A generally good film stretched too broad by plot and scope.
Well executed but a disappointing follow up to where we last left the X-Men.
Ambitious and sprawling in it's purview, this film suffers from too many elements all vying for a connection while missing the most critical one.
By Tym Stevens
Good is often mistaken for bad when it follows greatness.
This is a generally good film and, seen objectively, good is still good. It's only mistaken for bad in the wake of a great work; X5: Days Of Future Past (2014) had set the bar so high that anything after would seem like an anticlimax. But the pros outweigh any cons in this film.
This happened before. X2 was greatness and X3 was just good, while clearly over-reaching and undercooked. In the second trilogy, X5 was greatness while X6 is stolidly good, with width exceeding depth.
The difference this time is that Bryan Singer -the director who essentially blueprinted how to do modern graphix films right- is still in control here. A big story is kept brisk, everyone gets just enough character beats, the mythos is expanded with ancient history, and fan favorites are reintroduced. Just as the '60s comics X-Men (by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby) hinged into becoming the All-New X-Men of 1975 (by Len Wein and Dave Cockrum), so the new cinematic timeline laces the original '60s X-Men seen in X4 into the next-gen of an early '80s team. The set-up with Magneto is riveting and poignant, Nightcrawler is charming, Storm is finally an African and mohawked, Psylocke is fearsome, and Quicksilver steals the show. It's a fun romp taken on its own merits.
Its main cons are momentum and sprawl, a danger to all sequels. On creative momentum, Singer burned both ends rolling from X5 straight into X6, and the blear can be sensed under all the blaze. Another year of development time would've helped the creators hone better. And there's sprawl (like Dark Knight Rises and Avengers 2 wrestled), when the scope gets so large that connective plot threatens to overwhelm character. Sprawl films tend to turn into spectacle without enough heart; here, Singer struggles with balancing enough character engagement within the scope of Apocalypse's threat. (Like those two films, he wins, but barely.)
And it all hinges on a risky gamble, as a step toward something larger. The central crux of X-Men films has been the schism between Xavier and Magneto; Apocalypse as a central villain crowds this out, to the dilution of each. Quietly though, the film's point is to introduce a vaster threat level than they've ever faced, even as it foreshadows a much worse one to come.