X-Men: Apocalypse is a superhero period piece set in the early eighties. Sounds like a dream come true if you are a mid-thirties comic book geek. Not only does the film feature an abundance of Marvel characters, but you also get a slew of nostalgic references such as Pac-Man and Knight Rider playing on the telly. Taking place several years after Days of Future Past, we get to see how Charles Xavier has converted his mansion home into a school that tutors young mutants. Meanwhile his old pal Erik Lehnsherr (Magneto) is lying low in Poland, hoping to avoid retribution for his past misdeeds. Unfortunately for Magneto his hopes of starting a new life are wrecked when the police murder his wife and daughter. Convinced once again that mutants and humans cannot live in peace he joins forces with a group who are plotting to unleash an apocalypse upon mankind.
For those of you not acquainted with Marvel comic lore, Apocalypse is the super-villain name of En Sabah Nur – the world’s first mutant. Although the history books won’t tell you this, he ruled ancient Egypt until his followers rebelled and locked him away in a tomb. After a lengthy slumber (even longer than my naps after a wild Friday night) he awakens in the 1980s. Motivated to reclaim his throne, Apocalypse plans to cause a massive natural disaster that will eradicate most life on Earth. From the ashes he can then rebuild his kingdom using any survivors who swear allegiance to him. Apocalypse recruits four horsemen to aid him with his endeavour, whose ranks include Erik the master of magnetism, Storm who can control the weather, a flying pit-fighter named Angel and sexy psychic ninja Psylocke.
20th Century Fox do not own the Avengers rights so it falls on the X-Men to save Earth from peril. The team includes some familiar faces including furry genius Beast. Mystique also returns to help her former rivals against a common foe. A bored looking Jennifer Lawrence plays the character. Jen, if you feel action flicks are beneath you please piss off. You aren’t all that great and Rebecca Romijn looked far hotter in the blue makeup. Anyways, complimenting the old guard are some new fledgling X-Men who I presume are being groomed to front future films. The trio of heroes in training consist of Havoc’s brother Cyclops, German teleporter Nightcrawler and redhead telepath Jean Grey. All of them fear the powers they have been born with, but will need to embrace those gifts if they are to protect the world.
My rating for X-Men: Apocalypse is three and a half stars. Overall it was much better than the reviews I have read suggested. X-Men: Apocalypse may not be a top tier superhero film, but it’s far superior to X3: The Last Stand. I liked how menacing Apocalypse is. Despite being powerful enough to defeat the X-Men singlehandedly, he prefers instead to coerce others to do his bidding. Sadly positioning Apocalypse as chief antagonist relegates Magneto to the role of lackey. A bit of a waste, as Michael Fassbender’s take on the character is superb. Fox Studios should resurrect the idea of giving Magneto his own solo film. He’d make for a more compelling anti-hero than the overexposed Wolverine. If you can’t get enough of Hugh Jackman don’t worry though because he makes a non-speaking cameo appearance in one scene.
X-Men: Apocalypse’s biggest fault would have to be that it falls into the trap of throwing too many characters into the mix. The end result is insufficient time to develop any of the new faces, even if the film runs for over two hours. I personally think X-Men works best when you focus on a core group and their relationships with each other. Spectacular visuals do however disguise the lack of depth. For the second successive film Quicksilver steals the show with a fleet of foot rescue. The sequence where he dashes into a burning building is worth the price of admission alone. Bryan Singer has done a commendable job adapting X-Men for the big screen. Even if the movies aren’t flawless they handle the source material better than Fantastic Four’s live action efforts. Someone should sue the filmmakers for false advertising. The 2015 FF was anything but fantastic.