I went into this movie with some trepidation after it got a pretty lukewarm response (and, occasionally, a downright hostile one). I found a seriously flawed movie that wasn’t exactly terrible, merely average in a lot of ways. I’m going to go on at some length here because there’s a lot worth talking about.
First, there are some things here that really don’t work in the film. I didn’t have the problem with Oscar Isaac’s Apocalypse that a lot of people did, but he’s not as compelling as he could be and, unfortunately, he comes off as a second rate Ultron. Of his horsemen, there’s a big issue there as well. The fact that he required four characters sets the movie up for failure by overstuffing the villainous side of things. Psylocke is essentially a non-entity and Storm isn’t much better, especially when she’s given a whiplash character change in the final act that didn’t really make sense (not that her allegiance to Apocalypse made sense in the first place). The film does better at establishing Angel’s character, but after a really ill-conceived and laughable transformation scene, he has nothing to do but stand and glower. I also felt the overstuffing on the heroic side of things. I’m a fan of Tye Sheridan, but I thought Havoc, Cyclops and Jean Grey should have been left out of the film. The film is over-filled with characters and I found all that stuff to be unnecessary. Just flat out leaving them out of the film would have allowed more time to be given to the characters that I actually cared about. But they don’t have that time, so the most fascinating aspect of these films, the relationship triangle of Charles, Erik and Raven, got shifted to the back burner. I thought all three of those characters were under-written, something the film kind of acknowledged by attempting to add depth to some scenes via copious flashbacks to the scenes in the previous films that actually were well-written. And can I just call a moratorium on climaxes that involve the “psychic plane” or whatever? Those never ******* work and the example here of Charles and Apocalypse facing off was just painfully bad.
Some stuff worked though. The performances are obviously top notch among the main players, except maybe Jennifer Lawrence who seems to basically be over it. Kodi Smit-McPhee absolutely nailed Nightcrawler; Kurt’s been a favorite character of mine and I kind of hated that he never reappeared after X2 (and he’s a big reason that movie is as great as it is) and I thought the performance of the character here was dead perfect. And, again, let’s just say it: cut whatever you have to cut to give us more time with Quicksilver who is both a compelling character and a fantastic opening for some great, mind-blowing sequences. The Sweet Dreams Are Made of This scene was really the only thing that reached the level of the previous two films in this trilogy. Though it seemed odd to me that they set up the whole thing about Erik’s family and then didn’t use the obvious set-up with Quicksilver to turn him back to the good side again. It was a very odd instance of a movie setting up a third act emotional climax perfectly and then just . . . not doing it. I’m sure they plan to do it later, but the climax of this movie is where it belongs from a character and plot point of view. Nicolas Hoult is once again really good as Beast and he makes the relationship with Raven feel real, not forced. I liked the way Weapon X got worked into the story, though I’m not sure why he was essentially in a storage closet and I also didn’t care for his Electro-esque black shorts.
At the end of the day, I guess it’s just painfully over-crowded in an effort to introduce a metric ton of new characters, but that leads to a disheartening lack of time spent with, you know, the characters we actually care about. But for all that, it’s entertaining enough as what it is. The thing about the previous two films in this trilogy is that they’ve been nothing short of brilliant and this one is quite a bit short of that (though it’s certainly no Last Stand). But it’s a diverting film that, despite its epic running time, never feels long. As entertainment, it’s fine, not a disaster, but it stops short at that benchmark, rather than, as this franchise has at its best, pushing on through into being a genuinely interesting and compelling piece of art. 3 stars.
tl;dr – entertaining enough, but over-crowded, with little time spent on the character development that made the first two films genuinely fascinating; very flawed, but diverting. 3 stars.