The MCU is the worst thing to happen to Bryan Singer. He comes from a time when superhero movies were afraid of their source material and tried desperately to disassociate. That is why the costumes were monochrome, the characters terrible, and the stories perpetuated the overall tonal darkness. In X-Men, a series supposedly about a team, there is no ensemble, and the supporting characters do not even talk or have defined personalities. Seriously, Colossus never uttered a single sentence in Singer’s X-Men until Deadpool.
The MCU, however, takes everything seriously and does not change it. First Class was an attempt at that process and they pulled it off flawlessly. It was also technically a reboot that redressed the series after X3 and Origins. I thought the movies would continue from there… until Singer came back for Days of Future Past. While Deadpool proved you do not have to be dark to succeed, I have a feeling Apocalypse is going to do otherwise. Will Fox continue to dig its own grave beside Warner Brothers or has it seen the error of its ways?
After an ancient mutant called Apocalypse, played by Oscar Isaac, wakes up in 1983, he decides to wipe out humanity and remake the world where only superior mutants rule. To stop him, Mystique, played by Jennifer Lawrence, comes out of hiding to reunite the X-Men.
I think Singer has forgotten how to film superheroes and action in general. The first two movies were fine with X2 having some of the best sequences of the series. With the last one and Apocalypse, he has regressed to this box-standard, dull cinematography that does not work for superheroes.
Instead of spectacle and dynamic shots, there many close ups and tight angles that do not show anything but the characters in frame. There is a scene where Magneto visits Auschwitz and instead of having an emotional impact, the camera and characters are confined to a barbwire enclosure, standing there for two whole minutes. He could not have been walking around, maybe had a few flashbacks, and feel vindicated for hating humanity.
When action is happening it is filmed with no attempt at making it look harrowing or active. It does not inspire feeling because it does not appear alive and physical compared to something like this. There is a scene where Angel gains his powers and I could not tell how it was affecting him because the camera held on the metal wings sprouting out his back. The one time the action was well shot was the first Quicksilver scene.
Regardless of the poor cinematography, the rest of Apocalypse is mediocre. The issue is inherent in Singer’s X-Men where the characters do not matter. Sure, Cyclops dealt with some heavy stuff and Jean had an arc that will (spoiler) piss off fans of the Phoenix Saga, but the rest of them were just there. Nightcrawler was hanging out, Psylocke passed by, and Hank did nothing. Instead of their drama driving the story it is vice versa and the story was a poor retread of X2 with Apocalypse wanting Xavier’s power.
The worst part was how Magneto was given a family to be killed off so he could join the Horseman. Why he quit being a villain in the first place I could not figure out, even after watching Days of Future Past. He does not need more motivation because the guy has firsthand experience as a Holocaust survivor. If he just volunteered to be a Horseman or did something else that would have been fine.
It was like watching an episode of Walking Dead.
The costumes are still bad. Apocalypse and friends wear faux-armor of strips stacked on top of each other. His suit is the worst with the most strips made to look Egyptian, including some cords on his head, and a loincloth. The shoddy make-up did not help either. The X-Men wore black soft-shell uniforms from Mass Effect and it was fine. They keep the same aesthetic with their official character uniforms. Diehard fans will not like it, but I did not have a problem.
Honestly, I think I have said enough. Around about here I would talk about the acting and mention the blatantly tacked on witty banter, but because the performances were not good or bad, I do not see a point in bringing them up. They fit the characters despite being wrong and I liked the batter.
While BvS was depressing for trying to be something it could not, X-Men: Apocalypse is simply mediocre. In a post Civil War world, expectations could not be higher, and when you have a franchise that is all about character drama, why shoot yourself in the foot by making a film about anything but? I do not understand and I am not a fan of the X-Men to begin with. I just want to watch a movie and actually care about the people involved.
If you want to see something X-Men related that is good, the first two movies, First Class, and The Wolverine are great. But if you want the real X-Men, I highly recommend checking out the Epic History X-Men series from the venerable ComicBookGirl19. When it comes to all things comics, she knows what she is talking about. The first two videos are available on YouTube and the third installment will be up on Vimeo for $3.99 on the 30th.