Nobody expected First Class to be good, Days of Future Past maintained a solid story whilst juggling loads of characters and despite the fact that we haven’t had a solid Wolverine film, people are excited for an R-rated full on Old Man Logan movie. All ‘Apocalypse’ had to do was maintain a solid level of quality from the last two prequel films, which should have been a home run for the same writer-director team as DOFP.
Yet, for all it could have been, this second sequel to the prequel, the 8th film in a franchise that no one thought could last this long after ‘The Last Stand’, is a bit of a mess. Not to say that I hated it or disliked it as much as some people, I just thought that it was far too big for its own good and was a mash up of all the series’s highlights to date.
The problem is essentially the size of the story. After the success of DOFP, Apocalypse simply tries too hard to ape its predecessor, going for world ending destruction and a villain who blandly wants to destroy the bad human race for no reason.
The story beats are all so familiar. Apocalypse wants to destroy people because he’s old fashioned and hates our greed and sin and his rise and plan all feel like we’ve seen it all before.
Sadly the familiarity stretches to the good guys, who so often repeat the same things from the first two films. Magneto tries to be good but gets pushed into being bad and Charles tells him that there is still good in him and convinces him to be good. Mystique is again struggling with her own identity, this time being more of a general to the new mutants sort and being pretty dour about it in the process.
The relationship dynamic between the original First Class four (Eric, Charles, Raven and Hank) is unchanging and despite valiant performances from the lot, there is only a sense of being stuck in the same place.
These characters are still engaging and I still like to see them, yet the Film does not serve them justice.
The new mutants are decent. Scott and Jean are fine, Jean getting the big development and the most to do. Nightcrawler is funny, Storm gets some good character beats, Psylocke is unmemorable, as is Angel, and the returning Quicksilver is great but sort of only by default.
His C story, about wrestling with telling Magneto he’s his son, is underdeveloped and emotionally unsatisfying. Yet, the character gets another set piece, like DOFP, but more indulgent and too long, even though I thoroughly enjoyed the music choice and the small moments of comedy within.
This came right after a cool dramatic scene where Apocalypse controls Charles to control Cerebro to tell hundreds of military officers to shoot their nukes into space, with Beethoven in the background and a hefty cameo for Stan Lee.
Yet this comes in a Film that is far too sullen, going for drama instead of the humour that has become a staple of the franchise. Wolverine pops up for his cameo but he doesn’t speak, not even providing a moment of light relief in a Film with few laughs.
I think that the best thing to do was scale down the story and focus on Eric a lot more, making it a more personal and involved Film in the process. This is what Apocalypse clearly wants to be yet it becomes muddied by the gaudiness of its plasticine villain. It goes too big and too preposterous, causing so much carnage that it barely registers.
In the end, it feels all too rushed and oversized, just when it needed to scale back.