Coming off the success of both 2000’s X-Men and 2003’s X2, the X-Men franchise looked poised to reign atop the cinematic superhero landscape for years to come. Then of course came 2006’s Brett Ratner-directed entry The Last Stand, which sharply divided both critics and audiences. This was followed by 2009’s even more poorly received X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Thankfully, the X-Men got a needed shot in the arm via 2011’s First Class and 2013’s The Wolverine continued this positive trend, with the franchise’s arguable apex coming with Singer’s 2014 hit Days of Future Past. Naturally, X-Men: Apocalypse carries with it a lot of expectations for similar greatness.
Unfortunately, the first batch of reviews are now in, and the overall sentiment appears to lean downward. One of the main critiques being levied against the film is that it tries to cram too many characters and too much plot into a single film. In addition, Apocalypse is also getting knocked for its over-reliance on CGI spectacle over more substantive storytelling. Below is a roundup of several reviews of X-Men: Apocalypse:
The Wrap — Alonso Duralde
“With “X-Men: Apocalypse,” however, Singer seems to have acquired a new mutant power of his own: monotony. Whether it’s the lack of an interesting villain, or the fact that the series’ time-travel element is forcing these mutants to meet each other (and the audience) all over again for the first time, this latest entry marks a shocking letdown from Singer’s earlier contributions; what once soared now slogs.”
Variety — Geoff Berkshire
“Professor X’s school isn’t the only thing that blows up in the ruination-happy “Apocalypse,” but the storytelling never ignites. Apocalypse remains a one-note villain throughout, despite Isaac’s best efforts to imbue the godlike foe with authoritative menace underneath mountains of prosthetic makeup (whatever new fans the exceptional actor gained from “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” will hardly recognize him here).”
THR — Todd McCarthy
“Narratively jumbled and jammed with so many characters that you give up keeping them all straight while simultaneously lamenting not seeing more of those you might actually want around, Bryan Singer’s fourth entry in the enormously profitable series he inaugurated 16 years ago undeniably builds to a cataclysmic dramatic reckoning. But mostly it just feels like a bloated if ambitious attempt to shuffle as many mutants and specially gifted characters as possible into a story of a resurrected god ready to take over the world.”
EW — Chris Nashawaty
“But all in all, Apocalypse is a third-tier X-Men movie that arrives at a time when studios and filmmakers who traffic in spandex need to be at the top of their game. We know all of the clichés and all of the tropes too well at this point to settle for place-holding mediocrity. We know the difference between an instant classic and a dog. Apocalypse isn’t quite a dog. But it is a movie with way too much of everything except the things that should matter the most—novelty, creativity, and fun.”
The Guardian — Peter Bradshaw
“The idea of an apocalypse means every dial has to be turned up to 11 and this film certainly provides bangs for your buck, although there is less space for the surreal strangeness of the X-Men to breathe, less dialogue interest, and they do not have the looser, wittier joy of the Avengers. But the more playful episodes with Cyclops and Quicksilver are welcome and everything hangs together. But in the future X-Men films have to mutate into something with fewer characters and more characterization.”
Empire Online — Helen O’hara
“Compared to the energetic, bold Days Of Future Past, it all seems so leaden. How many times can Professor Xavier remind us that there is good in Magneto — by now a mass-murderer several times over — before one of them pulls a lightsaber? How many overly familiar exhortations to heroism can Mystique really deliver and expect to be taken seriously? And did they need to replay entire scenes we’ve seen multiple times before? …The more the film harks back to other X-instalments, the more you’ll wish you were watching those instead.”
CBR — Kristy Puchko
“Ultimately, “X-Men: Apocalypse” is a massive disappointment, being boring and repetitive where it should be thrilling and imaginative. However, it does set up some stakes and some new heroes that could bring me back for more. That is if the recipe is right.”
Latino Review — Tyler Richardson
“This film is leagues above DOFP in terms of story, character development, visuals, AND there is some amount of closure. The most exciting part of X-men: Apocalypse is that now we have wrapped up the origin stories and we have our key players back.”
IGN — Daniel Krupa
“As a conclusion to a trilogy, Apocalypse falls somewhat short. It marginalises key relationships in favour of establishing new ones, and lacks the depth and distinctive historical flavour of its immediate predecessors. But taken as the next chapter in the series, Apocalypse is an undeniably fun and entertaining adventure and does a pretty good job of establishing Xavier’s next class.”
With a Rotten Tomatoes score — as of this writing — of 43%, it’s clear that X-Men: Apocalypse won’t measure up to its recent predecessors with critics. That said, it’s doubtful that critical sentiment will stop this latest chapter in the storied X-Men franchise from earning truckloads of money. After all, Batman V Superman got even worse reviews, and managed to do will at the box office. Has Bryan Singer truly made a misstep with the series he helped bring to the screen, or are the critics simply way off base? The world finds out later this month.
X-Men: Apocalypse will open in U.S. theaters on May 27, 2016, followed by Wolverine 3 on March 3, 2017, and unannounced X-Men films on October 6, 2017 (possibly Gambit), January 12, 2018 (possibly Deadpool 2), and July 13, 2018. The New Mutants is also in development.