X-Men: Apocalypse

Between X-Men: First Class, X-Men: Days of Future Past, and the spin-off Deadpool, the mutant superhero franchise is as strong as it’s ever been and seems to have recovered from the disappointments that were The Last Stand and Origins: Wolverine. The storylines have been better and the acting seems to have finally found its rhythm. How then do go bigger than the bringing together of two generations of characters to prevent the extinction of all mutants? With the Apocalypse, of course.


Following the events of Magneto’s assassination attempt on President Nixon during Days of Future Past, confrontations with mutants have been met with an increase in hostility now that the world knows of their existence. CIA Agent Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne), after having her memory wiped by Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) in First Class, has spent her career trying to learn everything she can about mutants. Her investigation leads her to Cairo, Egypt where she discovers a secret cult that has been worshiping En Sabah Nur (Oscar Isaac), the supposed first mutant of the world. It turns out the rumors were true and Moira accidentally helps awaken the powerful mutant from a centuries long slumber. The world has drastically changed from the days of ancient Egypt, but En Sabah Nur’s goal remains the same; purge the world of those not worthy of his vision and build a better world together with his Four Horsemen; Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Angel (Ben Hardy), Psylocke (Olivia Munn), and Magneto (Michael Fassbender).


X-Men: Apocalypse features the same storyline we’ve seen in superhero films time and time again where a powerful villain is trying to destroy the world and only our heroes can band together to stop them. That plot is fine if the characters and their motivations are interesting enough, but Apocalypse unfortunately features neither. Over the millennia, Apocalypse has amassed various mutant powers by transferring his psyche from one body to another, thus allowing him to practically live forever. He’s this god-like being who can convince most mutants that they all should be following him by helping unleash a mutant’s full potential. As powerful as he is, Apocalypse never truly feels threatening. He’s more concerned with giving long-winded speeches or leaving things to his Horsemen than actually getting anything done himself. Oscar Isaac does a good job at delivering these speeches, but I can’t help but feel his talent is being wasted.


The other mutants feel wasted as well. Apocalypse introduces plenty of “new” mutants that will eventually become part of the X-Men team in the future including Cyclops (Tye Sheridan), Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), and Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee). They’re all practically kids at this point, and it’s up to Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) and Beast (Nicholas Hoult) to help manage their powers and convince them to work together as a team. There’s a lot going on in the film, and while it’s flashy it’s also not that memorable. It’s more about just seeing them all use their powers rather than develop their characters.


The only exception is Magneto, who has been in hiding for the past decade and managed to finally settle down for a quiet and normal life with a wife and daughter. His intermittent happiness is quickly taken from him when the locals discover who he really is. Magneto has always had this conflicting dynamic between good and bad, but Apocalypse is the best film depiction of the character so far, and it’s all because of Fassbender’s phenomenal performance. He’s absolutely broken in this film, and you can understand his contempt for everyone and not just non-mutants. Apocalypse offers him revenge, and he gladly accepts it.


X-Men: Apocalypse isn’t a bad film and is far from the worst we’ve seen in the franchise. It’s just not that great of a film, either. There’s a scene in the film where the young mutants play hooky and go to see Return of the Jedi at the movies where one of them comments how the third film is always the weakest, an obvious jab at The Last Stand. The unfortunate truth is that it also applies to Apocalypse for the most recent trilogy. The film is the weakest of the group as it lacks any real direction and instead just presents audiences with extravagant mutant powers and then calls it a day. It delivers more of a slight inconvenience, rather than any sort of apocalypse.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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