Set 10 years after the events of Days Of Future Past, Apocalypse sees Charles Xavier's school for the gifted in full swing, he has given up hopes of X-Men and has settled for students. But when an ancient mutant awakens and threatens the existence of every living thing in this world, Mystique must return and lead the X-Men into battle.
Bryan Singer has returned to the X-Men series for a fourth time and has created a fun, fantastical but unfortunately majorly unsatisfying entry in the series that he started back in 2000. X-Men has lost the realism and social commentary that made it so special back when the films first debuted.
X-Men: Apocalypse provides solid entertainment throughout and serves both as a prequel to the original film and a sequel to both First Class and Days Of Future Past. The film does a wonderful job of introducing several young actors into the series' most iconic roles; Cyclops, Storm and Jean Grey. Tye Sheridan, Sophie Turner and Alexandra Shipp all fit the roles well and it's actually the scenes following the young mutants that are the stand outs. Apocalypse sets up the future of the series well, but when viewed as a sequel to First Class and Days Of Future Past, Apocalypse feels rather hollow, light and lacking in an emotional core.
The preceding movies centered on a wonderful love/hate relationship between Michael Fassbender's Erik Lensherr and James McAvoy's Charles Xavier, the two actors have an obscene amount of chemistry with one another so it's unfortunate that the two barely share a scene together here. They used to act as the film's intellectual and emotional center and that is what Apocalypse is sorely missing. The film tries to balance far too many characters, so much so that fan favorites like Psylocke only get around 5 lines of dialogue. Character relations seem to be put on hold in Apocalypse and Singer has opted for less emotion and more spectacle which all looks a bit cheap, the CGI really isn't up to standard in this film and it clearly needed more time to be finished. There are scenes of cities being ripped apart but it all feels rather distant, we view from afar so it's hard to actually see any tragedy in the destruction. Bryan Singer has never been a director primarily known for his great action scenes and Apocalypse's do feel pretty stale. The action is rather unexciting, even when Wolverine is ripping his claws through soldiers, it's not all that engaging.
Oscar Isaac plays the film's titular villain; Apocalypse. En Sabah Nur was born thousands of years ago and worshiped as a god in ancient times, after awaking in modern times he is displeased with the world he now lives in. "The weak have taken over" and he sees it as his duty to cleanse the world and start again, so that only the strong will survive. Oscar Isaac is one of my absolute favorite actors working today, he's packed with charisma and has legitimate dramatic talent, so it's unfortunate that here he is caked in makeup and costume, all of which looks rather silly. Many fans scoffed at Apocalypse in the trailers and I can't say the final product in the film looks that much better. His suit is rubbery, his face is puffy and his forehead is always distractingly moist. Isaac is clearly trying but the terrible costume design and character's actual motivation and story let the actor down. Apocalypse should have been the most intimidating and menacing villain in the series yet but he ends up being rather forgettable. The character serves more as a catalyst for our heroes suiting up and becoming X-Men, rather than being the formidable and frightening presence he is in the comics.
Apocalypse spends most of the run time recruiting his four horsemen. He recruits Storm, Psylocke, Angel and Magneto for his cause. He believes in survival of the fittest, he isn't prejudice towards humans, he just believes that only the strongest of mankind should survive. Apocalypse makes each of his horsemen stronger, makes them realize their full potential and gives them some pretty snazzy looking outfits, other than Psylocke who is given a comic book accurate, skimpy suit which looks awfully out of place.
There are a number of great moments, a cameo from Wolverine, scenes with Magneto unleashing his rage and of course, Quicksilver, who yet again steals the show with a slow motion scene that had me smiling from ear to ear. The performances are all solid and most of the characters are great to watch, but the story is lacking and there are far too many scenes that feel rather silly. X-Men isn't what is used to be, it's evolved into a much more spectacle based series that when placed so close to films such as Captain America: Civil War, doesn't stand out. The film's biggest crime perhaps is that it sidelines relationships that we've come to love in favor of new ones.
This is a film worth watching if you're a fan of superhero films and are heavily invested into the X-Men story, it's not the worst in the series, it's just painfully mediocre. It's fun and fantastical but it's really lacking in strong themes, emotion and action that invests the audience. I'm giving X-Men: Apocalypse a 6.5/10.
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