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X-Men: Apocalypse Review

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Since it’s debut in the year 2000, the X-Men series, for the most, stood out from the increasingly crowded super hero genre by using the heroics on display as analogues to real-life events past and present, from gay panic to the civil rights movement to McCarthyism. It helped the movies feel a little deeper than their compatriots, and gave the narrative some much needed bite in-between the required face punching. Including Deadpool, X-Men: Apocalypse is the ninth instalment in the franchise (the fourth with Bryan Singer at the helm), and the first to feel like a straight up superhero movie, foregoing any politically charged narrative in favour of more traditional hero vs. villain shenanigans.


Wasting no time introducing the titular big bad, an immortal mutant who swaps bodies and collects powers like Funko Pop! figures, worshipped as a god in an ancient Eygpt set prologue, X-Men: Apocalypse soon jumps to 1983, ten years after the events of Days of Future Past, finding our heroes scattered to the winds. Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) travels the world rescuing abused mutants, Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) is busy running his School for Gifted Youngsters, and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) has put his hate inciting ways behind him, living a peaceful, married life in Poland. The re-emergence of Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) shatters this new status-quo, as he and his Four Horsemen, powerful mutants which includes a now disillusioned Master of Magnetism, make plans to destroy the world and remake it in his image, viewing it as having grown weak in his absence.

With his previous instalments in the franchise, Singer proved to have a handle on juggling the narrative and the increasingly sprawling ensemble cast of characters. With Apocalypse, his steady hand shows signs of starting to shake as leaden plotting proves to be a much bigger foe than an evil mutant who espouses survival of the fittest at every turn. Once the title credits have rolled, the narrative moves forward at a glacial pace (wasting the 80’s setting at the same time), with much of the first act given over to Apocalypse assembling his Horsemen (which also includes Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Psylocke (Olivia Munn), and Archangel (Ben Hardy)), a plot point that doesn’t really need the time devoted to it seeing as how wasted they are come the third act. Things pick up in the second act as Apocalypse makes his presence known to our heroes, leading to the movie’s standout scene as Evan Peter’s Quicksilver (with help from the Eurythmics) once again steals the show, and then................the lead villain takes a back seat, and the X-Men are whisked off to the Weapon X facility from X-Men 2, a turn of events that serves no other purpose than to feature THAT cameo we all knew was coming.

This movie takes so long to get to the point, that by the time the finale comes calling, you’re close to checking out. Thankfully, the third act battle steps up to the plate, delivering one of the most satisfying final acts of a super hero movie in recent memory, all the plot threads introduced in earlier scenes, no matter how small, coming together in such a way that the poorly paced first and second acts are  all but forgotten. Sure, as I’ve mentioned before some characters prove to just be forgettable fodder, Singer goes all out in the final half hour, delivering big action, big ideas (including a battle on both the psychical  and psychic plain) and knowing nods to both fans of the movies and comics, which does bode well for the franchise going forward (with hints that Singer will finally get to tell the story he wanted to in X-Men 3 before he and that project parted ways). If they can fix the pacing issues, of course.


Thankfully the cast are able to smooth over the narrative cracks somewhat, with Lawrence, McAvoy, and Fassbender proving dab hands at their characters three movies in, even if Magneto, given plenty of dramatic meat to chew on in the first act, is just left to gloat in mid-air looking pained for much of the 144 minute runtime. Not to be out done by the old guard, the new cast members, including Sophie Turner and Tye Sheridan as younger versions of Jean Grey and Cyclops, prove to be welcome editions, with Turner especially impressive as the burgeoning telepath. Apocalypse doesn’t look half as bad as early pictures had us believe, and even buried under a mountain of prosthetics, Isaac imbues the villain with true menace, and clearly relishes the role, which makes the fact he doesn’t really do much till the finale all the more tragic.

Closing out the trilogy began in First Class with a whimper as opposed to a bang, the problems X-Men: Apocalypse has don’t take away from this being a fun superhero flick that is by no means the worst instalment in the sixteen year old franchise.






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The Movie Bit: X-Men: Apocalypse Review
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