Movie Review: X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)

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Ten years since the events of Days of Future Past, the X-Men have disbanded. Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) is running his Westchester County school, alongside the aide of Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult), with students including Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) and Scott Summers (Tye Sheridan) while Magneto (Michael Fassbender) is living in isolation, on the run from the world following his assassination attempt on the US President. When an ancient mutant awakens in Egypt (Oscar Isaac), it enlists the help of the most powerful mutants it can find in order to cleanse the earth. X-Men: Apocalypse is the third in the new series of films, ninth overall, and is directed by Bryan Singer.

+ the new cast are all good in their soon-to-be iconic roles of Jean Grey, Cyclops, Nightcrawler and Storm (Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, Kodi Smit-McPhee and Alexandra Shipp respectively). Turner in particular, surprised me, as I was expecting something more like her well-known turn as Sansa Stark from Game of Thrones, though my personal favourite standout was Smit-McPhee as Nightcrawler, who had particularly good comedic timing. McAvoy and Hoult are once again fantastic as Charles Xavier and Hank McCoy, though neither will surprise you. Evan Peters returns as Quicksilver, now a more major character than his DOFP single scene
+ Oscar Isaac as the titular villain, Apocalypse, was very enjoyable. The resonating bass in his voice, almost electronic at times, made for an intimidating presence, something sorely lacking from the first two films
+ I found the action slightly more interesting than other films. Nightcrawler’s teleportation makes for some entertaining physical combat (like the opening of X2), while the weather control of Storm is something I will always enjoy.

– frankly, I am over Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) playing the anti-heroes. In each of the new wave of X-men films, they have been portrayed as doing bad things for good reasons, and I just want them to embrace the fact their two most popular characters are comic book villains. I just don’t think I can care about another tragic Magneto backstory
– in many ways, the story felt rushed. Some important comic points, revelations or character developments were here instead shown in characters’ first outtings. It makes me wonder what later films will have to do to raise the stakes
– after appearing heavily in advertising, it was disheartening to see Jubilee (Lana Condor), Angel (Ben Hardy) and Psylocke (Olivia Munn) reduced to cameos, or nearly-so, with Jubilee’s downsized role the biggest offender. In an already crowded prequel series (or perhaps now this is the main timeline with the original films the spin-offs?) it would have been nice to see characters not from the earlier films

> at one point, Angel is shown listening to Metallica’s “The Four Horsemen”, which surely needs no explanation

Should you see this film: I enjoyed this more than Days of Future Past, but not quite as much as First Class. A better villain than either other film creates a more ‘comic book’ style movie which is not afraid to show it’s heroes doing heroic things makes for compelling viewing, even if the superhero film bubble is getting a bit too broad.

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