X-Men: Apocalypse (12)
Directed by: Bryan Singer
Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence and Oscar Isaac
Running time: 2hrs 24mins
Opening in Egypt, 3600 B.C. an all powerful mutant known as En Sabah Nur rules over the people. With the help of his four mutant followers he transfers his consciousness from an old, frail body into the body of a young mutant (Isaac) with regenerative capabilities similar to those we’ve seen before. Non-followers attack, collapsing the pyramid in which the ceremony is taking place and killing his followers, but not before one of them places En Sabah Nur into an energy cocoon, protecting him and burying him alive but in stasis.
Millennia later in the 1980s the world is a different place from the one we know. It’s been 10 years since the existence of mutants was revealed to the world in Days Of Future Past and Magneto (Fassbender) lives in Poland under a false name with a wife and child, hiding his abilities.
Mystique (Lawrence) helps troubled mutants out of difficult situations – the latest being teleporter Kurt Wagner, A.K.A. Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-Mcphee) and Professor Charles Xavier (McAvoy) welcomes new mutant Scott Summers (Tye Sheridan) into his school.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, CIA officer Moira MacTaggart (Rose Byrne) uncovers a cult that have excavated the ruins of En Sabah Nur’s pyramid, and when they inadvertently wake him, Xavier is made aware that something terrible is coming when his strongest student Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) experiences nightmarish visions of an impending apocalypse…
There have already been reviews released, some of which have been very harsh on the movie, and while it’s not as bad as some of them have made it out to be, X-Men: Apocalypse, while entertaining, is a disappointing and unnecessarily baggy addition to the franchise.
For starters, the movie spends a great deal of time setting up elements, of which there are many, which is a large part of its problem – the movie is cluttered with too many of them. We have the return of familiar characters – Magneto, Professor Xavier, Mystique, Beast et all, but then we also have the re-introduction of younger versions of characters that fans will already know – Cyclops, Jean Grey, and Nightcrawler.
This is the sixth X-Men movie (not counting the Wolverine or Deadpool movies) and while it’s good to include some setup for potential new audiences, too many of them begins to drag the movie down and affect the pace. Of note is the setup of Cyclops’ powers, which director Bryan Singer wanted to include but had to leave out of the original movie, so now he gets to include it.
Not only are there the above mentioned ‘familiar’ main characters that are over-developed, but there are just as many supporting characters that are under-developed and poorly written – Storm, Psylocke, and Angel especially (if you thought the handling of Angel in X-Men: The Last Stand was criminal, you won’t be won over by the character’s treatment here).
The same can be said of their motives, with Magneto’s in particular being clichéd in a couple of sequences before reducing him to a plot device. There is an appearance by another familiar X-Men character, but it’s so forced and unnecessary that it feels self-indulgent like the Cyclops setup, put in either ‘just because the director could’ or the result of a note from the studio put in for the novices to remind them there is another franchise for which to buy tickets.
Then there’s the action aspect. The X-Men movies aren’t flat out action movies, but they usually have their fair share of action contained within.
Due to the large cast of characters and plotting, there’s very little action to get excited about, especially in the first hour. A sequence with the return of Quicksilver feels like a parody of itself rather than having any sense of the delight of the comparable scene in Days Of Future Past, only with the music updated to reflect the change of era. Though it happens during an event that should be tense or threatening, the scene instead places emphasis on humour – and does get the laughs – but immediately afterwards it feels ill advised and again feels like a studio note to ‘do that again’ from DOFP because it was an audience high-point.
Then, when the movie does reach its climactic battle, you realise that it’s as if the movie was afraid to show its cards too early because the showdown at the end, while entertaining, is underwhelmingly anti-climactic – and again, setting up one of the characters’ future storyline.
Ultimately X-Men: Apocalypse ends up a half-cluttered mess of retreads and indulgences because instead of focusing on its own story it tries to be a stepping stone for a further trilogy. Fans will likely view it with an antagonistic eye and maybe won’t hate it, but they won’t love it either.
If fans do decide to see it, there is an extra scene at the very end of the credits which (likely) sets up the intended villain of the next movie.
2 Nerds out of 5