Film Review: ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ (spoiler-free)

The end is nigh…

Starring:  James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Oscar Isaac, Rose Byrne, Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Ben Hardy, Alexandra Shipp

Directed by:  Bryan Singer / Written by:  Simon Kinberg (story by Bryan Singer, Simon Kinberg, Michael Dougherty & Dan Harris) / 147 minutes

What’s it about?

Professor Charles Xavier unites a new generation of X-Men to battle against the ancient and mighty mutant known as Apocalypse…

In review

Following the huge critical and commercial success of X-Men: Days of Future Past, director Bryan Singer returns once again to helm the latest chapter in 20th Century Fox’s long running X-Men film series, based on the lucrative and ever popular Marvel Comics property.  Given that Singer’s original foray into the Marvel mutant universe was with 2000’s X-Men (the success of which is credited with launching the modern superhero film craze that we enjoy today), you would be forgiven for thinking that he would not have anything further to give to the franchise – yet it feels that Singer channels just as much passion and energy into X-Men: Apocalypse as he did on the rather excellent Days of Future Past.

The story for this X-Men outing centres on the emergence of the all-mighty and powerful being known as Apocalypse, believed to be the world’s first mutant.  Ruling over the denizens of ancient Egypt, he is betrayed and left for dead until revived in the film’s setting of the early 1980s.  Needless to say, Apocalypse soon plots revenge against humanity and seeks to use his powers to reshape the world as he sees fit.  It’s this threat that sees Charles Xavier unite fresh blood with some familiar faces to build a new team of ‘X-Men’ and prevent the annihilation of the human race.

The threat is a familiar one for comic book superhero films but world-ending scenarios coupled with epic action and jaw dropping special effects is what the audiences for these films have come to expect and it makes proceedings all the more entertaining.  Like Days of Future Past and Marvel Studios’ recent smash Captain America: Civil War, Apocalypse features a large roster of characters yet never feels as though it falters under its own weight.  Whilst future X-Men Storm, Angel and Psylocke (Olivia Munn) feature in largely introductory roles the story of Apocalypse focuses more significantly on younger versions of Cyclops, Jean Grey and Nightcrawler who under the guidance of Xavier, Hank McCoy (aka X-Man ‘Beast’) and Raven (aka the shape-shifting Mystique) learn to use their abilities ‘for the cause’.  The new cast fit their parts well and complement each other nicely with plenty of room to further develop their characters in future instalments.

McAvoy and Fassbender are as great as they always have been as Professor Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto respectively, the latter served with some really great dramatic elements to chew on, it’s just a shame that Fassbender’s part feels diminished in the film’s later acts as he falls under the control of Apocalypse.  it’s also a little disappointing that although the two actors are (rightfully) given an appreciable amount of screentime, there is actually little that they share together, as the chemistry between them has been such a key part to the success of their previous X-Men outings.

But what of Evan Peters, who stole the show as Peter Maximoff – aka the speedster called Quicksilver – in Days of Future Past?  Well, the good news is that he does so again and this time he enjoys a much larger role and Singer and his team outdo what they did in Days of Future Past to deliver one of the film’s greatest and most pleasing sequences.  As the titular antagonist of the film’s subtitle, Oscar Isaac (crack pilot Poe Dameron in Star Wars: The Force Awakens) imbues Apocalypse with a – for the most part – subtle intensity, the make-up design allowing him to express and emote with an appropriate mix of intellect and sinister snarl.

The finale of Apocalypse facilitates the requisite spectacle as the triumphant unison of this new team of heroes plays out against peril and large scale destruction on a level that exceeds that of Days of Future Past and with a few surprises and fan pleasing in-jokes thrown in for good measure, X-Men: Apocalypse is another successful entry for the franchise.

The bottom line:  With the same level of fun and excitement as Days of Future Past, X-Men: Apocalypse is a pleasing addition to the long running series, featuring some promising new cast members amongst beloved familiar faces.

X-Men: Apocalypse is in cinemas across the UK now and opens in U.S. theatres and other territories on 27th May.

Oscar Isaac prepares to wreak havok in 20th Century Fox's 'X-Men: Apocalypse'.

Oscar Isaac prepares to wreak havok in 20th Century Fox’s ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’.

15 thoughts on “Film Review: ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ (spoiler-free)

  1. X-Men Apocalypse was really good, I thoroughly enjoyed the film, and I thought there were some epic battles in this one. I’m a big fan of the X-Men films, so was looking forward to this film a lot. Great review 🙂

    • Thanks Paul, likewise. I actually think Fox have gotten better and better with their X-Men films and believe the franchise is in good hands. Excited to see where they go next and fingers crossed McAvoy, Fassbender and Lawrence will sign up for further instalments!

      • You’re welcome. I really liked X-Men Apocalypse. I agree, Fox have done great work with the films, and I like the direction they’ve taken with the franchise. Awesome cast as well, here’s hoping they return for more.

      • Yeah I can’t really understand why a number of comic book fans don’t like Fox’s X-Men films. I’ve read X-Men comics since the 90s and have never had a problem with the film m versions (although The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine were missteps).

      • Same here. Overall I think Fox has managed the franchise perfectly. Last Stand &\Origins are certainly the weakest, but I’m just such a big fan of the X-Men, enjoy all the films so much 🙂

  2. I am so glad to see a positive review on this! I have been excited for this movie for ages! Can’t wait to see it 🙂 Great review Chris!

  3. It’s nice to see such a glowing review. I’m seeing it this Friday and looking forward to it despite the critical drubbing it has received in the press.

  4. I was at first discouraged by the swathe of negative reviews, but after my brother enjoyed it (I always trust him) and now your good self, I feel a sense of reassurance. 🙂

  5. Have to say that I wasn’t a huge fan of this installment. First Class and Days of Future Past were far superior movies, with better plot direction and acting. The chemistry between some of the newly introduced characters felt weak. I didn’t enjoy Jean Grey (the younger version); her acting skills seems to limit to what she’s done for Game of Thrones. I also felt like Apocalypse’s army (Archangel and Psylocke especially) were really poorly and underused. The movie in general had a lot of cheesy moments, but some of these actors did have some great moments. Oscar Isaac nailed some of his moments, while at other times fell flat.

    I do however enjoyed your positive review of the movie. It’s nice to see that the movie was enjoyed by people! 😀

    – Lashaan

    • Thanks for the kind words mate, sorry to hear you didn’t enjoy this one as much as the previous two (which I agree were rather excellent films). You’re right about Apocalypse’s horseman being underutilised and the did a bit of a Hawkeye in Avengers with Magneto but he did have some great (and tragic) moments earlier on.

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