Written by Jacob Chimilar (@sweetlows)
After the massive success of Deadpool earlier in the year, we return to 20th Century Fox's original superhero golden child. This one falls much more in line with X-Men First Class as it does not mix in the original cast at all and introduces a young Scott Summers (Cyclops), Jean Grey and Ororo Munroe (Storm) as well as one or two others. Since this is a superhero movie and a big budget one, the fate of the world is at stake this time from someone literally named Apocalypse. He is an ancient mutant that once ruled in Cairo but was sabotaged in the middle of a body swap/regeneration ritual and sunk into a kind of hypersleep, only to be dug up and awakened when a group of mutant worshippers come across his tomb. He then sets out to reclaim what he lost and rid the world of humans. He is essentially Magneto on steroids.
I am not a big fan of the X-Men franchise, the movies are fine but none of them, aside from the excellent First Class and if you want to include it, Deadpool, have really earned my praise. Instead of fleshing out all characters they often became Wolverine and The X-Men. Not having him in this one opens the door for the superior characters of Professor X and Magneto as well as the rest of the X-men (second class?) to shine.
I'm a bit sad that we've seen as much as Magneto as we have, because I think a Magneto focused movie would be spectacular. Fassbender owns the role and delivers a wonderful performance as always, bringing real weight to Magneto's tortured soul. He was by far the best character and I would love to see someone make (like there were once plans to do) an X-men Origins: Magneto using footage from the past 3 films showing his arc. McAvoy and the rest of the crew are also all par for the course, turning in great performances with Quicksilver once again stealing the show in an excellent slow motion sequence.
Some drawbacks I found was a sort of generic storyline, I wasn't particularly fond of Oscar Isaac as Apocalypse and much of the story that revolved around him I found to be cheesy and not very menacing or believable, the special effects certainly aided in the cheesiness of the film at times, looking very rushed and poorly done. The opening in particular was really bad for a top tier Hollywood movie released in 2016. Dialogue was also pretty lame at times too by not having actions speak louder than words. Additionally Apocalypse lacked the menace that was needed for a good villain. When the movie wasn't focused on his mission, aside from one or two cool bits, It was really enjoyable. I had a lot of fun with the various characters, including the recast X-Men, and the stories they were telling and I feel there was a great X-Men movie in there like First Class that focused more on the team and not get bogged down by the evil plot.
It won't knock your socks off, it lacks the amount of levity the MCU movies are known for but doesn't totally drown in sorrow either. The main cast is excellent save for the new bad guys and we get to see a couple good set pieces and character moments that you'd hope to get in an X-Men movie. It's a bit too long and it juggles too many balls in the beginning leading to a bit of choppiness before finding a rhythm. It's solid entertainment and sets up a cast of characters I look forward to seeing in the next instalment, hopefully one that is lighter and more team focused.