Main cast: James McAvoy (Professor Charles Xavier/Professor X), Michael Fassbender (Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto), Jennifer Lawrence (Raven Darkhölme/Mystique), Oscar Isaac (En Sabah Nur) Nicholas Hoult (Hank McCoy/Beast), Rose Byrne (Moira MacTaggert), Evan Peters (Peter Maximoff/Quicksilver), Tye Sheridan (Scott Summers/Cyclops), Sophie Turner (Jean Grey), Olivia Munn (Psylocke), Kodi Smit-McPhee (Nightcrawler/Kurt Wagner), Alexandra Shipp (Storm), and Ben Hardy (Archangel)
Director: Bryan Singer
About ten years have passed since the events in X-Men: Days of Future Past. Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine had gone back to his timeline, so this one takes place in the “second reboot” timeline – you know, the one without Patrick Stewart. Don’t worry, Hugh Jackman is still in here in a brief cameo, as heaven knows, he could really use the box office hit to boost his CV. So, in this timeline, people know about the mutants, and Charles Xavier runs his happy school alongside Hank. Meanwhile, Mystique is a mercenary, traveling around the world and rescuing mutants who need rescuing. Erik has assumed a new identity, married some woman, and has a daughter. Alas, the wife and the daughter die soon after, making him go, “Huh, huh, the world is evil and I must mete out justice, huh huh!” His identity blown, Erik goes on the run. Mystique, hearing of his problem, heads back to Xavier and her other old comrades to see whether they can help Erik out.
Meanwhile, the first mutant ever, En Sabah Nur, wakes up from his millennia-long slumber to discover that the weak humans have taken over. Well, he can’t have that. He recruits Storm, Psylocke, Archangel, and – of course – Magneto to be his Four Horsemen as he goes about showing who the boss is. When Xavier uses Cerebros to locate and communicate with Erik, he falls under Mr Apocalypse’s notice, and our super villain decides that he could certainly find a use for Xavier’s power. Being able to mind rape and communicate with every human and mutant in this world – at one go! – is certainly something every respectable super villain should approve of, after all!
In other news, the school sees some newcomers: Cyclops, Jean Grey, Nightcrawler, and of course, Quicksilver. Jubilee is there, too, for about 3 minutes to show the world that this movie has some token Asian characters in it so diversity is, indeed, love.
Now, the X-Men movies never boasted particularly clever or remarkable stories, and, honestly, they are made by the sheer charisma and chemistry of the cast. In this particular trilogy, the presence and chemistry of James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, and Michael Fassbender make up for the weaknesses in the past two movies. Something has changed here, however. While Jennifer Lawrence is still as earnest as ever, James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender are merely going through the motions. Then again, at least Ms Lawrence has some rallying cries – Ms McAvoy is reduced to mouthing some of most vapid lines ever about trust in one’s goodness, while Mr Fassbender is made to mostly pout and pose in the backdrop. In a way, this is a “passing the torch” kind of movie, as the focus is also on the young cast of Cyclops, Jean Grey, Nightcrawler, and Quicksilver, but their roles are stripped down to one-dimensional cardboard cutout realness. The only characters that make a bit of an impression is Nightcrawler who is channeling Michael Jackson full force in his appearance and red jacket, and Quicksilver, if only because the script allows him to hog the screen for so much for who knows what reason. Maybe Evan Peters has blackmail material on Bryan Singer? Heaven knows, with his greasy-looking hair and bleary bullfrog eyes, I don’t think he’s cast for his good looks.
X-Men: Apocalypse is, as a result, a shockingly boring movie. It’s not even a movie, just an overlong film of people posturing and posing, as if they are hoping to be immortalized in memes and animated gifs. Seriously, the Four Horsemen spend more time posing on screen than actually doing something – what you see of Storm, Psylocke, and Archangel in the trailers is pretty much the extent of the action time here. Also, the absence of a few number of more expensive actors seemed to have the people behind this movie go, “Let’s hire more no-name people to fill up the set!” as the number of people running all over the place means that nobody really has a chance to develop into anything more than a stereotype. The newcomers are so bland, I find myself missing the older cast equivalents in the first trilogy.
Oh, and it’s actually funny in a sad, cringey way how casually and easily they kill off Havok to let the pouty, bland Cyclops take over.
The worst thing about this movie, though, is the script. Even for what it is, this one is unbelievably nonsensical. En Sabah Nur is supposedly the most powerful mutant ever, but he spends most of time posturing and making aggrandizing speeches before being killed off in an unintentionally funny one-hit-kill way by Jean Grey, who suddenly unleashes her Phoenix power at the last minute, screeching like a banshee as she is wrapped up in CGI flames, and then oops, Apocalypse is dead. Talk about an anticlimax. He also has human worshippers, but he doesn’t make use of them. Then again, he doesn’t even make good use of his followers. Recruiting Magneto makes sense, given his powers, and Storm too… but recruiting Psylocke who can only do magic blades and Archangel who flies around? What are these two going to do, make coffee and take down minutes during meetings? The villain is built up to be awesome, but he is a failure in planning and a flop of a threat to the good guys.
There are also inconsistencies, such as Cyclops’s optic beams either destroying things one minute or acting like some kind of holding shield the next, but the most cringe-inducing of all is the continuing woobie-fication of Magneto. Now, I know, there are many people who want to have sex with Michael Fassbender, which probably explains his character’s continuous freedom and existence, but come on, how many times do we need to see Magneto kill people and take part in a plot of mass destruction, only to have Charles let him walk free in the end? Here, Magneto actively causes the deaths of millions before he decides to help take down Apocalypse – the fact that Charles sees nothing wrong in calling him friend and letting him go without accounting for his sins only makes Charles look like a complete hypocrite. He talks about humans and mutants holding hands and singing around campfires… and enables a terrorist who wants to cause harm to humans.
Then again, this is the same movie that wants me to feel sorry about Magneto losing his wife and kid. You know, the same guy who did those things in the last two movies. He has killed many people’s loved ones – what makes his losing his loved ones so special?
Not that I want a woobie Magneto, mind you. Mr Fassbender’s Magneto is the sexiest and most memorable when he’s just being evil, and I detest how they are trying to make Magneto a woobie, badly so at that.
The clichés also come fast and loose. Again, Magneto provides a good example – when he tells his daughter he’d never leave her, and he and his wife portray such a perfect family together, complete with a ridiculously well-furnished and spacious cabin in the woods, of course the wife and the daughter will die. Seriously, with the amount of the problems in this movie associated with Magneto, no wonder Mr Fassbender looks like he is counting the minutes until his contract is up. He provides the much-needed pretty jawline and stubble factor that has decreased considerably with Hugh Jackman’s appearance reduced to only a cameo, but his character is the pits in this movie.
Oh, and the overload of CGI is pretty bad looking. Everything looks really fake here, as if they let the untried interns do the CGI this time to cut cost. Psylocke’s pink whip, Jean Grey’s standing on an invisible platform (is that supposed to be her hovering in mid-air?), and all the shows of telekinetic powers are especially horrible.
I also don’t understand why these movies can’t have a new plot. How many movies now have these people been talking about humans not trusting mutants, blah blah blah? More than 10 years, right? The characters are going through the same issues after all these years, so the entire franchise is fast approaching Terminator levels of crappiness when all they do is to mangle the same story line again and again. Come on, how about a different story for once?
X-Men: Apocalypse is, for a box office film, disturbingly too much like some crap movie hastily churned out to allow Fox to keep the license a little longer. It’s something best watched only when it’s available for rental – nothing in here comes close when compared to the previous two movies in this particular reboot.