Originally posted by Scott Sedman
This review may contain spoilers please avoid reading until after viewing the movie.
Bryan Singer’s X-Men films have always been enjoyable and Apocalypse is no different. The film tells the story of Apocalypse reawakening in the 80’s set on gathering powerful mutants and reclaiming rulership of earth, in addition to this there is the set up of a young Scott Summers (Tye Sheridan) Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) and Storm (Alexandra Shipp).
The story opens in ancient Egypt in a visually impressive action piece and gives a good sense of Apocalypse being a god-like figure, we also see the Egyptian four horsemen which added a nice bit of flavour, seeing what their powers were and what they could do. It got pretty violent at points with a man being crumbled up into a ball bodies flung against the wall devoid of skin and boulders flat-out crushing people. Unfortunately the film drags from here on, re-introducing characters we’ve seen before, I understand they are setting up a new generation of X-Men but I wish it would’ve been done in a fresh way.
Carrying on from uninteresting setups which slow the pacing of this film is that of Apocalypse’s horsemen which are Magneto (Michael Fassbender), Psylocke (Olivia Munn), Angel (Ben Hardy), and Storm. Now this is an incredibly interesting team they put together however the Horsemen do nothing until the very last act and still then they really don’t do much then when they are given their chance to shine. When they aren’t following Apocalypse around the four are stood atop rocks overlooking modern-day Egypt.
As the film progresses it becomes clear that this is more of a sequel to ‘First Class’ than ‘Days of Future Past’ with having the return of Havoc and Mori. The only real effect ‘Days of Future Past’ has had on this world is that Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) is now a hero for mutants and Magneto is on the run. As mentioned previously he becomes a horseman for Apocalypse but prior to this his story is heartbreaking and really resonated with me. The heart of the ‘First Class’ trilogy has always been the Xavier, Magneto and Raven relationship and thankfully Apocalypse delivers that with Mcavoy and Fassbender giving their strongest performances yet. Strong performances don’t end there though, all the new cast deliver really likable characters, especially Tye Sheridan and Sophie Turner as Scott and Jean respectively. Their portrayal of these iconic characters is incredible, you buy into the problems both have and there is some slight hint towards a future relationship but that isn’t the focus and you really see the growth of them from where they start and where they end up.
Also of note is Evan Peters who stole the show in his brief moment in ‘Days of Future Past’ as Quicksilver, and he does so again in a thrilling mansion rescue scene to sweet dreams, it’s just full on entertainment and worth the price of admission for that scene alone, even if it does come at the cost of one of my favorite characters. Aside from the mansion scene Evans has more development to his character with him knowing Magneto is his father and wanting to reconcile with him, as well as go hand to hand with Apocalypse and I legitimately thought he could take him down on his own.
Now is a good time to talk about Apocalypse portrayed by Oscar Isaac. He is really underwhelming as a villain with his motivation being really one note. He ends up doing more good for the world than bad, and despite having four powerful mutants by his side and having an array of powers to himself, the final confrontation that the entire film builds to, and the climax of this trilogy, is not so much a mess but chaotic and bland. I want to see Apocalypse regardless of the horsemen being on the offensive where he is always on the defensive, even in the mind battle with Xavier (which I really didn’t like until Jean appears) he only gets one little moment of victory. However, with Apocalypse being weak we do get to see the X-Men being strong and it is incredibly satisfying seeing them all come together, Cyclops letting loose and finally using his powers in a way that is focused and can really feel the emotion, Mystique finally coming around and embracing herself. Beast…well-being Beast. Magneto throwing a giant X in front of Apocalypse (subtle) and then giving him his all he has. Storm throwing down lightning. Then we get a moment excellently foreshadowed throughout the movie, Jean Grey unleashes the phoenix and it’s visually magnificent, in both the mind battle and in the real world. The utter destruction of Apocalypse makes it worth seeing, and Jean Grey sets herself up as a more imposing and dominant force in about a minute than Apocalypse does in an entire movie, that again is a testament to Turner and her performance. With the Phoenix now being in play it’ll be exciting to see where they go next with the X-Men franchise.
Before I conclude this review I have to talk about the ending. This ending as fan of the X-Men, cartoons and movies was possibly the perfect end to an X-Men movie. We see all the new team Quicksilver, Nightcrawler, Storm, Jean and Cyclops all in a room, yes the danger room! The ending does a lot to get you excited and is the purest X-Men moment on-screen, for me at least, and I really hope we see this cast again as I’m very interested to see where this goes because it’s not hard for anyone to love that ending if you are a fan of the X-Men.
In conclusion, although Apocalypse isn’t really a threat until the last act and is ultimately underwhelming, as are the horsemen, the moments that are pure X-Men shine through and make this an enjoyable thrill ride of emotion (especially if you are invested in the franchise and that is in part due to Singers direction as well as the amazing cast he has assembled). Is it perfect? No. Does it retread familiar ground? Yes, but through it all it’s a highly entertaining summer movie and a fitting end to another X-Men trilogy with a really positive outlook on the future.