One can never prepare for the Apocalypse. It just happens. After stopping Bolivar Trask and his sentinel program by way of time travel, the X-Men live in a world where they may not completely be accepted, but they are tolerated. The year is 1983, and Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) still leads his school for the gifted. Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) freelances for a living as a mercenary, and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) has found new meaning in a quiet life with family.
Mutants, especially those with the strength and skill of Xavier, Mystique, and Magneto, are easily the most powerful beings on the planet. But unknown to everyone, they aren’t the first of their kind. In the pyramids of Egypt, an ancient one, En Sabah Nur (Oscar Issac) rises from his centuries-long slumber. He is the world’s first mutant, with power no one can come close to matching. He doesn’t like what society has evolved into, and takes it upon himself, with help from some chosen mutants, to cleanse it. This is the end of the world as the world knows it.
Yours truly seemed to be one of the few that had a little more disappointment with Days of Future Past than most. I blame X-Men, not necessarily superhero, fatigue. It’s crazy to think that the X-Men movies have been around for over 15 years, and now, they return with X-Men: Apocalypse. High or low, expectations are a hell of a thing to go into a movie with, and thanks to my indifference to DoFP and a 49% RottenTomatoes rating as of this writing for the latest in the series, my expectations for Apocalypse couldn’t be more grounded. Which is probably why I had a solid time, all things considered.
McAvoy or Stewart? Days of Future Past’s time-traveling storyline was kind of confusing. For better or worse, longtime series director Bryan Singer’s story is much more straighforward this time around. Conventional may be the word thrown around, and it is valid. Yet, it is interesting that in a year of superheroes battling essentially due to ideologies, the one comic book series that has used ideology consistently over its franchise length to pit main characters against each other is sort of absent here. It does appear, but it isn’t a main cog of the story like it has been in prior installments. In an odd way, I found that “refreshing” in an X-Men movie.
Singer’s never really disappointed from a visual aspect in his X-Men movies. He doesn’t disappoint in Apocalypse, either. It’s obviously more CGI-reliant more than some of its other comic-book counterparts due to its characters’ otherworldly powers, but a treat to behold. Those (read: everyone) who liked Quicksilver and his scene in the previous feature will be excited to know that he’s a more prominent character this go-round, with an equally impressive, if not exceeding, sequence to boot.
In X-Men: Apocalypse, Singer has given the series its first pure villain in Apocalypse, played by Oscar Issac, to much of the Internet’s distaste. Not distaste in Issac, but the baddie’s appearance and motivation. From a sheer aesthetic standpoint, yours truly believes Apocalypse is menacing, the epitome of pure evil with his look and distorted voice. It’s where the other part disappoints; En Sabah Nur’s reason for wrecking havoc is taken out of the Villainy 101 textbook: Because he can and wants to rule the world. What he plans on doing with it, no one knows. He’s dangerous and one wants to see him get defeated, but the question is, why cast Issac for a fairly shallow role that anyone could have played?
The rest of the cast features some reoccurring standouts and some empty space. James McAvoy might be a better Professor X than Stewart at this point, with more character. Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, and Evan Peters are solid lynchpins, with the latter being the most memorable out of the three here. “New” X-Men in Jean Gray, Cyclops, and Nightcrawler are in good future hands with Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, and Kodi Smit-McPhee, respectively. But the scene stealer is still Michael Fassbender, always impressive in any scene he’s in. Sadly, the Four Horseman sans Magneto are duds. Until the final fight, they are more or less relegated to standing idly behind or next to Apocalypse with nary a word said. Easily forgettable.
The third film always seems to be the worst out of a trilogy to the majority audience. But X-Men: Apocalypse is still the tried and true X-Men, just more conventional and less complex. It’s not the end of the world, or this franchise.
Photo credits go to screenrant.com and comicbookmovie.com.
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