X-Men: Apocalypse runs over two hours, which is surprising because–while the movie does plod along–I didn’t realize it plodded along for quite so long. I guess the first act is more successful in hindsight than while it plays out.
This entry takes place, pointlessly, in the early 1980s. Oscar Isaac is the blue mutant Mummy, back from the dead to take over the world. He enlists four people to help him. One of those people is Michael Fassbender. He’s got a wife and kid since the last movie. Seeing Fassbender’s retired mutant terrorist now a doting dad somewhere in the Soviet Bloc is kind of neat. Fassbender’s exhausted this time around. Playing second fiddle to Isaac, most of Fassbender’s eventual performance consists of reaction shots. At least during the first act, he gets something to do.
But I got sidetracked. I wanted to count the characters. We’re up to seven. Yes, seven. Bad guys and people related to the bad guys. Isaac’s other lackeys get even less to do than Fassbender, though Alexandra Shipp does get a couple scenes to act in. She’s good. Olivia Munn has maybe two scenes with acting and she seems like she’s good. Shipp at least gets an arc, Munn doesn’t. Ben Hardy’s the other lackey. He’s awful. Luckily, he has even less to do than Munn.
But there are also a lot of good guys. Jennifer Lawrence, James McAvoy and Nicholas Hoult are all back. Each is good in parts, none of them has a good part in the script, none of them has a character arc. Evan Peters is back, Rose Byrne is back. Byrne has nothing to do. But she manages. Peters has a bunch; he’s great. Kodi Smit-McPhee is another new addition. He’s actually great, which is a surprise in this film. Other new additions Sophie Turner and Tye Sheridan are both bad, with Sheridan being infinitely worse than Turner. And she’s still pretty dang bad.
Great photography from Newton Thomas Sigel. Tired music from John Ottman. Tired direction from Singer. Apocalypse doesn’t really have a story for Isaac outside lame world domination, so screenwriter Simon Kinberg and Singer just pack it with characters.
See, I forgot. I was supposed to be counting. It’s something like fifteen characters. It’s way too many. If the acting were better, they might carry it, but it’s not. And even though Turner and Sheridan, as good guys, get more to do than Munn and Shipp, it’s not character stuff.
X-Men: Apocalypse is a lame, by the numbers superhero event picture. Fassbender looks painfully contractually obligated to participate, with McAvoy and Lawrence hiding it a little better. Hoult is the most enthusiastic and, when one gets bored watching the film, he does imply seeing these characters together should be special. It isn’t, but what if it were?
Oh, and Isaac. He’s actually good. His part is terribly written, terribly directed, with dumb audio effects in post, but he’s scary as an immortal, evil Smurf.