Superhero movies are too predictable. Oh. I don't mean in terms of the films themselves (although formula masquerading as subversion and spoilerific marketing campaigns have certainly helped there), but more in how the quality of each film feels almost pre-determined by a higher power; Deadpool was a juvenile, fun ride, Batman V Superman was a mess and Captain America: Civil War was spectacular. Not all expectations were spot on - the movie I thought would be good was better, the one bad, worse - and it's in neither explicitly a good or bad thing, but for the most point 2016's midterm report almost felt pre-written.
So I guess that's one thing to congratulate X-Men: Apocalypse for, because, in the words of a Quicksilver we may have all been a bit too harsh on, you didn't see this coming.
Yup, it's bad; Apocalypse is an astounding waste of potential that could feasibly kill the franchise, worse than all the Ivan Ooze criticisms and trailer apathy combined. To get the obligatory rival comparisons out of the way (disclaimer: nobody other than WhatCulture has paid me for this review), its failures highlights many of Captain America: Civil War's successes, especially in the character department (although I will concede Fox is a tad unlucky following so closely on the heels of Marvel), but doesn't quite boil the blood like Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice did.
In fact, contrary to the anger I felt against the cheers in that press screening, my emotion leaving this movie was one of sadness. During the punishingly long final action sequence, there was one particular beat with massive contextual weight so mishandled that it took all my brewing anger at the film's plot illogicies and dearth of characterisation and flipped it; after that point, mutants clashed and fireworks sparked, but I just sat waiting for whole thing to be over. I was genuinely upset that the franchise I'd grown up on and had led us to this current superhero Mecca (c'mon, nobody cared about Blade), one which has pulled itself back from the brink once already, had again sunk so low.
The Last Stand and Origins: Wolverine are still worse entries in the series, so there's that, but there's just so little to cling onto here. Over the course of two post-viewing pints, me and another writer tried repeatedly to come up with a single thing we unconditionally liked without having to insert a massive but. We failed.
Quicksilver's show-stopping scene is well-handled, but it's too much of a show-stopper, with the out-of-nowhere sequence grinding the plot to a halt. Wolverine's cameo is vaguely gratifying, but takes far too long to establish and offers little worth beyond giving those wanting to see a not-totally-in-shape Hugh Jackman run around squee. There's an admirable attempt at peppering the whole thing with humour, but these Marvel-inspired beats jar with everything else that's going on and rarely raise a laugh. The cinematography is creative, the camera swooping and twisting around the characters, but theres no distinct purpose to it beyond showing off.
Above all, there's a pervasive sense of camp running right from the Egyptian set-opening and historical opening credits through to the bright team-up finale that feels totally fitting of a comic book series that rose to prominence in the seventies, but it's repeatedly undermined by an ever-present seriousness.