X-Men: Third Class
Credit where credit is due; Bryan Singer has done as much for the X-Men franchise as he has for the popularity of the superhero film genre as a whole thanks mainly to the success of the two original X-Men films.
This was followed by the abysmal X3 (which took a hearty dump on the franchise) and a number of middling Wolverine films before First Class and Days of Future Past brought fresh faces and ideas to the franchise whilst expertly weaving in aspects of the original films and real life events alike.
Its a shame to see the third X-Men film, once again, abandon a winning formula in favour of gratuitous CGI.
Watching Professor X (James Mcavoy) and Magneto (Michael Fastener) struggle to keep together their friendship whilst staunchly supporting their own opposing ideals was one of the best aspects of the previous two X-Men films. It’s a saga that Apocalypse needed to simply drop a cherry on top of, drop the mic and walk off into the sunset yet these two icons barely exchange a single word.
Instead the dialogue is proliferated by Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) who reels off self infatuated monologues to anyone who will listen which, as it turns out, is no-one.
This dialogue is meant to make us understand why his four horseman chose to unquestionably follow him. However, it’s hard to comprehend this devotion when such a terrifyingly powerful mutant spends more time preening and fabulous-ising his horseman than he does being the titular harbinger of doom.
Even in the final fight with Apocalypse he does nothing. Literally. Nothing. You have a couple of x-men standing still whilst CGI whirls around them and Apocalypse standing still whilst CGI whirls around him.
Compare that to the dynamic and imaginative fight scenes captured in Civil War and the action is hugely disappointing. It’s almost as if this film was adapting an issue of Marvel’s “What if…” comic book series – this one is “What if Roland Emmerich directed X-Men?”
Apocalypse, as a villain, sits right on top of shit-heap that is the MCU’s catalogue of underwhelming villains but moreover the whole film simply tries to do too much ending with mixed results.
The latest offering introduces new X-Men and old favourites. The absolute best scene in the film is once again stolen by Quicksilver (Even Peters) . It doesn’t live up to the kitchen scene from Days of Future Past – one of the most clever and entertaining moments in recent film – but it still is a welcome injection of fun.
On the flip side is Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) who’s unnecessary appearance is an attempt to connect his Origins film but it doesn’t advance the plot and the aggressive nature of the scene doesn’t fit with the feel of the rest of the film.
Equally unpalatable is the criminally under-utilised Psylocke (Olivia Munn), the newly turned emo version of Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee), Jubilee (Lana Condor) with her multiple cameos and Jean Grey (Sophie turner) who… well… I just think is bad at acting!
On the plus side we get really excellent versions of Storm (Alexandra Shipp) and Cyclops (Tye Sheridan) who are both exciting and enigmatic new faces. They are perfectly placed to take the franchise forwards without having to rely on the juggernauts (pun intended) of McAvoy and Fassbender.
With so many characters to juggle and back stories to fill it’s unsurprising that the large chunks of the story feel completely disjointed as we jump from unrelated story to unrelated story with the exception of perhaps Storm’s involvement in the overall plot.
Even though it is largely unrelated to the main story the details of Magneto’s life after the events of the previous films are rather touching. It’s only a glimpse at what could have been but I would absolutely be interested in watching a Magneto standalone film that explores the tumultuous mind of Eric Lehnsherr.
The above might sound like I’m shitting on X-Men apocalypse and in a way I am, but it’s not because it’s a bad film to watch more that it’s lost focus of what was important in this film. Complete the Professor X, Magneto saga, introduce fresh faces to star in the next reboot and show some eye popping and imaginative action scenes.
Sure, it does some of the above but in a weird moment of self reflection it’s ironic that Jean Grey even states: “At least we can all agree the third one is always the worst”. Yes. Yes we can.
The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:
+ Quicksilver’s moment of glory
+ Most of the ‘new’ characters
+ Magneto’s Arc
– Rubbish villain
– Sophie Turner
– Does very little to expand the trilogy