X-Men Apocalypse is not the worst film featuring gifted mutants, but far from the best. Have we finally reached the point where all superhero films just blend into one?
It’s fitting that Bryan Singer is at the helm of this sixth instalment in the X-Men franchise, having started it all in 2000 when superhero films were a rarity.
In a time before the DC/Marvel war began and when it was possible to release a film that was less than 90 minutes long, X-Men felt like something new and fresh. The characters didn’t need to “team up”, that was already the concept behind the series.
It’s probably why the solo spin-off films featuring Wolverine have failed so badly, we actually like seeing this group together. This time around, the action begins with an ancient mutant by the name of Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) being buried beneath the sands of Cairo before his plans for global destruction can be completed.
Jumping forward to a 1980’s setting in the Days of Future Past time line, Magneto (Michael Fassbender) is now living a quiet life with a wife and child in Poland, hiding his powers. Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) continues to run his school for the gifted and his latest student is Scott Summers (Tye Sheridan) who is being guided by his brother Alex.
Meanwhile Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) is seen as a hero amongst the mutant community and continues to help others whenever she can. She rescues Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) and Angel (Ben Hardy) who are being forced to fight to the death.
When Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne) uncovers the tomb of Apocalypse and accidentally unleashes his wrath, she finds help from Charles who senses a great danger. The ancient mutant needs to recruit four others to join him, with Storm (Alexandra Shipp) and Psylocke (Olivia Munn) soon teaming up with Magneto and Angel.
The X-Men are forced into action, aided by Quicksilver (Evan Peters), Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) and Beast (Nicholas Hoult) and are led into the battle by Mystique. If that strikes you as a bizarre line-up, then that’s because it is. Newbies rubbing shoulders with veterans, even if it feels very odd calling 25-year-old Jennifer Lawrence a ‘veteran’.
Despite teases of further films in the series, X-Men Apocalypse feels like the end of the story and almost certainly the last we’ll see of certain actors in the franchise. Lawrence not only feels like she is done with the blue paint needed for Mystique but the writers also struggle for her to serve any real purpose in the film.
Oscar Isaac is also wasted here. He is covered in make-up and his voice is changed to the point that Joe Bloggs off the street could do the role. The characters quest to recruit Four Horsemen to join him seem laboured and merely serve to introduce new characters such as Storm and Psylocke.
Of the other newcomers, Tye Sheridan is excellent as Scott Summers. The young actor first made a name for himself in Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life and was also excellent in Mud opposite Matthew McConaughey. He’s soon to star in Ready Player One and we find ourselves cheering him on more than anyone else here.
Michael Fassbender has some moving scenes when he is drawn out of hiding, but these are all too brief. He soon returns to his metal-bending ways and gets lost in the mix.
In Days of Future Past, Quicksilver was lauded by many for having the best sequence in the film. If you liked that, then you’ll love what Evan Peter’s does here, but if you felt that the powers the character displayed massively undermined everyone else then get ready for that feeling again. Technically they probably are the best sequences in the film, but logically you just keep asking yourself why Quicksilver doesn’t just save the day, every day?
Other CG effects look rather tacky in comparison, with some early scenes coming across as unfinished in places.
And you know, if Moira had just minded her own business at the start of the film none of this would have actually happened. Perhaps she was too busy trying to avoid Xavier’s attempts at cyber-stalking? The professor does confess to using his Cerebro machine to ‘check-up’ on his old flame on a couple of occasions. It was probably on a lonely Friday night after a few too many and on an anniversary of some sort. Not that we’ve ever done that sort of thing. Obviously.
There’s a line in the film about how the third film in any trilogy is always the worst one. It might be a sly dig aimed at The Last Stand, but its is also sadly prophetic about Apocalypse.