If Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice taught us anything, it’s that there is a massive disconnect between film critics and fans when it comes to superhero movies and similar fantasy genres. In fact, critics might just be useless. The movie was panned by nearly every critic who reviewed it, and it went on to pull in more than $870 million at the box office. What’s more, there’s 40% discrepancy between the film’s critical rating and its fan rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Fast forward to today, and there’s a new big-budget fantasy movie hitting theaters that has also been completely torn apart by critics. Did they get it right this time around or is X-Men: Apocalypse destined to break records just like Batman v Superman did?
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First off, let’s just run through some of the headlines from this second round of X-Men reviews (the first round ran earlier this month):
Apocalypse is the worst X-Men film yet — BBC
‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ Review: Mutants in a Muddle — WSJ
All-out action makes ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ hollow, unfocused mess — Star Tribune
X-Men Apocalypse review: The end is … sigh — Polygon
Review: X-Men: Apocalypse is a step back for the X-Men franchise — Vox
If that doesn’t set a tone, we’re not sure what will. Now, let’s take a look at some of the critics’ gripes (SPOILER ALERT):
It’s the kind of film which makes you feel sorry for the many, many actors it squeezes in. Jennifer Lawrence, as the increasingly Katniss Everdeen-like Mystique, is glum from start to finish, but Oscar Isaac has a right to be even gloomier. Weighed down by prosthetic make-up and rubber armour, he looks as if he couldn’t decide between dressing up as Star Wars’ Emperor and Doctor Who’s Davros, so he put on both costumes at once.
There is a lot of this nonsense to endure before you get to the inevitable fight between Team Apocalypse and Team Xavier, and when you do, it’s hardly worth the wait. The characters do some jumping and flying, while looking suspiciously as if they are hanging from digitally-erased wires. Some of those characters switch allegiance at the last minute, just as their counterparts did in Avengers: Age of Ultron. The clouds of computer-generated dust keep swirling. And, ultimately, the fight is won not by the team which is bravest or most cunning, but the one which has the deadliest powers at its disposal. It’s not the most edifying of messages.
Enormous goings on keep going on, and on, in “X-Men: Apocalypse,” a collection of explosions, eruptions and conflagrations that suggests the implosion of a franchise.
It’s hard to know whether to welcome “X-Men: Apocalypse” with melancholic disappointment or testy annoyance.
This time the story is action all the way. There are a dozen sequences where the camera tumbles down some rabbit hole of doom, or looks on while immense boulders crush casualties. They feel like visual diagrams of the movie’s collapse. It’s big in scope and scale and tiny in originality. Using the new term “drop” for a movie’s release was invented for tailspin declines like this.
It’s the end of the world as we know it (and I feel bored)
A big, dumb superhero movie can — and should — be a lot of fun when done right.
X-Men Apocalypse, for as big and dumb as it is, isn’t much fun at all. Instead, the mutants’ latest outing undercuts its occasional hints of heart and humor with an excessive runtime, self-serious story and, yes, a lot of big dumbness.
Apocalypse, the titular villain in X-Men: Apocalypse, has a funny tic.
Every time he uses one of his superpowers — he’s acquired many over the years — he lets loose a low moan. The sound is like the last few seconds of an aggressively mediocre orgasm or the first few seconds of a trip to the toilet. And it’s uncannily fitting that it’s the same sound I made when Apocalypse, the third film in the rebooted X-Men franchise, ended.
Here are a few more reviews that we didn’t mention above:
If you’ve seen one cinematic apocalypse, you’ve seen them all. At least that’s the feeling conjured by “X-Men: Apocalypse,” the latest entry in one of the more reliable comic-book franchises around, this time disappointingly succumbing to an exhausting case of been-there-done-that-itis.
Read Variety’s review here.
New York Times
But for every lively moment, there’s a reminder that the franchise is tiring. The genre’s emphasis on potential mass death is obsessive and unimaginative. At one point in “Apocalypse,” El Sabah Nur takes Magneto on a visit to Auschwitz, where Mr. Singer placed that character’s back story in “X-Men” (2000), the first film in the series. This narrative element seemed in extremely questionable taste at the time, although Mr. Singer presented it in a way that could also be seen as laudably ambitious. In this movie, the use of Auschwitz feels utterly cavalier.
Read NYT’s review here.
Apocalypse includes everything you’d want in an X-Men movie, including two of the best superhero set-pieces ever. But after Days Of Future Past, it feels a tad underwhelming, and even a little tired.
Read Cinemablend’s full review here.
Is that enough to scare viewers away from this latest installment in the X-Men Franchise? X-Men: Apocalypse premiere today, so we’ll soon find out.