‘You can fire your arrows from the Tower of Babel, but you can never strike god…’
Somewhere in between Die Hard 4 and the execrable Die Hard 5, king of the geeks Kevin Smith was asked if he would sit through another Die Hard film after his fall out with Bruce Willis. Smith said he that he would always watch any incarnation of Die Hard because he loves the character of John McClane and that alone would make watching them worth while. I sometimes feel this way about the MCU and DC movies and to a larger extent, X-Men movies. I enjoyed Days of Future Past at the time, but on reflection I think some of the time travel elements were both convoluted and forced and that film also confirmed that the time has come for the franchise to stop relying so heavily on Wolverine.
Apocalypse was a chance then, to breath new life into the project, what with the absence of Wolverine and with it being the supposed conclusion of a three film story arc that began with First Class back in 2011. Series veteran and long time director Bryan Singer endures mixed success with the latest X-Men movie however.
Firstly, the titular villain Apocalypse is both generic and forgettable, suffering from the same problem as Ed Norton‘s Hulk in as much as a brilliant actor (Oscar Isaac in this case) is wasted by being hidden behind CGI and a different voice. Secondly, there are just too many characters to remember in the X-Men franchise now, to the point where the first 45 minutes are spent reintroducing the characters. This unfortunately includes an origin story for Scott Summers (Cyclops) who has always been the most dull X-Man and this makes an already bloated running time unnecessarily longer . Lastly, Bryan Singer has attempted to follow the crowd with a darker, more grown up take on the mutant franchise but that style has never been a good fit for the X-Men, no matter how many f bombs Michael Fassbender drops. Nobody wants to see a return to The Last Stand‘s campy, Vinnie Jones starring borefest but there has to be a happy medium between that and the ultra dark tone of Apocalypse.
All that being said I agree with Kevin Smith’s sentiment about John McClane. I love these characters. While ever they keep making X-Men films, I will keep watching them and aside from all the missteps, Apocalypse still has some great moments and a cast that even the Avengers franchise must look upon with envy. If this is to be the last X-Men film featuring Fassbender, McAvoy, Hoult et al, then it feels like a disappointing end to what has been a strong run however.
Along with Sam Raimi, Bryan Singer is probably most responsible for the comic book renaissance, but the jewel in the crown of this franchise continues to be X-Men: First Class, one of the only X-Men films that Singer didn’t direct. If the X-Men films are going to continue to be successful (and there is yet another stand alone Wolverine film on the horizon) then maybe it is time for a fresh face behind the camera.