Since the dawn of civilization as we know it, humanity has always tried to play god. Playing and manipulating with things that we don’t understand, sometimes for the better but more often, the opposite. Apocalypse was the first and most powerful mutant, absorbing the life-force of those he’d come into contact with; often stealing the powers of many mutants along the way. Due to this, he became immortal and unstoppable. After a few millennia in a deep sleep, he is confused as to what has happened to the planet. He recruits a team of powerful, yet lost mutants to cleanse humanity and create a new world order where he can rule as its supreme dictator. This team includes a broken Magneto (Michael Fassbender), an easily suggestible Psylocke (Olivia Munn), an egotistic Warren Worthington/Angel (Ben Hardy) and a young Storm (Alexandra Shipp) who starts her journey as nothing more than a petty thief. Raven/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) and Professor X (James McAvoy) must lead a team of young X-Men to stop their greatest nemesis and save mankind from complete extinction.
Oscar Isaac’s rendition of Apocalypse has been under much scrutiny ever since his first official image was released. He’s been at the brunt of much ridicule in form of amusing memes, GIFs and been constantly compared to Ivan Ooze. The ridicule was short-lived and he looks nothing like Mr Ooze in the movie. He’s not as bad as the trailers had people believe. I think they have created one of the best comic book movie villains to date and is certainly up there with Loki (Avengers), Zemo (Civil War) and even pushing it to The Joker in Nolan’s The Dark Knight. Oscar Isaac (The Force Awakens) is a great talent and he has a presence in this movie. His performance is truly complex and it intrigued me a great deal. The only other version of the character I’d seen (other than the comic) was in X-Men: The Animated Series. Apocalypse is a very interesting character. He’s a twisted, psychopathic mutant from ancient times and his plan is reinvent the Earth in his own image. It’s a very simplistic idea and I’ve seen these types of schemes before, yet it surprisingly works well.
First Class was set in 1960s with anti-Communist hysteria as a backdrop with Days Of Future Past set in 1970s. The third installment of the trilogy was set in 1980s. I don’t think it made use of its setting enough, as we saw with the last two movies. We wouldn’t know it was set in this era if it were not for 80s fashion choices or Star Wars references. Hopefully, the next movie being set in the 90s may be more intelligent with setting. Perhaps, we might see some references to the Matrix or have a Gulf War subplot. I hope the next movie has a lighter tone, maybe something leaning towards the 90s animated series but with a balanced serious/comedic aura like we did in First Class but with Matthew Vaughn at the helm instead of Bryna Singer.
We also had Mystique leading the team. I was apprehensive, at first but it worked. Nicholas Hoult reprised his role as Hank McCoy/Beast as well as the introduction of a young Nightcrawler (McPhee). Sophie Turner (Game Of Thrones) and Tye Sheridan (Mud) played younger Jean Grey and Scott Summers who we know to be romantically involved in their adult lives. Both actors played their characters to perfection, especially Sophie. She made Jean her own (more in the final sequences) and this opens up avenues to a Phoenix Saga movie. I also enjoyed the explorations of Charles’ mind. Jean wonders Professor X’s psychological hallways where he tells her to help him by helping herself to fulfilling her own potential. There’s two sides Jean. We have Jean Grey and The Phoenix, much akin to the Dr Jekyll-Mr Hyde ideology and we needed Jean’s Mr Hyde to defeat Apocalypse.
The gap between this film and the last is ten years. The characters haven’t aged a bit, especially since Quicksilver mentions that his father is Magneto. I know they’re mutants and all, but seriously. That continuity doesn’t make sense.The only one who shouldn’t be ageing is Mystique due to the nature of her mutation. Moving on, as much as I want to despise the end of Magneto’s arc, I love it. Turning on Apocalypse to help the X-Men was awesome. He comes back to the mansion and then leaves. I wanted him to stay but as a character, Magneto is much like Wolverine. He’s not a people person and he’s a bit of a loner. I would have liked him to become an anti-hero but it wasn’t to be.
Evan Peters’ Quicksilver is something from the greatest dream. Fox’s version of the character is miles ahead of what Joss Whedon did in Avengers: Age Of Ultron. What speedster gets killed by bullets? Fox’s version moves bullets around while they’re in air and is still back in time to see them go “Pew! Pew! Pew!” for his own amusement. Peters stole Days Of Future Past with that scene in the Pentagon, and he stole X-Men: Apocalypse speeding through Westchester’s mutant playhouse as it exploded in slow-motion whilst saving everyone inside. There’s also a moving scene where he’s playing with the conundrum on whether to tell Magneto, that they’re father and son.
Lately, comic book movies have developed a knack for dropping spoilers that would have made great surprises. It would have been great for our first reveal of Spider-Man to be in the Civil War movie rather than the trailers. There was Doomsday in the second Batman V Superman trailer and now we had Wolverine in the last trailer for X-Men: Apocalypse. Character reveals like this would have a better impact if fans felt genuinely surprised when they go to see these movies. Wolverine’s cameo in X-Men: Apocalypse is a typical Logan stunt. He kills a bunch of people and then leaves. I really liked this because the film didn’t become about Wolverine as I feared. I was afraid it would become Wolverine and his bitches, like we had in the previous trilogy as well as having two movies dedicated to Wolverine. The X-Men is more than just one character.
Due to having so many characters in the movie, there had to be some characters who received less attention than others. Psylocke and Angel were the runt of the litter who barely had any dialogue between them. It seems Angel has been butchered in two different trilogies. It’s a shame, but the film made up in other areas. As much as I love Olivia Munn (HBO’s The Newsroom), she was nothing more than a badass bit of eye candy as we saw in her comic-accurate skimpy costume. Hopefully with the introduction of Deadpool back in February, and the introduction of Psylocke in this, an X-Force movie is not off the table. Angel is killed off which leaves no room for one of the founding members of the X-Men to reappear in future movies. The two appear in cool action scenes but that’s about it.
As I mentioned in my reviews of First Class and Days Of Future Past, James McAvoy (Last King Of Scotland) and Michael Fassbender (Macbeth) were born for their roles. I will say the same again for X-Men: Apocalypse. They resonate so well with each other onscreen. It’s truly glorious. I want the impossible. I want them to play their respective characters forever. They are truly remarkable. Turner, Shipp and Sheridan were great as Jean, Storm and Scott. I can’t wait to see more of them in the next X-Men movie.
In conclusion, I really enjoyed the movie. It dragged on in places but the storylines was on point despite iffy continuity. Great acting performances from most of the cast. Angel and Psylocke being wasted is my biggest annoyance but the awesomeness of the movie as a whole, outweighs my disdain at the creative team for making such a stupid decision. The special effects are something special as well as the sound mixing/layering for Apocalypse’s voice. Furthermore, they’ve improved upon the previous attempt of The Phoenix (Last Stand) a lot with Sophie Turner. They’ve now done it the justice the character deserves. All in all, a great movie with a few hiccups.