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X-Men: Apocalypse – Movie Review

From director Bryan Singer and writer Simon Kinberg, X-Men: Apocalypse resurrects the first and most powerful mutant to do battle against the infamous X-Men.

Release Date: May 27, 2016
Writer: Simon Kinberg
Director: Bryan Singer
Cast: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Oscar Isaac, Nicholas Hoult, Rose Byrne

Since the dawn of civilization, the first mutant Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) escaped death by moving his essence from mutant host to mutant host. With each transition, he would take on that mutant’s power. As he became more powerful, the humans around him would worship him as God.

That is until that last transition, when the human, who served him, revolted and was able to defeat Apocalypse. But defeat and death are two different things. For the next several millennia, efforts have been made to dig Apocalypse from his grave. All attempts unsuccessful…until the 1980’s.

It has been ten years since the events of X-Men: Days of Future Past. Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) has built a school out of his mansion home. Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) has been rescuing mutants from abuse and exploitation. In the process, she has become a hero to other mutants. Magneto (Michael Fassbender) has withdrawn into hidden seclusion with his new wife and daughter.

At the new school, Xavier gives each student a proper education and help in controlling his/her powers. With dreams of one-day uniting humans and mutants, Xavier is optimistic about the progress of his school. He is faced with some challenging students. Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) is a telepath, which is more powerful and more dangerous than Xavier. Scott Summers (Tye Sheridan) emits a dangerously powerful optic blast from his eye and needs help controlling it.

The students are now called prematurely into action when Apocalypse arrives and recruits his four horsemen: Angel (Ben Hardy), Psylocke (Oliva Munn), Storm (Alexandra Shipp) and yes…Magneto. After the betrayal of his friends and neighbors, Erik’s wife and daughter are killed. As Magneto, Erik joins Apocalypse to once and for all put an end to the reign of humans on Earth.

As you can see, there is a lot of story going on in X-Men: Apocalypse. This is also the main problem of the movie. In a superhero movie, audiences want action and except for a few minor set pieces, the action does not happen until the third act of the film. The first two acts hint at the powers of most characters, but it is really Xavier and Magneto who have the action. This action is McAvoy putting his fingers to his head and people doing what he says. Then there is Magneto with his hands in magicians pose while special effects happen around him.

If there is anything good about this X-Men movie, it is the final fight in the third act, when everyone’s powers are on display. This is the moment that the movie feels like a comic book. The exception is the horrible fights with Beast (Nicholas Hoult). It looks awkward and clumsy. The wire work just looks silly. The problem is you will have to sit through the first two acts to get there.

The early part of the film has good acting, over the top comic book drama, and a little too much humanizing the characters, so that we can relate to the story. You can tell the film still needed more exposition. It is still unclear, what Apocalypse’s powers are. The big cameo just at the end of the second act looks rather silly and a waste of the talent.

Again, my complaint is that we want to see mutant powers in action. It’s clear that Jennifer Lawrence is a big star…rightfully so. But as the chameleon, Mystique, she changes from maybe twice and is rarely ever in her blue makeup. Is this the perk of being a big star. Kodi Smit-McPhee is cool as my favorite X-Men, Nightcrawler. There is a lot of teleporting. Thank you, Bryan Singer. Evan Peters also returns as Quicksilver with a scene that almost tops the slow-motion segment in Day of Future Past. Nice try, Bryan Singer.

By no means, is X-Men: Apocalypse a great X-Men movie. It is barely a good one. By no means, is it as bad as Superman v. Batman. With the strides that Marvel Studios and Disney have brought to the superhero genre, we expect better from a team that is rich in amazing source material.