Instead of writing a full review for the new X-Men: Apocalypse I thought I’d do something a little different. Instead I decided to rank all the films as I see them in terms of quality. I’ll be up front I love the X-Men movies, even more so then the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so I am clearly coming from the position of a fan. That being said if you are reading this you are also likely a fan so that is not a huge issue.
Note this is a SPOILER FREE post when it comes to Apocalypse so if you haven’t seen it please read on. When all is said and done you’ll likely have a clear understanding of where I stand on the film and the franchise as a whole.
This movie is an abomination. The less that is said about it the better everyone will be for it. The story was nonsensical at best and cringe worthy at worse. While Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine is the one highlight of the film the rest of the cast was as lack luster as they come Liev Schreiber’s Sabertooth being one of the worst offenders.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine was a failure on all levels to which everyone agrees. Critics trashed the film for all the above reasons and fans hated it for an even bigger reason; they took away the Merc with a Mouth’s bloody MOUTH! Really the only debate surrounding the film to this day is which is worse this or...
It is really amazing Brett Ratner didn’t manage to go full Joel Schumacher and kill the franchise dead - or at least put it into a decade long coma. However it was close as a critical, fan, and box office failure The Last Stand still remains a favorite punching bag of movie goers and critics alike.
Adapting some of the most interesting material from the series lore, such as the Mutant Cure and the Phoenix Saga should have been enough to make any movie watchable. Instead it only goes to show even with a great source if the talents of the adapter are found wanting the adaption will fail too.
In the end the fact that Bryan Singer came home to the franchise, for the sole purpose of retconning the film out of existence, seems to show how little love for this film there is even internally. The fans were certainly not upset either, walking out of Days of Future Past knowing these events were reduced to nothing but memories in Logan’s mind. The Last Stand and Origins were without any doubt the series lowest point.
To be honest this was a hard one to place. As the movie has done so much for super hero movies and as such is profoundly influential. It’s influence stemming from the fact it was quite literally the first modern super hero/comic movie. It showed super hero movies could be grounded and realistic, while still being exciting as opposed to the more surreal approach Tim Burton took to his critically acclaimed Batman movies.
That said, re-watching the film now the movie hasn’t aged as well as some of it’s contemporaries such as the original Raimi Spider Man. It’s still good and leagues better then the film its above but it feels almost hollow. I expect showing somebody a super hero movie for the first time they will love this film, however as a fan the franchise does have more to offer. X-Men showed super hero movies can be good, it will just be a little longer before they could show off how truly great they can be.
Right now I could put this above or below the original movie and the next film on this ranking, depending on my mood and how I think about each film. They’re all really close in quality. What I mean by this is all the reviews saying Apocalypse is the series own apocalypse is as over blown as the Mayan 2012 Prophecy.
Apocalypse has its flaws, it can feel bloated at times; with the film trying to do too much with it’s run time, and some performances seem phoned in. Furthermore a seasoned movie viewer can see certain plot points coming a mile away, especially those involving beloved frenemy/antihero Michael Fassbender’s Magneto. That being said while it is flawed it is a lot of fun and it will keep your attention and not let go until the end. The fast pace especially helps with this as even at two hours and twenty minutes the movie never really lingers in the way Batman vs. Superman did earlier in the summer.
Is the film the best from Bryan Singer, nah, no way. However it’s a solid entry into this franchise and I’d easily encourage you all to go see it - especially if your a fan of X-Men films.
This movies placement on this list is a product of my personal biases as a fan of Japan and anime - Wolverine fighting samurai and ninja’s was just a lot of fun to watch. As the least connected film to the rest of the franchise it’s actually a really good adventure with Logan and his one-off allies for the film. As the character tries to find a reason to live again following the events of The Last Stand.
I can’t think there is much to say about this movie other then it is leagues better then its predecessor. As a stand alone film it holds up pretty well and tells a fun if by the numbers story of love, redemption, and Logan doing the one thing he does well. Plus Wolverine vs. Ninja’s and Samurai how is that not awesome?!?
At the time of its release nobody really knew what to think of this because of how radically it changed the established backstories of the characters. However now with two direct sequels under it’s belt it was clear from an artistic standpoint the soft reboot of the franchise was a good one. Not only did it bring in amazing up and coming actors in Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, and a personal favorite of mine James McAvoy. It also gave these great actors interesting things to do and say.
In short it’s a damn good movie. Set in the past the 1960's vibe was really quite an entertaining change of pace and was done surprisingly well. The only thing that really keeps it from being considered one of the best movies in the franchise is the film really didn’t know what it wanted to be or potentially what it was allowed to be. For all the events of the film it seemed so much more small scale then anything we’ve seen previously from the franchise.
It was a personal film about the characters interactions which pays massive dividends in its sequels. However it can feel empty in parts, it was a good appetizer for what is to come. However as a stand alone film it could use a bit more meat on the bone, the exact opposite problem Apocalypse had. Considering though it came out of the wreckage wrought by X-Men: Origins I think as fans we did okay.
I’ll say this here much like the three in the middle the top three are all amazing films and anyone of them could easily be considered the best. Moving on though I said the original X-Men showed modern super hero movies could be good, X2 showed they could be great. There is just something about this movie that works on almost every level.
Perfectly paced the film flows like water from scene to scene, set piece to set piece, the viewer never once feels like the movie lingers. However at the same time its not too crowded as many films on this list haven fallen pray too. As despite its multitude of characters everyone gets a fair amount of screen time and character development. It remains one of the benchmarks for what a comic book movie can and should try to be, which is why it’s so impressive we still have two films left to go.
“Hey guys it’s me Deadpool, top of the lis... wait what?!? I’m f***ing SECOND, what kind of jack ass is writing this piece of s*** list. Seriously no talent hack writing a ranking list, why because reviewing a damn film is too hard for him. Screw this I’m out of here, Cable must need me to do something... can’t afford me anyways my film made a mint, I’m a star.”
Deadpool is funny, it’s bloody, at times kind of touching, all while being totally juvenile and crude. How the film manages to balance all of these things simultaneously is a testament to both Ryan Reynolds and Tim Millers skills as a creative team. Perfectly understanding the character and what made him tick, Deadpool shows what a hard R super hero movie can and should be despite how little faith the studio had in it.
Of course Hollywood being Hollywood won’t get any of that and think audiences just want dick and fart jokes, with a lot of blood and gore. That being said at least we finally have the Merc with the Mouth who actually you know... has a mouth...
Lets see what Days of Future Past had to be for this franchise to continue: a sequel to both First Class and the original films, a conclusion to those films as well as a reboot to the franchise to get rid of its more rotten limbs... to say this was a tall order is an understatement and surprisingly Bryan Singer pulls it off with aplomb. He even navigated the murky water of time travel which has sunk many a screenplay.
All that being said the film is everything a great film needs to be. It was well acted, well directed, well paced, well written, and had a clear direction of what is wanted to do and be. Technically it worked on almost every level with a bar so high it’s no wonder Apocalypse seemed to fail in comparison.
At the end of the day I feel it’s the best X-Men film to be made and it’s be hard to top. However as I said above the top three is very fluid which each having very strong claims to the throne and really it is such a subjective opinion I can see many arguments. I hope you enjoyed reading my thoughts on one of my favorite franchises and please leave your thoughts in the comments.
PS: Be respectful of those who have yet to see Apocalypse but wish too and keep it a spoiler free zone.
You’re reading TAY, Kotaku’s community-run blog. TAY is written by and for Kotaku readers like you. We write about games, art, culture and everything in between. Want to write with us? Check out our tutorial here and join in. Follow us on Twitter@KoTAYku and Like Us on Facebook.