X-MEN: APOCALYPSE (2016) Film Review, a movie directed by Bryan Singer, starring James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Rose Byrne, Evan Peters, Tye Sheridan, Sophie Turner, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Lana Candor, Olivia Munn, Alexandra Shipp, and Oscar Isaac.
The X-Men film franchise welcomes it’s newest entry, X-Men: Apocalypse, which is progressively the finale in the prequel trilogy. After the success of X-Men: Days of Future Past, Bryan Singer returns to the director’s chair in what is a strong entry in the series, however it doesn’t match the superiority of his last film in terms of quality and character growth.
The film adapts one of the X-Men’s most prominent villains from the comics, Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac), who is an ancient being referred to as the world’s first mutant. He managed to live a long and immortal life as he sporadically takes over the bodies of other men and also takes their abilities as his own. We are first introduced to him as En Sabah Nur in ancient Egypt, where his people worship him like a God. In the midst of another process of transformation, a few rebels posing as guards attempt to end his life and his followers by burying him to the ground. Luckily, one of his followers manages to preserve his body in order for him to live long enough for a few centuries.
The narrative shifts into the mid-eighties, where a few devotees to En Sabah Nur try to bring forth his resurrection. Witnessed by CIA agent Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne), Apocalypse oversees the world he’s left behind filled with superpowers and war. He realizes that humanity needs to be wiped out in order for the world to start fresh. In order to accomplish this, he recruits three followers – a young Storm (Alexandra Shipp), assassin Psylocke (Olivia Munn), the miserable Angel (Ben Hardy). Apocalypse also requires a fourth horseman, which is where Erik Lensherr/Magneto (Michael Fassbender) comes in, who has been living the simple life in Poland with a wife and daughter hiding out from the rest of the world. His happy family life is short-lived when tragedy strikes after his family is killed by soldiers, sending him down the dark path once again.
With the world in danger once more, Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) must bring together a group of young mutants to stop this threat. We find Xavier, who’s now in a wheelchair, running his school for mutants alongside Hank McCoy/Beast (Nicholas Hoult). We also spot some familiar mutants from the franchise who are in their youth when we meet them, including Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), Nightcrawler (Kodi Smith-McPhee), and Cyclops (Tye Sheridan). We also have Raven/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) come back into the fold to help her fellow mutants in order to find Magneto. Even Peter Maximoff/Quicksilver (Evan Peters) returns to the franchise after we learn his connection with a certain mutant causes him to find Xavier’s school. After the young X-Men fall prey to the military led by Colonel William Stryker (Josh Helman), they receive a little help from a clawed mutant that remains as one of the best highlights of the film.
What takes place is not more than a battle between good and evil as the X-Men face Apocalypse and his horsemen. Apocalypse tries to transfer his mind into Xavier’s body in order to gain his powers and control the minds of every mutant on Earth. The ancient being also tries to bring destruction to both sides of the Cold War while the X-Men attempt to stop his plans. Magneto, as usual, is caught in the middle between helping his friend Xavier in the side of good or succumbing to his revenge against humanity by siding with Apocalypse. It all comes down to this one big battle to save Earth.
Bryan Singer manages to bring in a good storyline that is engaging and fast paced, at least until the final act. The effects are what make the film work as we see some great stunning visuals that helps the narrative to an extent. Singer seems to know how ensemble films like this work where we have to juggle many characters in a story. However, some character development falls short for some of the mutants like Angel and Psylocke who don’t get much screen time until the final battle.
Oscar Isaac has an impressive track record when it comes to playing characters on screen, but this one isn’t his finest work. Playing Apocalypse on screen may be difficult to portray since he’s known for his god-like presence in the comics and the animated series. The film doesn’t display all of his powers, which can be disappointing to fans who are familiar with the villain.
The returning cast continues to amaze audiences with their characters, with Fassbender and Lawrence being some of the best that the film has to offer showing us two conflicted anti-heroes. The younger mutants were well casted, with Sheridan and Smit-McPhee being the best parts of the film. The honor does go to Peters as he puts the hilarious spin on his fast talking character Quicksilver. Peters stand out performance with his speed sequence at the school explosion scene is such a spectacle to watch.
One of the other problems with ‘Apocalypse’ is the setting wasn’t heavily used in the plot. We do get to see a bit of the 80s fashion and the political turmoil that took place in that era, but we don’t see how it’s affecting the mutants much like the previous films. As great as it was to see the battle sequences and the visual effects, the film feels just the same like it’s predecessor and nothing new is being offered to the franchise.
Overall, X-Men: Apocalypse may be one of the better films of the franchise, but it doesn’t live up to the standards of the other films in what is suppose to be the finale of the prequel trilogy. The way the film ends doesn’t feel like an ending to the story that started with First Class, but it’s more of a continuation of it with a side story as the team deals with another evil villain. The latest entry has enough thrills and performances to keep the franchise going while adding a few references into what the future has in store for the X-Men.
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