Are people ready yet to admit that the X-Men movies aren’t very good? There is no reason in a year in which people accepted Captain America and the f*cking Vision in the same film for an X-Men movie to look as drab and boring as X-Men: Apocalypse looks. Sixteen years and nine movies into the franchise, and nothing has f*cking changed in the world of the X-Men, despite a decades-spanning storyline. This movie is so bland it’s almost spiteful.
Jumping off from f*cking nowhere because even when they share timelines these movies have no-f*cking-thing to do with one another, X-Men: Apocalypse is set in the 1980s, mostly for the bitching music cues and occasional pastel jacket. The “young” X-Men cast—never mind that in their own established timeline most of these characters would now be in their fifties—from First Class return, headed up by James McAvoy as Professor X, Michael Fassbender as Magneto, and Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique. They are joined by some new young’uns, most notably Sophie Turner as young Jean Grey, Alexandra Shipp as young Storm, and Olivia Munn as a horrible disappointment I don’t want to talk about. Also Oscar Isaac stars as the villain, a giant purple dildo.
The story is paper thin and breaks down about halfway through because Bryan Singer & Co. have never ever figured out how to balance these ensembles, but it goes something like this: Ten years has passed since the last film and nothing of note has happened to anyone. Magneto is living in the woods with a new family, everything else is the same for everyone else. The only compelling part of Apocalypse is the early stuff with Magneto and his family. If the entire movie had been from his POV, maybe we would have been onto something. But instead we hopscotch around, meeting new mutants we are given absolutely no reason to give a sh*t about—a consistent problem in X-movies—and Jennifer Lawrence is around, looking horribly bored.
I have heard stories about Lawrence being distracted on set between takes—by her phone, by conversation, by food. But when “action” is called, she switches on and delivers incredible performances, so people just roll with her inattention between takes because she’s so enormously talented she can just flip it on and off like that. Watching her in Apocalypse, though, is like seeing her in those moments between takes—distracted, bored, wanting to go home. I swear in one scene it looks like she’s reading a text message mid-line delivery.
But it’s not just her. EVERYONE gives a bad performance in Apocalypse. Most are just victims of having absolutely f*cking NOTHING to work with, but even Fassbender, who gets the “best” writing—keeping in mind that “best” is relative and this movie is dog sh*t—can’t overcome the appalling script. Regardless of how good the actor is, the minute you have a character yelling, “Is this what you want from me?” at the sky, it’s over. That’s almost as bad as the part where Oscar Isaac, encased in a latex tube, touches a TV and whispers that he’s “learrrrrrrnnnnning”.
Everything about this movie makes me angry but nothing makes me madder than squandering charming actors playing fun characters. A#1 is Evan Peters as Quicksilver—once again the best part of the movie. Everyone will think Apocalypse is a good movie but what they really mean is that the Quicksilver scenes are f*cking boss. Everything around those scenes actually blows diarrhea chunks, but man, those Quicksilver bits really are fun. And Alexandra Shipp shows some promise as Storm, but unfortunately she barely gets a chance to showcase her personality. Ditto for Sophie Turner, who NEVER gets to show her personality as Jean Grey.
But the worst are Olivia Munn and, painfully—sorry Lainey!—Oscar Isaac, who gives a hellacious performance as Apocalypse. I don’t know what I was thinking, expecting Olivia Munn to be good in a movie. She’s f*cking awful and it seems her scenes were structured to deliberately work around how bad she is. She’s barely in the movie, she speaks even less, and half the time she is on camera, she looks confused. And Isaac, bless his heart, is trying, but he’s saddled with a godawful character design and ninety pounds of bad makeup, and next-level embarrassing writing. At least we’ll always have Poe.
Superhero Face Punch is hot garbage, but it’s hot garbage because of a director’s specific vision. It’s not a vision anyone likes or particularly wants, but at least it’s a vision. Apocalypse is hot garbage because no one had an idea for it beyond “We gotta crank another one of these out before Marvel reclaims the rights”. It’s time to get a new creative team—Bryan Singer doesn’t have an interesting take on these characters, and he seems totally indifferent to making actually good movies from the X-Men. Someone please save the X-Men before they ruin the Dark Phoenix saga. Again.
PS The James McAvoy Snots Everywhere In Every Movie Streak: Still alive! One instance of cry-snotting, one instance of blood-snotting.
Attached - James McAvoy promoting X-Men on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert last week.