X-Men: Apocalypse Review: Let’s X-amine this one.
Please Note: This review contains spoilers/plot reveals.
The film begins with a group of devout followers of En Sabah Nur (Oscar Isaac) performing a ritual to transfer his consciousness into the body of another. Some undercover operatives have joined forces to work against him and trap him once the ritual begins. They succeed and trap him in the ruins of a pyramid but not before one of his devout followers wraps him in a membrane that would save him from harm. Thousands and thousands years go by until a group has discovered the hidden ruins and while praying to him, accidentally uncover the ruins and activate the ritual that would awaken En Sabah Nur, all with Moira Mactaggert (Rose Byrne) watching.
Meanwhile, it is now 1983 and Raven/ Mystique, and Erik/ Magneto have both started new lives, trying to hide from the prior events of 1973. Erik has found himself a quiet life in Poland where he lives with his wife, Magda (Carolina Bartczak) and daughter, Nina (T.J. McGibbon). They live peacefully until one day there is an accident at the factory and instead of Erik letting a man die, he uses his powers to save him. This turns out to be an egregious error and while attempting to flee, discovers his daughter is missing. She is being held in the woods by police men who suspect Erik’s real identity. He agrees to go quietly but his daughter gets extremely upset and in that rage, her powers manifest and we discover she can control animals. She uses birds to attack the policemen and in a tragic turn of events, one of them accidentally fires an arrow which kills both Erik’s wife and daughter. In a blind rage, Erik uses a necklace he gave to his daughter to pierce through all the men’s necks and kill them. Visually and emotionally, that scene is mesmerizing.
Raven/ Mystique has taken a different path and is working to liberate mutants who are being held against their will. She comes into a warehouse where they have Kurt Wagner/ Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) and Angel (Ben Hardy) fighting against each other in a cage match to the death. She releases Nightcrawler and they escape using his powers which can transport them anywhere. They end up going to Caliban, where Raven/ Mystique needs a passport. They leave to see Charles and ask for his help in tracking Erik.
En Sabah Nur is busy roaming the earth with Storm/ Ororo Munroe (Alexandra Shipp), recruiting the strongest mutants, which brings them to Caliban’s place. They convince Psylocke and Angel to join their team.
In an attempt to help find Erik, Charles taps into Cerebro and connects with En Sabah Nur. He learns of his plans but by doing so has allowed En Sabah Nur into his mind, thus allowing him to track Charles. En Sabah Nur uses this to track Charles and steal him from the school, but not before a battle kills Alex Summers/ Havok (Lucas Till) and destroys the entire school. Luckily Peter Maximoff/Quicksilver (Evan Peters) is there to quickly save all the children in the school in a typical Quicksilver slo-mo scene, which of course is the best scene in the entire film.
The school and children are relieved when a military helicopter comes to rescue them, only to realize that it is Col. William Striker (Josh Helman). His team uses a sonic machine that renders everyone unconscious. Col. Striker and his team take Raven, Hank (Nicholas Hoult), Moira, and Peter and load them on the plane. Scott, Kurt and Jean are in the shadows and they sneak their way onto the plane in an attempt to save their elders. Col. Striker and his team take them to a secure location where they lock Hank, Raven, Moira and Peter in a room that renders their powers useless. The teens must work to help save them so that they can stop En Sabah Nur and rescue the Professor.
I want to stop with the plot there because I don’t want to ruin anything else in the film. Before I continue with complaints and commendations, I want to say that the X-Men movies are my favorite superhero movies, so I am a little more critical of them. My complaints for this film began with Oscar Isaac as En Sabah Nur. The part didn’t fit him and the scenes with him were campy and didn’t fit the tone of the rest of the film. There were actually scenes where I laughed at the performance. There is also a weird decision to randomly give Storm an accent, but for the previous films, she only has one in the first film. Jennifer Lawrence looked extremely disinterested in the entire movie. There were scenes where she needed to be sincere and caring and it just came off as lackluster and apathetic. Olivia Munn was another lackluster performance. Her entire role consisted of the most revealing costume and ominous angry stares. Enough already. She is a really talented actress and I wish they utilized her talents more than her, shall we say “assets.” Tye Sheridan also didn’t wow me as Scott, and as such a central character, I thought they would do a better job casting.
There were some really great scenes and performances, such as the scene with Quicksilver and any scene with Magneto. There were also some really terrible scenes, but one in particular that comes to mind with En Sabah Nur on a hill. I don’t want to go into any more detail about that scene because it will ruin a plot point, but be on the lookout for that scene. Quicksilver’s slo-mo scene where he was saving the children from the school was visually really fun, but is subpar compared to the similar scene in the first film. Michael Fassbender was the clear star actor of the film. He out-acted everyone. His scenes were captivating and engaging and his emotions were real. I thought that Nightcrawler was great and that he brought some much needed comic relief to the film.
The film suffered from a bloated runtime and is an imbalanced film in many aspects. The acting and the performances were so back and forth between great and terrible that it was hard to stay engaged in the atmosphere that the film was attempting to create. I enjoyed seeing the X-Men back on screen but hope any more films that come from Fox will be much more thoroughly done.