Being the third in a trilogy is kind of like being the youngest kid in an over-achieving family. You’ll always be compared to your siblings and no matter what you do or how well you do it, you’ll never quite live up to them. This effect is magnified if you happen to be a slacker who lives in the basement and smokes pot all day.
X-Men: Apocalypse isn’t exactly the basement dwelling pot-smoker, but it’s no Eagle Scout either.
This time-skipping trilogy brings us to the 1980’s, where the very first and most powerful mutant ever has awoken after thousands of years. Apocalypse is his name and he’s amassing a team of equally tough mutants, with plans to destroy the world. His search leads to Magneto who, having been dealt a horrible blow in his personal life, is ready and willing to help. A group of Charles Xavier’s young students, who are still not capable of controlling their own powers, must join forces and stop Apocalypse before he creates a new world order.
X-Men: Apocalypse has three primary things going against it and the first is miscasting. Our dreaded mutant Apocalypse is played by Oscar Isaac and for the first time in his distinguished career, he doesn’t cut the mustard. This guy is supposedly as old as time itself and can’t wait to take out the human race. He should be terrifying but instead, he just skulks around and whispers ominously. Magneto becomes Apocalypse’s best chance of killing off humanity, but fans already know how he regularly changes out of his black hat and into a white one. This and another Magneto surprise keeps the threat of Apocalypse from ever feeling real.
There’s also the problem of some truly cumbersome story telling. Marvel has given the world exceptional superhero films this year, which further the stories of characters we already love. X-Men: Apocalypse just gives us another bad-guy who needs to be defeated. Yes, there are some interesting developments (namely for Magneto and Quicksilver) but we spend most of the movie getting to know younger versions of mutants we’ve met (and liked more) before. I’m especially disappointed in the casting of Sophie Turner as Jean Grey. Sophie works well as Sansa Stark because she channels that character’s dewy ineptitude, but she can’t muster Jean’s inner strength. In fact, when Jean finally harnesses her powers in this movie, it’s reflected more through Sophie’s heavy eye-liner than her performance.
The third and biggest problem with X-Men: Apocalypse is, as I stated before, it’s complete inability to live up to it’s predecessors. X-Men: First Class gave us an exceptional origin story while X-Men: Days of Future Past managed to tell two simultaneous and equally exciting mutant stories. It’s almost unfair to follow those up with just another good-guys-battle-the-bad-guy story.
In other words, this movie might have looked much better if it hadn’t been preceded by an Eagle Scout and a Homecoming Queen, but as it stands, X-Men: Apocalypse is moving into the basement. –C-