Bryan Singer returns to direct X-Men: Apocalypse, the third film in the young X-Men storyline and the 6th film in the franchise (Singer directing 4 of them). Looking to capitalize on the success of 2014’s X-Men: Days of Future Past, Apocalypse looks to take a giant leap forward by bringing in younger versions of fan favorite characters as well as pit the X-Men against their biggest foe yet, the first and most powerful mutant, En Sabah Nur, also known as “Apocalypse”. Can Singer keep the momentum or will their latest installment fall to the enormous pressure of the new Marvel cinematic world.
Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) has awoken after a thousand years to find the world he once knew has changed. Disgusted by what he sees, Apocalypse assembles his four horsemen, Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Angel (Ben Hardy), Psylocke (Olivia Munn) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender), to help him with this task of destroying humanity to right the wrongs of the new world and bring forth a better one. Meanwhile, Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) continues to rebuild the image of the mutant community after the events of Days of Future Past. His School for the Gifted is now thriving with young mutants all looking for help to harness their powers and become accepted into society. Along with colleague Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult), Xavier hopes the school will act as haven for the oppressed with hopes that one day humans and mutants alike can attend the school in harmony.
Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) has returned to enlist the help of her former allies after news that Magneto had resurfaced. Xavier, in hopes to locate Magneto, encounters the power of Apocalypse first hand and realizes that this foe will take more to battle than anything they’ve faced before. Four young mutants, Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), Quicksilver (Evan Peters), Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) and Scott Summers (Ty Sheridan) join the fight as the X-Men prepare for a battle that will decide the fate of the world. Will this young team be enough to stop the powerful force that is upon them?
X-Men: Apocalypse doesn’t steer much away from the X-Men formula of late, and that’s both to its advantage and its downfall. Each of the last two films focused heavily on the redemption of Mystique and Magneto and, where it worked magnificently in Days of Future Past, it tends to feel like a rehash in this film. The continuing evolution of the X-Men characters has been exciting as they add new blood like Scott Summers and Jean Grey, X-Men royalty to comic book fans, into the mix. Both Ty Sheridan and Sophia Turner were cast perfectly and I am excited to see where their cinematic storyline flourishes. Kodi Smit-McPhee was also just as wonderful as Nightcrawler, a character brought to life so perfectly by Alan Cummings in X2: X-Men United. Oliva Munn, Ben Hardy and Alexandra Shipp look to have a bright future in this every growing universe, I just wish they were given more time to flush out their characters on screen in this one. Oscar Isaac is the essential piece to this film as the antagonist Apocalypse. Isaac embodies the elegance of the character while revealing his true sinister nature when needed making him the best villain to date in the X-Men franchise.
The returning cast is there to provide the necessary steps forward for the newcomers. I’m amazed at how well James McAvoy is settling in as Charles Xavier. With each film I have the continued belief that he is the perfect cornerstone to build this franchise on. Michael Fassbender’s emotionally charged Magneto nicely shapes the character as the constant anti-hero. You can’t help but want him to find that peace that will help him channel the rage that consumes him. Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult and Evan Peters all provide essential parts to the present and future success of this franchise. Lawrence has the most questionable character re-imagining, but I am very intrigued to see it to it’s conclusion.
Overall, X-Men: Apocalypse isn’t the high water mark we were all hoping it would be, but it’s far from X-Men: Last Stand. In a summer of Civil Wars and Dawns of Justice, this film will find an audience somewhere in the middle of those films. A fun summer popcorn movie, and sometimes that’s all you need.
3 out of 5
After Credit Scene?