X-men Apocalypse is either the third or the ninth (if you count Deadpool) film in the long running franchise; depending on how you look at it. The original X-men universe, which began 16 years ago) has officially been wiped out and rebuilt thanks to the events of 2014’s Days of Future Past. Apocalypse takes place in 1983 and Xavier’s School for the Gifted is now fully functional. Magneto is the world’s number one fugitive after attacking the President and Mystique is a symbol of hope to humans and mutants alike that there are heroes amongst homo superior.
The future of the tenuous peace between humans and mutants is thrown into upheaval when CIA Agent Moira MacTaggert (back after skipping the events of DoFP) discovers a doomsday cult that worships an ancient being believed to be the first mutant. They awaken him and he begins to build a team of followers by offering them the promise of enhancing their abilities to their fullest.
Moira, still unaware of her past work with Xavier is approached by Professor X when his most prized pupil, Jean Grey, is given a vision of the future in which she sees the end of the world. The team names this new threat Apocalypse and they work to discover his plan and stop him from destroying all of civilization.
There are strong performances from the series’ veterans. James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, and Michael Fassbender are wonderful as Professor X, Mystique and Magneto. Oscar Issac as Apocalypse does what he can with a very traditional (at this point) super villain. He is powerful and a daunting adversary with an intriguing plan… but he’s very old hat at this point. Also, fans have derided his appearance and unfortunately while he is menacing he doesn’t have the right look. He is too entrenched in appearing to come from ancient Egypt. This would have been fine to start but his appearance could have evolved when he awoke in the modern world and unfortunately that did not occur.
Fan favorite Olivia Munn as Psylocke gets a few highlight moments but viewers should prepare for her screen time to be more akin to Gina Carano’s in Deadpool. She’s a presence but not a major character. Agent MacTaggert (Rose Byrne), Beast (Nicholas Hoult) and Quicksilver (Evan Peters) are solid in their returns; all playing major parts in both the emotional and actions sequences.
So the big question… How are the new kids? Cyclops (Tye Sheridan), Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), and Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) all feel right. I know they’re tweaking everyone’s history and the timelines in the films; but they feel correct. Storm (Alexandra Shipp) definitely works but Angel (Ben Hardy)… felt like a lost opportunity. Although it may be a lot to ask for everyone to get the same amount of attention.
The film wants to give major moments everywhere it can, and does. That is both a blessing and a burden. By allowing hero moments for everyone you take away the focus of the story. Literally everyone gets time to shine in a way that films with less characters (Fantastic Four 2015) often fail to do. That said some characters need to just be support for the main characters. When you’re asking whose film is this every few moments it feels like prestige was placed over story. Also, I need to take a moment and tell Fox’s marketing department that they ruined the best cameo in the film in one of their trailers. It was part of an incredible sequence and it would have been nice to have it be a secret. If you managed to get to this moment unspoiled then lucky you.
Out of the three films that began with First Class this film is serviceable. Is it incredible? No. Will it achieve the same acclaim of the previous two films? No. Do I wish they’d talk to director Bryan Singer and make him go back to producing so they can woo back Matthew Vaughn, YES!!! That said its not a bad X-men film just not a great one.
X-men: Apocalypse premieres on May 27th, 2016.
- Mr. Khon