Following what some consider to be the franchise’s best film, X-Men: Apocalypse has large shoes to fill. Despite some flaws, director Bryan Singer delivers another entertaining film that will appeal to franchise fans and newcomers. The action packed story makes great use of its ensemble cast.
The opening scene establishes the character of Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) in a flashback to ancient Egypt. Also known as En Sabah Nur, he is the original mutant and has the ability to transfer himself into another’s body, gaining their powers as well. This leads to a cycle of world destruction and rebuilding, beginning again in this film with his 1983 awakening. Individuals with such strong powers tend to make poor film villains, and thus less compelling stories, but the need for Apocalypse to acquire abilities makes the story unique. Though he could easily overpower any who oppose him, the vulnerability created by the transference makes for better drama.
Apocalypse is joined by Magneto (Michael Fassbender), Storm(Alexandra Shipp), Angel (Ben Hardy), and Psylocke (Olivia Munn). With the exception of the underdeveloped Psylocke, the film does very well to establish why each mutant is willing to join Apocalypse and destroy the only world they know. The acceptance and treatment of mutants by society as a whole is once again critical to the drama, doing well to build on the events of Days of Future Past. Magneto’s unassuming life as Erik Lehnsherr provides the film’s most moving scenes, reinforcing what makes him such a dynamic and intriguing character.
The action and direction in the film is fantastic. Quicksilver (Evan Peters) again has an incredibly entertaining sequence demonstrating his speed, this time set to “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)”. Co-writer and director Bryan Singer is adept at capturing shots that enhance and highlight the characters’ powers. The camera work when Apocalypse and Storm first meet emphasizes how imposing he is, despite Oscar Isaac’s talents being wasted throughout. The actor has little to work with in portraying the emotionless villain, though the rest of the cast is given moments to shine as each character gets at least one powerful scene to feature in.
The ensemble is led by Fassbender and James McAvoy (Professor X), with strong support from newcomers Alexandra Shipp, Tye Sheridan, and Sophie Turner along with the returning Jennifer Lawrence, Rose Byrne, and Nicholas Hoult. Whether you know the characters or not it is easy to pick up on the relationships and established histories. Humor comes from a variety of places and there are some great references to the previous films. Lawrence’s Mystique is shoehorned into the movie too often, as the reverence for her character’s actions in the previous film is repeatedly used to motivate and inspire other mutants. This comes at the expense of a more substantial exploration of society and the divide between Magneto and Professor X.
X-Men: Apocalypse is a strong addition to the franchise and manages to overcome the challenge of featuring an a god-like villain. The story works and the script gives many characters an opportunity to shine and develop in this thrilling film.Our Rating: Observe