In Egypt, the ancient mutant En Sabah Nur (Oscar Isaacs) awakens and enacts his plan to create a world where only the strongest survive. The X-Men must once again ban together to save the world.
Of all Fox’s Marvel superhero properties past and present, the X-Men franchise has been their most consistent and their longest running as a result. Now nine movies in if you include Deadpool and the two Wolverine films, the X-Men franchise shows no sign of letting up. Some would argue that X-Men: Days of Future Past was the best in the series yet. Can X-Men: Apocalypse keep the train running? Yes. Yes it can.
First, I like to mention that in terms of the franchise’s timeline, this was the perfect time to do the Apocalypse story. In the comics, the Age of Apocalypse event occurred after a character named Legion goes back in time and changes the past. This caused Apocalypse to show himself earlier than he originally did. What happened in Days of Future Past? Time travel and history changing. Whether or not this was intentional or Fox simply felt it was time to introduce one of the X-Men’s biggest villains, it worked out well for comic book nerds such as myself.
One of the highlights of Days of Future Past was Quicksilver’s super-speed scene. Naturally, he got a similar scene in this film, and it is just as great. This film has him running through the school, saving the students from an explosion while listening to Eurythmic’s “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).” Quicksilver also has a much bigger role this time around, which is fantastic since he was very underutilized in the last film.
Like all of the X-Men films not named after Wolverine or Deadpool, Apocalypse introduces several new characters, or at least new versions of them. The First Class trilogy is inching closer to where the original X-Men film kicked off, so we are meeting younger versions of many of those characters. Cyclops, Jean Grey, and Storm all get younger selves, as well as a younger Nightcrawler. I especially liked seeing Nightcrawler again since he is my favorite X-Man. In a film with many subplots, it seemed like theirs received a significant portion. Hopefully the next one will be more tightly focused and look at this new team and their dynamic as they grow together.
These new actors do pretty well, especially the new X-Men. Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, and Kodi Smit-McPhee bring these characters to life. Turner gets one of the best line of the films, saying third installments are always the worst. The new mutants who serve as three of Apocalypse’s four horseman don’t fare so well. Ben Hardy, Alexandra Shipp, and Olivia Munn’s characters pretty much just get names and that is about as far as their development goes go. With so many introductions, some development was bound to be pushed to the side and in this case it fell on the new villains. It’s too bad that most of the young actors weren’t given much room to show what they could do.
Something that bothered my probably more than it should have was the physical appearance of the characters who have been around since First Class. Apocalypse takes place roughly twenty years after First Class and characters like Beast (Nicholas Hoult), Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), and Magneto (Michael Fassbender), looks exactly the same. In First Class, they are roughly in their early twenties, that would make Beast and Mystique forty-ish, and Xavier and Magneto even older, in Apocalypse and yet they look exactly the same. I know it shouldn’t be that big of a deal but it did take me out of the film a little bit.
X-Men: Apocalypse contains many different plots throughout the film. This is mostly due to the large roster. As a result, the first half feels like it drags on because of all the character introductions. Once all the players are on the board, it moves along more evenly.
Oscar Isaac is a pretty well rounded actor but he felt stuck in the confines of the role of Apocalypse. Like most of the actors of the other new mutants introduced, he wasn’t given the room he needed. It reminded me of Eddie Redmayne in Jupiter Ascending. Both are great actors who just had the unfortunate luck of being trapped in a one-dimensional character. Jennifer Lawrence doesn’t seem as emotionally invested in Mystique like she was in First Class or even Days of Future Past. I’m not sure if she is getting tired of the role or if she was having an off movie or what but she felt off this time.
I thought X-Men: Apocalypse was GOOD :-). The more I was writing this review, the more I realize I had less positives to say than I originally realized. However, you can call me a sucker for explosions and summer blockbusters because I still had a good time watching this film. This isn’t on the same level as First Class or X2, but it still offers a fun ride for you to sit back, relax and munch on some popcorn.
Cast & Crew
Bryan Singer – Director / Story
Simon Kinberg – Screenplay / Story
Michael Dougherty – Story
Dan Harris – Story
John Ottman – Composer
James McAvoy – Professor Charles Xavier
Michael Fassbender – Erik Lehnsherr / Magneto
Jennifer Lawrence – Raven / Mystique
Micholas Hoult – Hank McCoy / Beast
Sophie Turner – Jean Grey
Tye Sheridan – Scott Summers / Cyclopes
Kodi Smit-McPhee – Kurt Wagner / Nightcrawler
Evan Peters – Peter Maximoff / Quicksilver
Lucas Till – Alex Summers / Havok
Oscar Isaac – En Sabah Nur / Apocalypse
Ben Hardy – Angel
Alexandra Shipp – Ororo Munroe / Storm
Olivia Munn – Psylocke
Rose Byrne – Moira Mactaggert
Lana Condor – Jubilee
Josh Helman – Col. William Styker