Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and his pupils face the end of the world when the first mutant, Apocalpyse (Oscar Isaac) is resurrected and aims to destroy the world, or something equally boring, with the help of his four horsemen including Magento (Michael Fassbender). Spoiler filled discussion to follow.
Viewed at Cineworld Nottingham
After the success of X-men: First Class and Days of Future Past I had high hopes for Bryan Singer’s Apocalypse. A little too high perhaps as I came out very disappointed. It’s not a bad film by any means but it’s so formulaic. It’s so generic and quite boring at times. There’s no tension at any point. It just feels like the whole crew were just going through the motions on this one. It’s a huge opportunity missed and a real shame to leave what was touted as ‘The First Class Trilogy’ on such a downer. If this is the last appearance of the original cast of First Class then what a disappointing way to go out.
The basic premise of the film is pretty much as I summarised above and not much more to be honest. It’s very linear. Bad guy reawakens. Bad guy tries to destroy world. Good guys win. After the complex and intriguing plot lines running throughout First Class and DoFP it really is a disappointment. We’re given a prologue of sorts showing us how Apocalypse ends up buried deep underground in a sort of stasis after a number of his followers turn on him, declaring him a false God. We get an interesting look at Apocalypse’s powers here as he transfers his consciousness into another body and in doing so claims the ‘powers’ of that mutant. Which is important to remember later on. Flash forward several thousand years into the future and ten years on from DoFP and funnily NOBODY HAS AGED AT ALL. Why has nobody aged over twenty years from First Class to Apocalypse? What happened to continuity? Seriously. Get your shit together fox.
Charles Xavier is still running his school for gifted youngsters with the help of Hank McCoy/ Beast (Nicholas Holt). Their cohort includes new recruits Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) and Scott Summers (Tye Sheridan). Magneto, since the events of DoFP, has become a recluse living in Poland with his wife and young daughter, working in a factory. He seems genuinely happy and at peace. However, when he saves the life of one of his fellow workers, he’s outed as the villainous Magneto and it’s not long before the police come knocking. Predictably, in what is a genuine accident, Magneto’s child and wife are killed sending Eric into a rage fuelled murderous rampage killing the police presence at his house and he heads to the factory to kill the men who reported him to the authorities.
Once Apocalypse has reawoken he decides that he is unhappy at the way the world is being run in this modern era and predictably decides to destroy everything and take over. Really imaginative. To do this he needs his four horsemen and recruits Storm, Psylocke, Angel and a mourning Magneto. A side note but again, I’m confused at the timeline here. Angel was in X-Men: The Last Stand as a young man. How is he a young man also in the ‘80s? I know the timeline has been reset somewhat. But it just feels like Fox are using DoFP as an excuse to do whatever the fuck they want regardless of whether it makes sense or not. Just blame it on the timeline. Back to the four horsemen and none of their motives feel particularly strong for joining up to destroy the world. Storm, Psylocke and Angel are non-characters and have almost nothing to do in the film and have zero characterisation. Magneto’s motives are also not fleshed out at all. He’s just angry so he decides to destroy the world. He’s probably the best thing in the previous two films. He’s such a complex character and he’s always had a valid reason for doing what he does. Here, he’s just a pawn for Apocalypse. It’s a waste of a fantastic actor.
Apocalypse takes Xavier prisoner in an effort to claim his mind control powers for his own and it’s up to the young team of X-Men led by Mystique and Beast to save the day. When will Fox realise that Mystique is not Katniss from the Hunger Games? She’s not a hero. Not even the reluctant one she is in Apocalypse. It’s a disservice to the character. Just because it’s Jennifer Lawrence doesn’t mean she has to play the hero. Along the way, Xavier’s mansion turned school is destroyed inadvertently by Havoc trying to fight off Apocalypse. Havoc is killed in the blast. This is the second time the X-men franchise has killed off a Summers brother off camera. His death has literally no impact on the rest of the film. Enter Quicksilver. He conveniently turns up and rescues everyone, other than Havoc, in a scene very similar to his one in DoFP. It’s an impressive scene, visually. But it doesn’t really work for me. The tone goes from deadly serious as Apocalypse and his horsemen kidnap Xavier to a fun comical Quicksilver slo-mo set piece and then back to deadly serious as we learn Havoc is dead. Although, none of the characters care about his death, so I guess we shouldn’t either. The Quicksilver scene feels really shoehorned in. It’s like they thought, “Well, everyone liked the first scene so lets do it again regardless of the rest of the film”
After a brief period of captivity by William Stryker (Josh Helman) our heroes unite to take down Apocalypse, who is planning to transfer himself over to Charles’ body to gain his mind control powers. The Stryker stuff also feels shoehorned in so that they could give us the Wolverine cameo, which adds literally nothing to the film. Except a terrible joke. Eventually, Apocalypse is defeated when Jean Grey unleashes the Phoenix force on her enemy and Magneto and Storm for some reason change allegiances at the last minute to help to destroy the big bad. Our final shot is a shot of the new X-Men, who we’re told will return in the ‘90s. We can expect nobody to age again.
This is not a particularly interesting film. It’s OK and enjoyable but nothing more than that. The dialogue is boring and bland. There’s a number of jokes that are just terrible including Jean Grey’s “Everybody knows the third one always the worst”. The joke is on you Fox because this is nothing more than a disappointment after the two previous instalments. It’s nowhere near as bad as Wolverine: Origins, though. So there’s that.
So what about the big bad, Apocalypse himself? Isaac’s performance is lost beneath his odd costume but he’s fine in the role, as you’d expect. He’s not given anything particularly interesting to do though. He’s not a complex character. And that’s true for the rest of the film. There’s no clashing of philosophies, no fighting between friends and the conflict is so one-dimensional and uninteresting. Some of the best scenes from First Class and DoFP are between Magneto and Xavier and we don’t get any time with them together here which is a huge disappointment. In fact, we don’t get a lot of any character really. Nobody’s character really shines because the dialogue is so drab and is mostly used for exposition. I didn’t get enough of the old characters I loved from previous films but nor did I get a strong sense of the new characters.