By now you’ve probably seen X-Men: Apocalypse, the latest installment from the franchise helmed by director Bryan Singer. Everyone’s so excited about all the heroes battling against each other in Civil War that we forget that the X-Men have been doing exactly the same thing since the year 2000 which was when the first X-Men movie came out. It’s been 16 years already since the first one and we are now on our 6th X-Men movie with this latest offering. So kung nagkaanak ka nung lumabas yung unang movie, by now umaattend na siya ng prom at nag-aaral na mag drive. In that span of time nakita mo na rin yung matandang version ni Professor X at Magneto, nakita mong mamatay si Professor X, nakita mong makulong si Magneto tapos nakalaya tapos makulong ulit tapos nakalaya ulit, nakita mong may buhok si Professor X at nakita mong kalbo, nakita mo rin siyang naglalakad at lumpo.
So does the franchise, the one that actually started the whole superhero movie revolution, have anything left to show us? Well, it depends on who you ask. Some people swear by Captain America: Civil War as the greatest superhero movie ever. While there are others who would say that X-Men: Apocalypse is even better than Civil War. So ano ba talaga? Sinong tama sa kanila?
Well first of all, X-Men: Apocalypse is not better than First Class or Days of Future Past. But if you’re from the group that liked this more than Civil War, I understand exactly why you would. But it’s not better than Civil War which I happen to also think is currently the best non-Christopher Nolan superhero movie. So now that that’s out of the way, let’s delve into the movie a little bit more shall we?
X-Men: Apocalypse (which for the sake of brevity we’ll start calling XMA from here on out) begins in ancient Egypt where the first mutant, Apocalypse, comes from. He’s about to transfer his being to the body of a self-healing Egyptian played by Oscar Isaac (currently one of my favorite actors). Habang ginagawa niya yun, inatake siya at ang kanyang “Four Horsemen” ng mga Egyptian soldiers. He succeeds with the transfer with his crew giving up their lives to protect him (squad goals!) but in the process mababaon siya sa lupa for the next 5000 years na wala man lang magazine or Abante Tonite para libangin ang sarili niya. 5000 years later in the year 1984, we find Erik Lehnsherr and Charles Xavier living quiet lives after the events of Days of Future Past. Uring manggagawa na si Magneto sa Poland, si Charles naman legit na professor na sa tinayo niyang School for the Gifted. But their paths will once again cross with the return of Apocalypse who wants to cleanse the world from evil by killing off most of its inhabitants. He has an all new set of horsemen in Storm, Psylocke, Angel, and Magneto to help him do that.
The major difference between XMA and Civil War is that the stakes just seems a lot higher in XMA. Siyempre literal na apocalypse ang usapan e. Civil War, when it comes down to it, is really all about a difference in opinions between the two leaders of the Avengers. Noon yung climactic battles in the Avengers series happened in major cities resulting in a lot of collateral damage. Pero ngayon the major battle takes place in an empty airport in Germany. It works and it’s one of the most fun we’ve had from a superhero movie but you never really feel that it ultimately matters. It’s fun to look at, sure. But at the end of the day alam mong hindi naman sila magpapatayan e. Kaya siguro some people will prefer XMA over Civil War kasi yung conflict between Prof. X and Magneto is legit. And although you know they care deeply for each other, they’re serious when it comes to stopping each other because Magneto is a real villain who will sometimes go too far for his beliefs. But I think Civil War had better pacing and was more polished overall. The fight scenes were also more fun to watch and was better choreographed. There was a cohesiveness to it at hindi basta nagsusuntukan si ganito sa isang lugar tapos 2 meters away yung mga kakampi naman nila yung nag aaway. That’s why as a film, I think it has the edge over XMA.
My usual complaint when it comes to the past X-Men movies is that they seem to be centered around Wolverine and Mystique. For the first three installments of the franchise, Mystique wasn’t that important to the story. Pero ngayon since Jennifer Lawrence, one of the biggest actresses in Hollywood is playing the part, hindi pwedeng bench player lang si Mystique. Si Wolverine naman parang si Jordan Clarkson lang sa Gilas. Magpapakita pero hindi talaga kasama sa laro. XMA introduces (or reintroduces) a lot of new mutants to the story so hindi masyadong nakafocus ang kwento dun sa usual suspects. Of course Prof. X, Magneto, and Mystique will get their fair share of screen time pero this time around there was room to showcase other characters. Which can also be a disadvantage sometimes kasi sa dami ng gusto mong ipakita, hindi nagiging malalim yung pag tackle mo dun sa mga characters. That’s what makes First Class so great because it was able to focus on Charles and Erik and their friendship which is very central to the X-Men lore.
Take Storm for example. Apocalypse picks her off from the street, promises her powers beyond her wildest dreams, and all of a sudden willing na si Storm na sirain ang buong mundo? Dahil lang kinulayan ni Apocalypse yung buhok niya ng libre tsaka binigyan siya ng bagong damit? She’s probably had a hard life kaya nga siya naging magnanakaw pero medyo extreme diba? Mas understandable si Angel na kita natin na inaabuso at tinatrato na parang manok na panabong. It’s hard to imagine na he’s living a normal life diba? So kung ako si Angel, malamang kukunin ko talaga yang alok ni Apocalypse na libreng gupit tsaka bagong damit. Very important yung Four Horsemen sa kwento and it would have been nice to know a little bit more about them. Pero mahirap ipakita yun in a span of 2 hours and 27 minutes.
But you can’t have everything right? If you want more mutants you have to make a few sacrifices. James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, and Jennifer Lawrence will almost always deliver and they did so once again although they don’t particularly stand out. Same goes for Oscar Isaac as Apocalypse. I guess the actress that will benefit most from this movie is Sophie Turner who plays Sansa Stark. If you watch Game of Thrones, you already know who she is. This is her first major role outside of the series and she puts in an admirable performance as Jean Grey.
If you liked the Quicksilver sequence from Days of Future Past then you probably liked the one they did for XMA. Although ako personally feeling ko they overdid it ng konti. Kumbaga bumenta na yung joke na yun noon e tapos inulit lang nila on a bigger scale. But doesn’t it feel like a cop out though? Kung ganun kabilis si Quicksilver then how do you even beat him? Paano mo pa siya matatamaan ever? E di siya na ang solusyon sa lahat ng problema di ba? And while we’re overthinking, why did it take that long for Professor X to track down Magneto kung wala namang suot na helmet si Magneto? Bakit kailangan na pumatay muna ulit siya ng maraming tao para mahanap siya sa Cerebro? These are the unimportant things that keep me up at night.
X-Men: Apocalypse has received a lukewarm reception which I don’t necessarily understand. Tingin ko okay naman yung movie, siguro hindi lang kasing ganda nung mga nakalipas na dalawang X-Men movies. Critics are hard to impress sometimes. They can find fault in anything if they wanted to. But for audiences, I think it’s just a case of superhero fatigue. Kakanuod lang natin ng BvS tsaka ng Civil War e. XMA just feels like more of the same thing. Let’s see what else the franchise has in store for us in the next installment. Hopefully the X-Men still have a few more tricks up the sleeves of their rubber suits.
7/10. Better than X-Men 1-3 but not better than X-Men 4 and 5. Actually let’s forget X-Men 3 ever happened. Sabi nga ni Jean Grey sa movie, “the third one is always the worst”.
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