X-Men: Apocalypse is an underwhelming entry into the long running franchise, featuring a rather forgettable villain but featuring strong performances from the newcomers in the franchise.
Opening up in ancient Egypt, En Sabah Nur (or as we know him, Apocalypse), is the ruler of all the land. His worshippers are preparing an ancient ritual known as the transference, where En Sabah Nur’s consciousness is transferred into another human being, so while his old body dies, he’s given new life in a new, fresh body. Only they appear to hit a snag — some of the guards aren’t exactly supporters of Apocalypse and they attempt to prevent the transference from taking place. The good news: the temple is destroyed and Apocalypse is buried underground. The bad news? The ritual still took place and was successful. So while Apocalypse does have a new body, he’s trapped.
Jumping to the present, several new important mutants are brought to the spotlight. Raven/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) is investigating an underground mutant fight club, where Angel (Ben Hardy) is being pit against Kurt Wagner/Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee). Raven is able to disrupt the match, but not before Nightcrawler is able to fatally damage Angel’s wings, making them useless. In a high school, Scott Summers (Tye Sheridan) has powers that are beginning to manifest, shooting optic blasts from his eyes. His older brother Alex/Havok (Lucas Till) brings Scott to Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. It’s here where Scott accidentally bumps into Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), showing her gifts of telekinesis and mind reading.
While all of this is happening back in the states, an old friend, Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne) is out in Egypt investigating a cult that worships Apocalypse. One thing leads to another and Apocalypse has now been arisen, which basically means he’s going to destroy the world and rule it with those who survive in its ashes.
Unlike previous films in the franchise, X-Men: Apocalypse doesn’t quite feel as fleshed out and complete as it could have been. The first and second act are plagued with pacing issues and with some pretty lousy writing and character development, making it a struggle to plow through until the end. Luckily, the third act of Apocalypse almost feels like redemption for the subpar previous acts. When it comes to this big, grand villain to take on the X-Men, Apocalypse definitely seemed like the right call. Obviously, his power appears to be infinite and almost unmatched. Which makes his treatment in the film laughable to say the least. Oscar Isaac does his best with the material given to him, but that doesn’t make up for the poor design and post voice work given to Apocalypse.
For the shortcomings involving the villain, the new heroes are really given a chance to shine. A lot of Apocalypse focuses on first timers Tye Sheridan, Sophie Turner, and Kodi Smit-McPhee, the new holy trinity for the X-Men universe. Each character is given their moment to shine, in particularly Turner as Jean Grey. As usual, both McAvoy and Fassbender absolutely own their roles as Xavier and Magneto, especially seeing a whole lot of the Xavier from First Class. And to get it out of the way since we all know it’s happening, Wolverine does have a cameo. It is fun. And it does actually make sense that Wolverine would be around at this particular time in the 80’s.
Coming back for his fourth X-Men film, Bryan Singer has shown he has the ability to create a captivating story that will bring results, both financially and critically. Personally, I’m a bit exhausted of Singer and prefer Matthew Vaughn’s touch as seen in First Class, but that’s just me. Anyway, with X-Men: Apocalypse, Singer has brought to us what is easily his weakest entry into the X-Men universe. In a way, Singer uses Apocalypse in a similar fashion that the Marvel Cinematic Universe used Iron Man 2: the story was below average, the villain was disappointing, but Singer used the film to plant a whole bunch of seeds for future X-Men stories. Which is sad, since with the group of characters assembled for this particular story, Singer could have created something special. Instead, we have an otherwise forgettable X-Men story, but at least it has one helluva third act. And of course, stick around until the end of the credits as there’s always a scene waiting for you.
X-Men: Apocalypse is directed by Bryan Singer, written by Simon Kinberg, and stars James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Oscar Isaac, Nicholas Hoult, Rose Byrne, Tye Sheridan, Sophie Turner, Olivia Munn, and Lucas Till. X-Men: Apocalypse will be in theaters May 27, 2016.