STARRING: 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, Ben Hardy, Lana Condor and Josh Helman
With the emergence of the world’s first mutant, Apocalypse, the X-Men must unite to defeat his extinction level plan.
X-Men: Apocalypse focuses on the first and most powerful mutant of them all, who goes by many names but is most notably known as En Sabah Nur. Upon awakening after thousands of years, he is disillusioned with the world as he finds it and recruits a team of powerful mutants to cleanse mankind and create a new world order, over which he will reign. As the fate of the world hangs in the balance, Raven with the help of Professor X must lead a team of young X-Men to stop their greatest nemesis and save mankind from complete destruction.
After the Days of Future Past instalment and since the after credits sequence set in tone that the next X-Men instalment will have Apocalypse as the main villain, expectations went into high alert. But with recent word of mouth about the film and particular performances, I brought my expectations down a notch before going into the screening earlier today. Coming out from the screening, it’s clear that this is the most ambitious attempt from Bryan Singer to go all out comic-book style storytelling from the characters to the mega-action sequence in the final act.
The opening sequence is a visual wonder as we’re transported to ancient Egypt and get a brief glimpse of Apocalypse in that period and that entire sequence I found to be terrific and a lot more violent than I expected to be in an X-Men film. It’s a 12 certificate rating and this opening pushes the limits of that rating and sets the tone for what potential violence can be expected throughout. Once again the strength of the film comes in the performance from it’s two key character actors in James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender. While the former stole the show for me in Days of Future Past, here the latter steals the show with one particular scene in the first half of the film that puts him in motion to side with Apocalypse in his grand scheme to rule the world. The film introduces a squad of fresh faces here with familiar characters such as Cyclops, Jean Grey, Nightcrawler, Storm and Angel/Archangel. Tye Sheridan personally worked for me as Scott Summers and I enjoyed his character arc in this instalment and I also enjoyed Sophie Turner’s performance as Jean Grey and you can see Singer plant the seeds of how important the characters can become going forward in the film. There’s plenty of good moments throughout the film, including a cameo that works wonders in the film yet is spoiled in the films trailers and Quicksilver has a scene that is pretty similar to his popular scene in Days of Future Past, which is very well executed yet I had a particular issue with it which I’ll mention in my negatives.
While the character does have some good moments, overall I can’t help but feel slightly disappointed with Oscar Isaac’s version of Apocalypse. His portrayal works well with this version of the character they’re trying to tell for this film but ultimately his lack of motivation which only provides the ‘…from the ashes of their world, we’ll build a better one’ after discovering mankind is thriving and lack of real threat may hurt the film for some viewers. In terms of performances, it’s not often I say this but I felt Jennifer Lawrence’s portrayal of Raven/Mystique was poor. The character has an arc which works after the events of Days of Future Past and it happens to be a key component of the film yet it just felt like Lawrence didn’t want to be there with the way certain lines are delivered. Even the kid from Eastenders, Ben Hardy playing Angel/Archangel, put more effort into his performance for me in comparison though he doesn’t have a lot of screen time. That’s another negative on the film is that it brings in a squad of characters and while some are given motivations and obstacles to overcome, others are sidelined such as the Four Horsemen (Storm, Psylocke and Angel) minus Magneto, Nightcrawler and Jubilee (She’s there at least!). The Quicksilver sequence, despite being visually well executed, it does feel shoehorned in with the music score added over it. The finale, while epic in scale, does feel like it is all destruction and no stakes in comparison to previous instalments, from the missile strikes in First Class, to attempting to save mutant kind in Days of Future Past.
Bryan Singer fully embraces the comic book nature of X-Men and X-Men: Apocalypse happens to be the most ambitious comic book style adaptation to date within the X-Men franchise. While there’s terrific moments throughout the film, there’s really good performances once again from James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, as well as the new faces coming from Tye Sheridan and Sophie Turner in particular. The film slightly falls down for me in the final act, as well as the motivations of Apocalypse in this film. 7/10