Review: Bryan Singer's 'X-Men: Apocalypse' is a Scattered & Stale Mess

May 27, 2016

X-Men: Apocalypse

16 years and 8 films have passed since the beginning of the X-Men series. It's hard to believe director Bryan Singer is still trying his hand in this particular cinematic universe, but the X-Men series has created something of a wheelhouse for the filmmaker who has left and returned to it. You'd think his voice would be ever-present even in offshoots like The Wolverine and Deadpool. Alas, X-Men: Apocalypse, the latest entry helmed by Singer, is a mess, a hodgepodge of generic ideas, paint-by-numbers action, and a continuity that will leave anyone who has followed along with the previous 8 films slapping themselves in the forehead. Singer can't even pull convincing performances out of the staggering cast built up throughout the franchise, and X-Men: Apocalypse quickly proves itself to be a stale and blasé entry into this once-promising series.

It doesn't help that aspects like setting add to the film's convoluted nature. In Apocalypse, the X-MCU finds itself in 1983. It's been 10 years since mutants were outed to the public, 20 years after Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) pieced his initial team of mutants together, and a few thousand years since the imprisonment of the eponymous mutant who some consider to be the first mutant in existence. Apocalypse or En Sabah Nur (Oscar Isaac) is an ancient being who can transfer his consciousness into anyone, human or mutant, and take on their respective powers. He wishes to remake the world in his own, perfect image. In order to remake the world, you naturally have to destroy the present one, and, after awakening from his slumber, this is exactly what Apocalypse sets out to do. Of course, in the 1983 X-MCU there are any number of individuals with mutant abilities to either face off against the would-be ruler or join him in his quest for dominance. Commence boatloads of computer generated shit flying around all four corners of the screen.

It really is a very simple premise at work in X-Men: Apocalypse, one that certainly doesn't justify the film's 144-minute runtime. That isn't stopping Singer and screenwriter Simon Kinberg from jamming all 144 of those minutes with as much build-up, exposition, and development as they can without a care in the world if any of it is easy to follow or even makes sense in the already established world (remember - 8 other films before this). A number of aspects in X-Men: Apocalypse are either repetitive or flat out contradictory to the franchise's continuity. It's almost as if the people behind this latest film had never seen any of the previous films let alone been the driving force behind most of them.

X-Men: Apocalypse

They take their time moving all the mutant pieces around this particular chess board, the film's tone seeming to shift course with each, passing scene. Before he's recruited by Apocalypse, Magneto (Michael Fassbender) is living a peaceful existence with a wife and daughter. Before she takes up arms against Apocalypse alongside Professor X, Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) is traveling through Europe uncovering various mutants who are hiding there. The main players are given full-fledged backstories to catch us up on the 10 years that have taken place since Days of Future Past, not that any of it matters in the long run. They all encounter the inevitable conflict, even tragedy, that sets them in motion for the final battle, but, once again, everything runs an obvious course and plays out in incredibly predictable fashion.

As with the output by Singer & Kinberg, most of the actors are going through the motions of their respective character, Fassbender and Lawrence looking downright bored for much of the film. McAvoy seems slightly more interested in what he's doing with Professor X this time around but only slightly. Nicholas Hoult as Beast and Rose Byrne as Moira Mactaggert reprise their respective roles with minimal excitement. As far as the returning players go, only Evan Peters stands out, but that probably has something to do with how ridiculous - and ridiculously fun - his turn as Quicksilver is this go-around. We could always hope for a Quicksilver stand-alone movie (eventually), but you know as well as I how those projects usually end up.

X-Men: Apocalypse boasts a massive amount of new mutants added to the mix, but few of them barely register a blip on the radar. Olivia Munn gives an apathetic performance as Psylocke. The same can be said for Alexandra Shipp as Storm and Tye Sheridan as Cyclops. Sophie Turner takes on the role of young Jean Grey, and the actress dominates in every scene in which she appears, not that that's a difficult challenge to take on here. Here's hoping she has more of a role to take on in the next film. Unfortunately, Oscar Isaac as the films eponymous villain is drowned out by the gallons of makeup he has plastered on his face and around his head. He's such a gifted actor, but Singer seems content letting Apocalypse be the typical villain in a typical superhero story who gives long-winded speeches that amount to very little. Based on the knowledge of what he could have brought to this particular table, it's even more of a crime that Apocalypse ends up being one of the weakest villains the world of comic book movies has ever seen.

It's not as if the X-Men franchise has passed a point of no return with this latest entry. It isn't even the worst film of this particular franchise, thanks very much, X-Men Origins: Wolverine. This series of films has had its fair share of ups and downs alike, but X-Men: Apocalypse seems to be the point where those behind these films have hit their point of fatigue. It's an action-heavy entry, one that can't seem to go five minutes without blowing something up or causing some kind of cataclysmic event. A sense of indifference seems to have set in, though, one that is felt in every scene and every performance in the film. With the next entry already in the works - and already established with X-Men: Apocalypse's obligatory, post-credits scene - that apathy isn't stopping the franchise from continuing to expand. We can only hope the next film brings back the enthusiasm and focus that once made the X-Men franchise worthwhile.

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Reader Feedback - 60 Comments


This saddens me. Other than X2 none of the x men films have amazed me. But this one looked to be epic, if just a little generic.

Jon Odishaw on May 27, 2016


we're in "apocalypse fatigue " , movie-wise ... not that CB storylines didn't semi-regularly threaten the destruction of Earth , but Hollywood-wise it's getting played out already . Civil War works better mostly because it's so personal , to most of the characters . THEIR worlds crash down around them , not THE World . ...and the scuttlebutt is that the next movie is a re-imagining of Dark Phoenix .. so that will be World-threatening as well ... Sophie's not getting negative feedback from reviews that I saw DOFP was much better than X2 . esp when u get the Rogue Cut , and realize it was Magneto / Iceman having to get Rogue and bring her to Kitty , that tipped the Sentinels off to their location . I would say the Pacing and personality struggles of " First Class " , are better than X2's ...You can trace these Marvel movies becoming better , in general , to First Class .

Dominic on May 31, 2016


Imagine 16 years ago, thinking about how many super hero movies there are now. It's kind of a shame they can't make a great X-Men one.

Carpola on May 27, 2016


... you know, besides the last movie.

Wes Draven on May 27, 2016


It wasn't too bad the last one, often I think they put too many characters in and it gets a bit crowded. I still watch them, I take as much as I can get because I'm old enough to remember when superhero films were B-Movies.

Carpola on May 28, 2016


Good but overrated if you ask me. Same with first class. We saw in kings men how great Vaughn can direct action but in first class it was bland.

Jon Odishaw on May 28, 2016


Not a single great X-men film, or a really good one

Have Hope on May 28, 2016


It was predictable. I was disappointed by every picture/teaser/trailer I've seen. Question to Alex: Is there any meaning to this purple color he spread all over the movie ? I hope so,,,

tarek on May 27, 2016


That should be seen, not scene. 🙂

Barret on May 27, 2016


Great! Another airplane passing time movie. Love em when on a 10 hour flight. 🙂

Sascha Dikiciyan on May 27, 2016


Olivia Munn is a talent-less zilch that has somehow gotten by through convincing people around she has talent and is attractive.

DAVIDPD on May 27, 2016


Same with Megan Fox. And Jessica Alba.

grimjob on May 27, 2016


She was good in The Newsroom.

Efterklang on May 28, 2016


Amazing. She only gets roles for her looks. I thought this is about acting talent? She's trash, but I guess other hardworking actresses don't get a look in because of not having the "looks"

Have Hope on May 28, 2016


and you're a POS

DonP on May 28, 2016


Oh sorry, did I hurt the feelings of your girlfriend?

Have Hope on May 28, 2016


you can't pierce our feelings, you lame-o. you don't even compare.

DonP on May 28, 2016


and you are a lame, lazy dweeb picking on a hottie like Munn... i hope you get your little dingdong bit by a snake in a toilet somewhere in Thailand.

DonP on May 28, 2016


I am glad she still has fans.

DAVIDPD on May 28, 2016


And you have none

DonP on May 28, 2016


Yeah...that much is true.

DAVIDPD on May 29, 2016


im your fan

Have Hope on May 30, 2016


The Newsroom. Maybe its because Aaron Sorkin's writing is just that great, but she was great in that show along side an ensemble of great performers.

NamelessTed on Jun 2, 2016


I took my son and his mate to watch it. I had read some stuff online about how it didn't shape up. So I went in apprehensive and then enjoyed the hell out of it. Actually one of the better super hero movies I’ve seen in a while. I think what’s happened here is some reviewers have read an original negative review somewhere and then gone in expecting negativity and are then too scared to buck the negative “trend”. I watch a lot of movies both deep and shallow and this one is fun, entertaining and very watchable. Go see it for yourself and avoid the Internet stuff about it, because the Internet is doing what it does best – giving people their opinions.

Michael on May 27, 2016


This would be : X men: Civil War Part 2. Part 1 would be from the beginning of the comics: The Brotherhood v X men. Russo brother don't call a family quarrel a Civil War.

PARANAM on May 28, 2016


Spot on with the review. It was tedious, predictable and boring. Given how little they used Oscar's talent, I don't know why they didn't use a much much taller actor to play Apocalypse to at least generate some physical threat if nothing else. During the build up to the final battle all I could think of was that I'd been watching for 90 mins and wasn't engaged or excited about what was to come. It was just a pure nonsensical mess.

Payne by name on May 28, 2016


It made total sense. You have zero idea what the word "nonsensical" means. Check a dictionary before you try to sound smart next time or you''ll just end up looking like a slack-jawed dumbass yet again, moron.

DanielShaw on May 28, 2016


How did I know it was a review by you Jeremy, critics need taken out and shot, you single handedly force your opinions on others, destroying films before they even get a chance, get a proper job you twat, in fact you all need to and leave others to enjoy the films and form their own ideas!

Beard2bfeared on May 28, 2016


They forced you to come here and read his review?

OfficialJab on May 28, 2016


Kill em! Kill em aaaaalllllllllllll. No critics ever.

Carpola on May 30, 2016


That first paragraph alone is utter bullshit and just flat out incorrect. The movie wasn't Civil War good, but it was plenty of fun with a surprising amount of character growth, and the performances were good, especially Fassbender (well, obviously). Are you a total idiot? Or did you not even watch the movie and you're a total mindless shill being paid to things because it's "cool"? My god this website has really gone down the shitter. Stop hating on things just because they're fun, you brainless hack.

DanielShaw on May 28, 2016


Are you really insulting the reviewer for his opinion? Brainless hack? Siskel and Ebert hated plenty of movies I loved. Does that make them brainless? No. All depends where you set your own bar. Personally, mine is too high hence the constant bitching and moaning. I dont think the reviewer goes intentionally into any movie to hate it. No one does.

Sascha Dikiciyan on May 28, 2016


Did you work on the film or something? The film was ok, but it didn't do the characters - apocalypse in particular - much justice. He's such an epic badass in the comics and cartoon, and to see him knocked off without costing any X-Men much more than a broken leg and lost hair was a bit of a let down.

Dotpols on Jun 13, 2016


It was good, just not great. Sexy superhero costumes are great, but hopefully whoever designed Munn's outfit never works in wardrobe again. Gag me. To reduce my opinion to a headline, "Fassbender to the rescue as usual".

OfficialJab on May 28, 2016


Next superhero sexy suit will be a super thong.

tarek on May 28, 2016


As long as it sort of looks cool and suits the actress, if they can, fine with me. Whatever they made for Psylocke was ugly and I think claims that Munn herself is attractive are very debatable.

OfficialJab on May 28, 2016


A transparent super suit then. It will serve the...actress? Not sure about that. What do you think?

tarek on May 28, 2016


I dunno, different things look good on, or suit different actors and characters. I just don't think this one was any good, at least for her.

OfficialJab on May 28, 2016


Let's face it Jab, it was a slut suit. End of the story. They made this suit to draw male audience. They know that we love boobs, thighs and any generous female part.

tarek on May 28, 2016


I'm saying I don't care about 'slut suits', they're fine. That one was just crummy imo.

OfficialJab on May 28, 2016


I dont hear you complaining that Angel was shirtless? Or that Wolvie is half naked constantly!? You sir are sexist!

DonP on May 28, 2016


I confess. I love boobs. Let me ask you a question: Do girls have a hard on when they see a shirtless man ? I can't tell, I'm not a girl. Thanks on advance for your answer.

tarek on May 28, 2016


They get aroused in different ways depending on the man. E.g. Twilight's Pattinson

DonP on May 29, 2016


Her suit and her were so hot. You just have bad taste. Go to hell and stop picking on beautiful women. Jealous hag!

DonP on May 28, 2016


So even if she is a trash actress, as long as she is hot its fine?

Have Hope on May 30, 2016


Where exactly were the continuity issues? The complete 360 that was done in Days Of Future Past basically rewrote x origins and X3 as well as the original film and x2. Everything we know to have happened either did not happen or happened in a different way. Like Mystique -- the original trilogy has her as bad. That is not so in this timeline because of the events of apocalypse, which did NOT happen in the original trilogy's timeline because wolverine hadn't gone back to change hairiest yet. Maybe you were confused about the timeline? There were no major discrepanciesz Go back and watch all of them. It all pretty much adds up and anything that seems shaky can be attributed to the fact that wolverine rewrote history with his actions in DOFP. The only thing that is never explained on screen is how Wolverine gets his metal claws back after wolverine 2 and before DOFP. But one can assume Magneto helped with that. I enjoyed the film, not more than DOFP, but still a fun ride.

Jared Passante on May 28, 2016


There's a few continuity issues I can think of off the top of my head - the first being that the "phoenix force" is shown in this same universe as being something quite dark, incredibly destructive and uncontainable once it's been released, and yet in this movie it's essentially treated as a Super Saiyan transformation with a mega kamehameha. This isn't an issue that time lines can affect and it makes no sense in the context of the film or comic universe. Another one is obviously the aging issue - 20 years have passed since first class the only one the have an explanation for with regard to looking so youthful is Mystique. Then of course there's angel - he appears as a young man trying to trim his wings in X-3 and yet he's a full grown man back in 1983 in this universe. The film isn't as terrible as the reviews are making out, but I personally was let down because I was hoping they'd do with Apocalypse something more epic like Marvel is doing with Thanos - because frankly he deserved more.

Dotpols on Jun 13, 2016


Singer is that you? Sorry, but I already know this will be hot trash.

Matthew on May 29, 2016


Thanks for your reply, Beard. I'd let you get it right if you in fact got it right, but you didn't. I'm going to attempt to discuss this with you in a respectful manner, but I fear it's going to be a waste of time as I'm not sure you're being completely honest here. First of all I was not in anyway defending Jeremy. He's a grown man and an intelligent man and I'm quite sure if he thought he needed defending he would be more than capable of doing so himself. You seem to be reacting to my reply to another poster as I didn't question his banning of you. Mr. Shaw was who I was referencing and his 'overblown' and rude criticisms of Jeremy. Who says critics don't like people being critical of their work? Did Jeremy say that? Did I? I suggest you calm down and rid yourself of your emotional reactions and re-read my post to Shaw and to yourself. Myself and another, Official Jab below, both confronted you on your silly accusation towards Jeremy of 'you single handedly force your opinion on others'. Both OfficialJab called you on that nonsense as to just how can any critic, Jeremy included, 'single handedly' (where did you come up with that?) force their work on anyone. You're being less than honest here, Beard, because you haven't even addressed that confrontation. If you had some maturity and courage you might man-up and admit that yea, you were a little off-base on that. It also seems that you either don't recognize the crude and rude and angry posts of Mr. Shaw or you lack the moral integrity to see them as such. You don't address that either. Both my confrontational posts to both you and Shaw had to do with the rude and false absurdities contained within them. Not that you were critical of Jeremy or any other critic. It's the manner in which they are done, Beard. Can you wrap you head around that? You may rest your case as you so feebly attempt to do with a childish sense of humor, but let me tell you, if you were a lawyer you'd lose that case. That being that you yourself seem to be pretty riled up about my confrontations and criticisms of you and your nonsensical case making that Jeremy single handedly forces his opinions on others. Come on, Beard. Are you man enough? Are you intelligent enough? Do you have the courage to see what myself and OfficialJab were confronting you about and admit how irresponsible and incorrect an accusation like that is? Do you? And yes, the pattern of mine you seem to be noticing is my inclination to confront young guys like you with their bullshit and see if they have the guts to listen...and grow...and change to become more mature men then they seem to be now. It's what all us older guys should do as it was done with us and I for one, profited by those confrontations and heard the men who took the time to do so with me. Look, no one, especially me, is trying to put you down and make you lesser. You're falling into the habit of doing that to me and others and all it does is reveal how powerless and ineffective you are. Stop doing it as it only re-enforces and concretizes your insecurities and these attempts to put others down thinking that it make you stronger and better. Learn from this, Beard. I mean you no harm. In fact, just the opposite. Cheers...Peace!

Bo on May 29, 2016


Yea, just what I expected. Sorry to hear this, Beard. Of course you didn't finish reading it...truth is hard to bear. Of course you have better things to make silly and childish physical threats from the safety of your computer...that's really brave and courageous. I don't think you'd be so brave if you can face-to-face with me. This will be my last reply to you...and I don't believe you. I think you won't be able to help yourself and will in fact post to me again. I can smell it! All and all...I tried and your just aren't ready and it saddens me to think you might not ever be. Still lack the courage to admit that claiming someone 'forced' their opinions on you, eh? You poor, poor young lad. Such a victim. Being forced against your will. Can't you see how insane and childish that is? Man oh man oh man. Grow up, dude. an older and wise male I leave you with that suggestion...grow up!

Bo on May 29, 2016


nah...ill skip this

Have Hope on May 30, 2016


spoilers and ranting......I think if you know what is supposed to happen this movie is no good. still I was heavily entertained with what I was looking at-the visuals were so much better than previous movies. Graphic too. I'm very happy with that. What I am not happy with is there is little acknowledgement of source material except wolverine (in this movie anyway) which is the fav of singer so go figure. Yes some things cannot be done because the universe is too vast and the rights are all split. like civil war is so much less without the xmen which was an integral part of the storyline in the comics but I liked the civil war movie because it wasn't rushed it spanned over so many movies intentionally (key word) while x-men always seems like it should be done entirely. Also they do try to explain the discrepencies between the universes in interviews and video commentary and I actually realy apprechiate that. I'm even impressed a bit with how they made it work I didn't think it would be worth anything, its way more soundproof than expected. There are some details that should just not be tampered with like how storm got white hair (its natural and they never give her blue eyes)...and rogue's from the first movie even(which made more sense than storm actually, like why the hell didn't every body's hair change?) and are mystique and nightcrawler not related anymore because thats just.... I can deal with change, a lot of books I read are made into movies I know the deal but xmen just seems so disrespectful. I always feel offended. The people I have noticed around me (people in my life) that loved this movie have not read comics, read very little, or think xmen evolution is the original cartoon or just think of it as fanfiction which is what I try to do. I'm happy I guess that theyre even making x-men movies. Thats the bottom line. I'm very happy I don't watch movie trailers anymore because I saw one after the fact and I would have been far less entertained as so many things were revealed and I was not expecting a lot that I saw.

Barbara Ruiz on Jun 7, 2016


I agree. The hair changing thing was a dumb move. Wouldn't people think its odd that night crawler looks exactly like mystique? I sure wish Marvel could take these characters back, but they would do a reboot which I'm not even sure I have the energy for. lol

timnimbus on Jun 12, 2016


I liked some part of this movie. I liked Magneto's story and the relationship him and Charles have. I didn't like the look they gave apocalypse or his story. Apocalypse was supposed to be alive this whole time having a hand in a lot of our worst history wars, plagues, people, etc.. They didn't give him any character development. Why not show him through time trying to save humanity and then realizing no matter what he does it turns to shit! The only way to make a better world is to start over. He can't just do this by himself, but have humanity tear it down for him. The one thing I loved about apocalypse besides being invincible is that he manipulates people into doing his bidding. This is a sad movie....people will always see it for what it could of been. How can you have an apocalypse movie without cable?? Swing and a miss Mr. Singer!! X2 was your best! Pass this to someone who has love for the source material. Am I wrong?

timnimbus on Jun 12, 2016


Sadly I very much agree with this. I was really really hoping this movie would be good, but as soon as they said it was just 1 film I had worries... Apocalypse is such a force of nature in the old show; so overwhelming and menacing that Charles and Eric put aside their differences to fight him. Sure, in the cartoon he was a bit ridiculous at times, but he's the sort of villain that should be extremely traumatic and challenging, but with this film he was just another "villain of the week" just barely better than the likes of Ultron. Personally, what I'd have liked to have seen was this split into three films, with the first focusing primarily on Apocalypse himself and his survival with his darwinian tribe that forms the foundation of his philosophy, the betrayals he suffers and the conquests and vengence that slowly see his power grow and his empathy stripped away as he grows increasingly disgusted with humanity. The film would end with his being encased for several thousand years, with the second being his arrival in the new world, but the difference would be he'd be very very successful - it'd be like Empire; he'd literally wipe out governments and show no distinction between human and mutant and restart the sentinel program as his own private army (like the cartoon). Throughout the film, many X-Men would perish - even some beloved ones as he built his new empire, and it would have ended with them reeling and attempting to regroup, with even Magnito's group shattered and splintered (he wouldn't have been a horseman). Then the third film would focus on how they defeated him, and it would have taken everything they had, with a tonne of collaboration with humans as well as it became clear Apocalypse had little love for either human or mutant if they were "weak". Ultimately it would take everything and then the unleashing of the phoenix force to defeat him, but that would come at a massive cost in itself - with Xavier and the others realising at the end that by trying to tap into the phoenix force they'd unleashed something they didn't understand or know how to control. Anyway, that's more what I was hoping for...

Dotpols on Jun 13, 2016


I totally agree! It feels like Singer was rushed and didn't even try. Because they ruined one of the best villains of all time, I really don't even care where the series takes off from here. I think I will just stick to the cartoon series for a good version of it. The sad thing is, as much as I want Marvel to have the rights again, I don't think I have the energy for a reboot of the series. Maybe a big budget tv series?

timnimbus on Jun 14, 2016


Yeah, I'm very much the same... given the way the X-Men sag works though, I'd actually prefer it become a high quality TV show like Game of Thrones and go to HBO or Netflix. If they could play out the saga I talked about, if you can't do a series of films, then a TV series would be great.

Dotpols on Jun 14, 2016


Agreed! Probably won't happen until they have a major flop that forces them to make a change though...

timnimbus on Jun 14, 2016


This is silly, but who do you think would win in a fight? Thanos or Apocalypse??

timnimbus on Jun 15, 2016


Spot on review. Went in with high expectations but was kinda disappointed.

Zoey on Jun 16, 2016

Sorry, no commenting is allowed at this time.




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