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…
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.