Review – X-Men : Apocalypse
Spoilers Ahead! X-Men : Apocalypse is a flawed but ultimately enjoyable film.
Bryan Singer is back directing his fourth movie in the X-Men franchise. The film starts by introducing us to Apocalypse, the world’s first mutant, 3,600 years ago, where a botched assassination attempt leads to the titular antagonist being buried until the 1980’s. Bryan Singer has been selective about what timeline details apply to his films but this story takes place ten years after (but before the happy ending suggested at the end of) Days of Future Past and twenty-two years after X-Men : First Class.
Professor Xavier is running his school in Westchester, New York where Hank McCoy, aka Beast, is a teacher. We’re introduced to a young Jean Grey, and Alex Summers (aka Havoc) brings his brother Scott (aka Cyclops) to the school once his powers begin to manifest themselves. Mystique raids an underground mutant fight club where Angel and Nightcrawler are battling. And Magneto is working in a steel mill in Poland with a wife and child living peacefully in the forest until he saves a coworker from an industrial accident by using his powers, thus outing himself. The town policemen show up with bows and arrows and without badges or guns (no metal) to apprehend Magneto. In the scuffle Magneto’s wife and child are accidentally killed and that’s the push Magneto needs to switch back to the dark side (again).
Apocalypse meets a young Ororo Munroe stealing in a market and rescues her from the men who chased her down. After Storm, he recruits Angel, Psylocke and Magneto and goes after Professor X. Apocalypse wants to transfer his consciousness into Professor X to absorb his power and with that he could easily conquer the world.
One of the highlights of the film, again, is Quicksilver, played by Evan Peters. There’s another slow motion scene, where Quicksilver is running through the X-Mansion, rescuing everyone, as it blows up. The scene seemed to be a prerequisite seeing how well it played out in Days of Future Past, but it’s also Singer repeating himself. Quicksilver is a constant source of levity but his moment for something deeper is passed on when Magneto asks him what he’s fighting for near the movies’ climax and he clumsily responds, “my family,” instead of appealing to Magneto as his son.
I’ve always loved the relationship between Magneto and Professor X, their friendship and enmity is marked by their growing together with different ideologies and I think it’s such a strong part of the X-Men mythos and what makes their storyline so interesting. But in this movie, while Magneto is given the push to wipe out humanity by the murder of his family, his eventual turning on Apocalypse is little more than an ‘aw c’mon, help us out,’ by Professor X. Psylocke’s turning on Apocalypse isn’t even given any dialogue.
There are so many characters in the film, it’s difficult to give equal time to everyone, so Storm, Psylocke and Angel, three of the four Horsemen, aren’t fully developed characters. But at the same time, it’s nice to see cameos by somewhat obscure characters, like Caliban, whose power is to locate other mutants.
Stakes are important in these stories and the world is usually what hangs in the balance. From the outset, you know there is a good chance no one is going to die and that the good guys are going to win, so the trick comes in making the audience believe that they could lose, that they could die and I think Singer does that very well. The final battle, waged on the ground and in the mind (where Professor X joins the fray), is great. I was a bit concerned when I saw the initial reviews but I didn’t think FOX would’ve lifted the review embargo unless they thought they had a good movie on their hands. If you liked Singer’s past X-Men movies and you like X-Men comics, then you’ll likely enjoy this film as well.
Oh, and with regards to the end credit scene, someone holding an ESSEX Corp. briefcase picks up a vial of Wolverine’s blood suggesting Mr. Sinister (Nathaniel Essex) to be the main villain of the next Wolverine movie.