X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)

First Class brought the mutants together, Days of Future Past rewrote history and exposed them to the world. Now in Apocalypse, we discover that mutants have been around far, far longer than anyone thought – and when the ‘first’ is reawoken, his ancient world view is as old testament as it gets: by fire or flood, wipe clean the slate and let the strongest inherit the remains of the earth.

The X-Men franchise is an odd one. We’ve had other superhero reboots – well, okay, we’ve had Batman twice and Spider-man twice (F4 still does not exist, alright?!) – but with the X-Men we don’t really start over: old characters meet their new younger counterparts, and the same Wolverine threads through every single movie. Time travel, eh?!

However, there is something of an end of an era approaching. Apocalypse is the last of the ‘new’ trilogy, we are told, with both Hugh Jackman and Jennifer Lawrence (Mystique) announcing their departures from the franchise. What better story to tell, then, than the scourging of the earth?

And despite horrendous reviews/ratings, I’m happy to report that I enjoyed Apocalypse just fine! Sure, it’s silly – really, just ‘cos superhero movies have taken over the cinema doesn’t mean we have to take them seriously!

Which isn’t to say the film is perfect. There are a lot of characters, not all of whom are well used. The new baddies – the four ‘horsemen’ – are criminally under utilised, appearing pouty and not much more. I didn’t even realise one of them was a well-known future X-Man – I’m not sure if a name is mentioned before the credits. The main baddie (Oscar Isaac plus much latex), too, is a little… hmm. He seems to have vast and incredible powers, and yet needs (?) others to help out with the little destruction plan. On the other hand, his lack of discrimination between humans and (weak) mutants is somewhat refreshing, changing the MO from nearly all the other movies.

Fortunately, the central cast do get a better deal. Professor X and Magneto, and Mystique, have had strong character arcs since First Class, and that continues here. Michael Fassbender is outstanding, if a little squashed into the whole jumble. There is some effort, too, to start rebuilding previously disrupted timelines, such as the first meeting of Cyclops and Jean Gray, or the events at Alkali Lake. It does, perhaps, tip over into too much going on, and as a result a lot of plot threads are left rather weakly, and a lot of characters pushed into the background. Even the wonderful Quicksilver slo-mo scene starts to feel a little gratuitously over-long, the humour shoe-horned in just a tad.

Overall, though… well, there’s a lot to enjoy if you switch your brain off, but this is still the weakest of the new trilogy – however, no where near as awful as the previous third installment (Last Stand), which I think this tries – a little too hard – to make up for.

Final note: there is a post-credit scene, after the ~13 billion names of people who worked on this movie, and I’d suggest that unless you are a proper comic nerd you’re going to have to look it up online anyway and might as well save yourself the additional bladder strain! 😉

Released: 20th May 2016
Viewed: 20th May 2016
Running time: 144 minutes
Rated: 12A

My rating: 6.5/10

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