Movie Review: X-Men: Apocalypse
Release Date: 5/27/2016
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Running Time: 144 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of violence, action and destruction, brief strong language and some suggestive images.
Director: Bryan Singer
Writer: Simon Kinberg; based on the Marvel characters by Stan Lee and Luke Kirby.
Cast: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Oscar Isaac, Nicholas Hoult, Rose Byrne, Tye Sheridan, Sophie Turner, Olivia Munn, Lucas Till, Evan Peters, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Alexandra Shipp
There's no slowing down the X-Men movie series. 16 years later, the franchise has churned out its 8th installment with no end in sight. As long as fans continue to come out for these movies, the chances of Marvel getting the film rights back from 20th Century Fox is delayed longer. Back is director Bryan Singer (who made the first two movies in the series and the last one, Days of Future Past) along with the cast of First Class and a new cast of younger incarnations of mutants from the original trilogy of movies. Following in the wake of Deadpool (a spin-off that featured some X-Men characters), though, the newest installment feels like a blip in the series.
Set 10 years after Days of Future Past in 1983, Professor Xavier (James McAvoy) has established his gifted school for children with mutant powers. New students learning to control their powers are Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) and Scott Summers (Tye Sheridan). In Egypt, CIA agent Moira MacTaggart discovers that one of the earliest mutants, Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac), has been resurrected with the intention of ending human civilization. Joining him are Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Angel (Ben Hardy), Psylocke (Olivia Munn) and a grieved Magneto (Michael Fassbender). It is up Xavier, Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), Beast (Nicholas Hoult) and the other X-Men to prevent Apocalypse from causing global genocide.
X-Men: Apocalypse exists as a means to make money off of a brand name, not to advance the characters or the story. After spending three movies with these younger variations of the original trilogy's characters, the point has been reached where we're wondering when the story will come full circle to the beginning of the first X-Men movie from 2000. Also lacking is a memorable villain. The talent of Oscar Isaac, fresh off of The Force Awakens and Ex Machina, is squandered as Apocalypse.
There are moments where the movie lives up to its full potential. Well-handled is Magneto's arc following Days of Future Past, where his peaceful life in Poland is changed forever when he gives away his mutant powers by saving another man's life. In another great scene, Quicksilver (Evan Peters) uses his super speed to save the lives of everyone in a building about to blow up as Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams" plays. But the story is a jumbled mashup of various plot threads with potential that get shortchanged in a 144-minute movie. Bryan Singer is more concerned with setting up the action and shoehorning in a cameo by a favorite character.
X-Men: Apocalypse is not the worst of the series (X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine still share that honor). But it is a disappointment compared to the previous X-Men movies directed by Singer and Matthew Vaughn's X-Men: First Class. Apocalypse doesn't live up to expectations not because it is a bad movie but because it feels like a minor entry in the series. The climatic battle is chaotic, taking place inside the minds of Xavier and Apocalypse in a showdown that ends in confusion. And it is time to retire plots about villains bent on causing global destruction. The First Class movies have been setting the table for exciting new adventures for this younger X-Men crew by filling us up with appetizers. Maybe in the next one, they will finally get around to delivering the main course.