By Travis Trombley
Following First Class and Days of Future Past, two well received installments in a prequel trilogy, Apocalypse has a lot to live up to. Sadly, the critics have thus far been unimpressed.
Here’s a quick roundup of the most salient praises and criticisms published about the film thus far.
Newsarama highlights how some of the film’s best scenes are simply amped up versions of Singer's past exploits, like Nightcrawler’s opening in X2 and Quicksilver’s pentagon scene in DoFP.
That said, the younger cast members who make up the new “class” of X-Men have also been well received. IGN says the film works best when following these unestablished characters played with a sense of skillful frailty. The most noteworthy seems to be Smit-McPhee’s Nightcrawler.
Vox says, “There's an innocence and humor about the character and Smit-McPhee's performance that gives this movie life. And Singer shows, as he first did in X2, that he has a real understanding of what makes this character special.”
Lastly, many have identified the CGI heavy action sequences as noteworthy additions of spectacle that, as Newsarama says, may rival Marvel’s.
Sadly, the film’s namesake villain disappointed the vast majority of reviewers so much that his has become the face of silly comic book baddies. Despite the talent of Oscar Isaac, who tries to communicate his character’s evil through eye acting and grandiose speeches, Apocalypse debuts on screen as a flat, boring villain, according to most critics.
According to the folks at What the Flick?!, Apocalypse’s cardinal sin may not be that he removes all sense of ambiguity or race relation metaphor from the film, but that villain’s writing denies Isaac the opportunity to be the villain we all want him to be.
“He was more terrifying dancing around in Ex Machina than he is in the entirety of this movie as the most evil mutant ever made,” Christy Lemire says.
Worse yet, Apocalypse, while the worst offender, isn’t the only waste of acting potential, critics say. WhatCulture calls Apocalypse “an astounding waste of potential that could feasibly kill the franchise.” Old and new cast members alike are simply given too little time to shine.
This is largely attributed to the film’s attempt to juggle too much. “The result is a lot of cool-looking characters who lack backstory and depth,” according to Gamespot. “Characters like Psylocke and Angel are introduced, but they never seem to reach their full, narrative potential. Where did they come from and why did they join Apocalypse so readily?”
Additionally, IGN criticizes the film for failing to provide closure for the three primary characters in First Class and DoFP, and - unlike its predecessors - for not making use of its historical setting. Beyond a few cultural references, “this movie could have played out in any decade,” they say.
It’s a shame that this film seems to have traded the character-centric heart that pumped new blood into First Class and DoFP, setting them apart from most other superhero fare, for the abs and callused knuckles of an action heavy blockbuster. Regardless of how spectacular the spectacle, this movie excited me as a return to the Eric-Charles-Raven dynamic.
Look for our review after the film debuts to general audiences on May 27.