What The Critics Are Saying About X-Men: Apocalypse

The early articles are in, and it already looks like many of the nation's critics are decidedly lukewarm on X-Men: Apocalypse, the first installment in the franchise since 2014's Days of Future Past. Just how bad are the reviews? Let's dive in.

USA Today

Brian Truitt of USA Today's sums up his response to the movie with his opening line, writing that "The latest in the X-Men movie franchise is just X-meh." Truitt goes on to criticize the movie's "lackluster story," which he feels included "too many characters and not enough nuance or freshness." "The movie is scattered in whether it wants to focus on the old kids like Xavier and Mystique, or go all-in with the rookie class ... Even at two and a half hours, there's not enough screen time for the jam-packed ensemble."

Entertainment Weekly

Giving the film a "C" grade, Chris Nashawaty of Entertainment Weekly writes that, with Apocalypse, the X-Men franchise takes "a giant step backwards" from the quality of First Class and Days of Future Past. "Apocalypse feels like a confused, kitchen-sink mess with a half dozen too many characters, a villain who amounts to a big blue nothing, and a narrative that's so choppy and poorly cut together that it feels like you're watching a flipbook instead of a movie," he argues.

While Nashawaty eventually claims Apocalypse isn't "all bad," he takes particular issue with the film's "uninteresting" titular villain, as well as director Bryan Singer's constant cutting from one subplot to another. In doing so, Nashawaty argues that Singer "seems hellbent on preventing the audience from getting involved with any one storyline or character." "[Apocalypse] is a movie with way too much of everything except the things that should matter the most—novelty, creativity, and fun," he concludes.


Variety's Geoff Berkshire comes down especially hard on Apocalypse, claiming the movie suffers from an "exhausting case of been-there-done-that-itis" that cares more about visual effects than storytelling. "From the opening prologue, set in the Nile Valley circa 3600 BC, it's clear that Singer aims to take audiences on an eye-popping roller-coaster ride, though in doing so, he leaves behind any pretense of coherent storytelling or character development," Berkshire writes.

Like other critics, Berkshire criticizes Apocalypse for throwing in too many characters and subplots, to the point where it becomes "easy to forget even McAvoy or Fassbender when they're off screen for too long." "Perhaps he should've quit while he was ahead," Berkshire writes of Singer. "This is easily the least compelling, surprising and satisfying of Singer's entries." Yowch.

Hollywood Reporter

We're starting to notice a theme here. Writing for The Hollywood Reporter, critic Todd McCarthy argues that "more is less" in Apocalypse, which he compares to the likes of a "bumper-car nightmare" that has too many characters and not enough plot. "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 ... undeniably builds to a cataclysmic dramatic reckoning," he writes. "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." In other words: that's a really, really, really bad review.

Chicago Tribune

In the case of good (Civil War) vs. bad (Batman v Superman) superhero movies this summer, Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune thinks Apocalypse will go down as being "the OK one." Still, that doesn't stop him from referring to the movie as "boringly apocalyptic." "I can't recommend much about this latest "X-Men" picture without getting into problematic and somewhat embarrassing territory," he writes.

He continues: "This one's no gem. It's simply large, and long (two-and-a-half hours, the usual length lately with these products) ... I've seen worse this year. And better."

The Wrap

Alonso Duralde of The Wrap adds yet another "thanks, but no thanks" review to Apocalypse's tally. "What once soared now slogs," writes Duralde, comparing Apocalypse to Singer's previous two X-Men movies. Calling the movie "overstuffed," "utter dullness" and "a shocking letdown," Duralde seems particularly annoyed by Apocalypse himself, played by The Force Awakens' Oscar Isaac. "He's generically evil, setting out essentially to destroy everyone and everything on the planet, a plan that's not only difficult to take seriously but also gives screenwriter Simon Kinberg no metaphorical meat. ... You'll find more genuine stakes in The Angry Birds Movie."

New York Daily News

But wait! Don't be too sad, X-Men fans, because some critics actually liked the movie. Take Edward Douglas of The New York Daily News, who offered up a four-star review. "With his fourth movie, X-Men: Apocalypse, director Bryan Singer proves he's still as good as Professor X at handling Marvel's mutants," Douglas writes, completely contradicting many of his peers.

In fact, Douglas seems to find a positive in what many critics consider flaws, including the film's abundance of characters and jump-happy plot. "After 16 years working with the characters, it's obvious Singer knows them well enough to mix and match from different eras of the comics and still make it work as a cohesive story," he writes. "The relationships between the characters also transition well from the comic page even with so many new actors in the roles."

At the end of his review, Douglas alludes to the fact that, yeah, there's a lot going on in this movie. "At times, it feels like Singer is trying to fit as much as humanly possible into this movie, just in case it's his last," he writes. But, in the end, he claims Singer knows what he's doing behind the camera. "By the time it gets to the climactic showdown against Apocalypse, it's obvious what an unstoppable force he is, and everything leading up to that point does pay off."