X-Men Apocalypse is Marvels’s latest addition to the X-Men franchise, bringing back Bryan Singer (X-Men, X2 and Days of Future Past) for the fourth time as director. Apocalypse focuses on the origin of mutants, rendered through a fantastic opening sequence set thousands of years in the past, as we’re introduced to the first mutant, a supervillain, En Sabah Noor (also called Apocalypse, played by Oscar Isaac) who’s grown more powerful through the centuries by transferring his essence into the bodies of other mutants while adopting their powers. He’s betrayed just after the transference ritual and buried under tons of rubble; he returns in 1983, all pent-up rage, omnipotent(ish) and eager to destroy the world to re-create it in his image.
The film is set ten years after the events of Days of Future Past (after Professor X, Raven and co. thwart Magneto’s attempt to assassinate the U.S. president), with Magneto (Michael Fassbender) living an idyllic family life in Poland, Raven (Jenifer Lawrence) trotting around Europe rescuing mutants from human bondage, and Professor Xavier (James McAvoy) happily ensconced in his mansion, nurturing a new generation of “gifted youngsters”. Magneto is forced to break his exile and join forces with En Sabah Noor. Raven, who has maintained her strong crush on Magneto throughout pretty much every X-Men film on record, teams up with Professor X and a bunch of younger mutants to throw a large spanner in the works of En Sabah Noor.
As mentioned, the film starts big, but fails to maintain this pace. Days of Future Past, as well as several other Marvel and DC releases in the last few years, have raised our expectations with respect to this genre, so that the script and screenplay have become as important as the action sequences and special effects, and Apocalypse is quite mediocre with the former two. It’s not bad, but it lacks the compactness and emotional depth of Singer’s last and critically acclaimed X-Men film. That said, it never strays into the realm of Michael Bay’s ventures but one does get the impression that with just a couple of cheesy dialogues and a bit of low-grade comic relief thrown in, this could have approached a Transformer-esque level of watchablity. Speaking of comic-relief though, Apocalypse, like Days of Future Past, once again serves up a tour de force of a sequence with Quicksilver re-iterating a rescue mission in slomo that is quite poetic in its elegance, charm and beauty. It’s longer than the Magneto rescue from the previous film and you can watch it a hundred times without getting bored.
The special effects are excellent, so if that’s the most important thing for you then you’re in serious luck, because the scale and progression of every action sequence, as the film builds up to the climactic showdown, is first-rate, with some major cities taking some serious hits. The characters are well-defined and motivated; Game of Thrones fans will be delighted to see Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) as Jean Grey, as (finally) a good and strong leader, and among the most powerful mutants in the X-Men universe. She and the rest of her youthful band are obviously in for the long haul (more X-Men films) and are reasonably impressive.
As long as you keep your expectations in check, this is a fun movie to watch. Oh and there’s a wild cameo from Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) in all his feral glory!
JWD Rating 3.5/5
Contributed by Rabindra for “JWD”