After the re-emergence of the world’s first mutant, world-destroyer Apocalypse, the X-Men must unite to defeat his extinction level plan.
Director: Bryan Singer
Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Oscar Isaac, Nicholas Hoult, Rose Byrne, Tye Sheridan, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Olivia Munn
Rated: PG-13 (violence, sexuality, nudity, language and brief drug use)
By Cole Schneider
The newest X-Men episode has some story problems to be sure, but compared to so many other recent superhero ensemble pieces, these problems are minor and infrequent. The third in a trilogy after “First Class” and “Days of Future Past”, “Apocalypse” brings back an excellent cast. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender as Professor X and Magneto, respectively, are surely the most potent lead actor combination the superhero movie there’s ever been. Throughout each of these films they’re so good that it’s difficult to imagine any duo ever out-acting them. The rest of the cast has been spotty in the previous films, particularly Jennifer Lawrence and Nicholas Hoult, but in “Apocalypse” the whole team has dived into character.
Team is the operative word here as this ensemble continues in the unfortunate direction of recent superhero flicks that chew off more than it can bite in terms of scope and volume of narrative, but like the best X-Men films or “The [original] Avengers” this is a movie specifically about teamwork and the nature of community. That doesn’t wipe away those faults, but at least it explains them. Other problems in the film include another villain whose powers far outweigh his resonance, a petty cameo, and an awful non sequitur about Star Wars, each among Hollywood’s worst recently developed patterns.
But as much as it indulges in Hollywood’s worst, “Apocalypse” occasionally puts in the necessary work to sidestep expectations and clichés. Storm’s brief origin story is welcomed and economical; a subplot that develops with Quicksilver isn’t the cheap answer we expect. “Apocalypse” brings us the best and worst of cinema’s superhero world.
3 out of 5 Stars
By Matt Greene
I’ve liked many of the X-Men films, but is it just me, or do we all collectively forget this franchise exists until the next one is released? This is especially a problem with 9 films in 15 years, with so many sequels, prequels, sidequels, spin-offs, and jumps-in-time that keeping track of the plot and the multitude of characters requires mutant-esque power in itself. The unbridled success of the last film, Days of Future Past, would discount those worries of franchise amnesia, only it’s appeal was mostly in its 70s nostalgia and intention to stick with what we know. Apocalypse, an intense series continuation that requires much of its audience and offers little, may be the least inspired film in the bunch.
There’s nothing to the plot: an ancient being with seemingly endless power rises from the ashes to end the world, and only the X-Men can stop him. It’s boring and over-done. Sure, McAvoy and Fassbender continue to enhance all the material they’re given with a gravitas and depth beyond anything else in these films. However, those great central performances can’t save a movie whose villain is so dumb, uninteresting, and paper-thin that the normally-great Oscar Isaac even comes off as plastic. The rampant deus ex machina and muddled motivations give the high-danger plot a feeling of having no stakes at all.
It’s a shame the overall experience is so muddy and ill-advised seeing as how there are definitely some great scenes found throughout. Scene stealers Magneto and Quicksilver each get there times to shine, in moments both cool and emotionally interesting. Unfortunately, a collection of cool set pieces can’t overcome the tired and hasty story.
2.5 out of 5 stars