Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Days of Future Past signalled a new dawn for the X-Men franchise, essentially ‘pulling a Star Trek’ by erasing the events of X-Men: The Last Stand, and allowing Fox to kick start their very own cinematic universe by putting a number of new films into development, starting with the ominously titled X Men: Apocalypse.
So, is it any good?First up, let me state for the record that my endorsement of this film comes with a few caveats, and that even though for the most part I enjoyed it, there are a number of issues I had which I’ll attempt to address in this review.Plot-wise X-Men: Apocalypse begins with an Ancient Egypt set prologue, during which we are introduced to our title character, whose essentially figured out a way to live forever by passing from one Mutant body to the next, absorbing their powers in the process. Following a dramatic coup by a group of extremists who believe Apocalypse to be a false god, his loyal mutant followers are overthrown and in the ensuing carnage, Apocalypse becomes entombed within his crumbled kingdom.
Cut to the early 1980s, where we find Charles Xavier’s School for the Gifted back in full swing with a new crop of fresh faced students enrolled; and Magneto now in hiding with new wife and daughter following the climactic events in Washington. That is until Apocalypse is awoken from his millennia long siesta, thrusting the mutant and human world into global chaos, and forcing characters old and new to choose a side, unite, and fight.
There’s a scene around the halfway point of X-Men: Apocalpyse when a group of characters are having a meta conversation about how third chapters in films are always the weakest; an obvious attempt by director Bryan Singer to have an easy dig at Brett Ratner’s much maligned X-Men 3. Trouble is, the gag backfires on Singer when one considers that the film we’re watching could be considered the third chapter in this new trilogy of the X-saga, which began with 2011’s First Class. Apocalypse is indeed the weakest X-Men film since Ratner’s effort, and its all down to the that fact neither director Bryan Singer nor screenwriter Simon Kinberg seem capable of taking these characters and this story in any new or exciting directions.Considering Days of Future Past wiped the slate clean and opened up new realms of possibility, everything in this film feels wildly familiar: the X-Men-to-be are still learning how to control their powers, Mystique is still grappling with her true mutant identity, and Magneto still can’t figure out whether he’s good or evil; despite the fact he’s murdered literally dozens of people at this point.
And yet, there are some brilliant moments in Apocaylpse that remind you of just how inventive and entertaining these films can be. The way some of the human characters are dispatched throughout this movie is just downright brutal, we haven’t seen powers used quite this way before in the series, and some of the on screen deaths almost warrant an MA rating. Fan favourite Quicksilver is back for another run around, and gets a fun new time bending moment that’s even more entertaining (albeit less surprising) than the Pentagon heist sequence from Days of Future Past. And the new recruits do a fine job in roles that will no doubt expand in future installments, Tye Sheridan in particular makes for a spot on young James Marsden as Cyclops, and Kodi Smit-McPhee has some of the films funniest lines as Nightcrawler (or Kurt Wagner to his friends).Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Oscar Isaac’s Apocalpyse, whose one dimensional performance makes Guardians of The Galaxy’s Ronan look like a classic screen villain by comparison. To be fair, its not Isaac’s fault the character doesn’t make much of an impact, its just that its hard to do things like “emote” and “engage an audience” when you’re hidden under layers of prosthetics and look like Ivan Ooze from Power Rangers (An observation the entire internet made when the very first publicity image was released, and we’ve hammered home ever since).X-Men: Apocalypse, whist disappointingly not covering much new ground, has just enough strong moments to make it worth your time. If you’re a fan of the previous films then definitely head out to your nearest cinema and see it on a nice big screen, but if your interest in the series has been waning in recent times, perhaps its best to wait and see this one at home.
Blu-Ray Special Features:
Deleted/Extended Scenes with Optional Introductions Bryan Singer
Wrap Party Video X-Men: Apocalypse Unearthed
Audio Commentary by Bryan Singer and Simon Kinberg
All in all it’s a pretty solid offering for the Blu-Ray release of X-Men: Apocalypse. While the Deleted scenes don’t really offer up any memorable sequences the Gag Reel and the Audio Commentary with Director Bryan Singer and producer Simon Kinberg are worth your time.
X-Men Apocalypse is out now on 3D, Blu-ray, DVD & Digital