Many accredit the original X-Men film for kickstarting the age of big-screen superhero adventures which we’re currently soaking up, showing that an ensemble superhero movie could work when done right. Bryan Singer, who directed the original, is back for the biggest and most ambitious X-Men movie to date, but is X-Men: Apocalypse a worthy successor to the fantastic Days of Future Past?
Set in the 1980s and picking up 10 years after the events of Days of Future Past, the film sees mutants and humans in somewhat of an uneasy alliance, simply co-existing amicably with tensions at an all time high. Nothing that a little disaster couldn’t help with, right? Enter Apocalypse (played by The Force Awakens‘ Oscar Isaac), the world’s first and most powerful mutant, who awakens from a thousand year-long slumber to cleanse the world of its impurities – basically everything. The remnants of the X-Men along with some new mutants have to band together in an attempt to stop the supervillain from bring about the end of the world.
From a plot point of view, everything you want is there: high stakes, a detestable villain and a gallery of familiar and new characters to the X-Men universe. While it introduces a bunch of new faces at an alarming rate (with some new mutants not even speaking a word the entire film), Apocalypse doesn’t fall into the trap of diluting its cast and manages to do a good job at keeping the pace enjoyable and light by using the core actors as an anchor. Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy are once again brilliant, providing the heart and soul of the movie, with Fassbender particularly adding a lot of gravity to the role with some sombre moments. Fassbender and McAvoy’s calibre often highlights the shortcomings of other actors, but its nothing that detracts you from the experience.
Tye Sheridan and Sophie Turner (playing a young Cyclops and Jean Grey respectively) are some of the new additions, along with Kodi Smith-McFee as an enjoyably naive Nightcrawler. However, the best scenes still fall on the shoulders of Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique, Fassbender’s Magneto, and Evan Peters’ Quicksilver, who once again steals the show with a hilarious, ingenious and enjoyable slow-motion scene.
Oscar Isaac as Apocalypse is a satisfying villain, although he doesn’t ever seem to reach the potential menace of all his threats, ending up being just a catalyst for the end of the world rather than an opponent the X-Men take head-on.
Of course, the action that is there is highly-entertaining, with some white-knuckle set-pieces and showdowns. That said, there are the occasional moments where an overuse of green-screen or some cheesy CG character inserts juxtapose the high production values.
Even with these shortcomings, X-Men: Apocalypse is a hugely entertaining film full of nods to longtime X-Men fans and enough context for newcomers to enjoy. It’s not the best in the series, but a successful step forward in the greater film franchise.
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