to draw ideas from, but that doesn’t necessarily mean these characters and ideas will transfer well to film.
As much as it pains me to type this, I have a few issues with X-Men: Apocalypse. As a devoted X-Men fan since I was a child, this particular storyline was the one I had been waiting to see transferred to film ever since I first saw Hugh Jackman unleash his claws on opening night of the very first X-Men film, nearly sixteen years ago (!). Not only does that make me feel incredibly old, but it gives me the perspective of someone who has grown up with these films – and that’s my true issue here. While I’ve (hopefully) grown and matured over the years, the X-Men filmseries seems kind of trapped in this “turn of the century superhero movie bubble”. When compared to other superhero movies done by the Disney/Marvel team, they seem a little cheesy – and almost childish at times in their execution.
Much of this is probably a direct result of Brian Singer’s involvement, who has pretty much guided the series throughout its lifecycle. Now this may seem a bit unfair to lavish onto X-Men: Apocalypse when it’s clearly an issue with the series itself as opposed to just the newest entry but I disagree. I kind of feel like the last two entries, First Class and Days of Future Past seemed to be taking a few steps into the right direction with the feeling of a progression of quality, but Apocalypse, in my rather humble opinion, seems to take a half step backwards. I would love to see this series hit that next level and really rival the Disney/Marvel releases.
It may seem like I’m bagging harshly on the film, and I don’t mean to. For X-Men fans, there are still plenty of things to love in this movie and a lot of gorgeous FX eye candy to treat yourself to. The movie does a very good job of feeling large scale and epic as well. Scenes of entire cities being taken apart and put back together look amazing.
So, overall, where does this entry stand in the entire X-Men franchise? I’d slot it around the middle of the pack. While I did have a good time, I can’t help but walk out feeling a bit disappointed at the missed opportunities that could have made this film the best in the series. That being said, if you’ve enjoyed the majority of the previous X-Men film releases, odds are that you’ll enjoy this one as well — just go in with modest expectations.