We’re almost halfway through the year and already onto the third superhero movie that features two camps of friends turned rivals fighting against each other. It’s a fine time to be a geek, and Batman vs Robin threw down a gauntlet that Civil War picked up with gusto, so how did the latest excursion by the X Men fare?
X Men: Apocalypse starts with a flair for the dramatic, a marriage of mysticism and superhero mythology and the scene is spellbinding. It then brings us forward to the modern day, where Moira (Rosie Byrne), the CIA agent whose memory was wiped clean by Charles after their previous encounter in First Class, inadvertently wakes up the mutant known as Apocalypse who proceeds to start collecting his four proverbial horsemen. We are then introduced to a violent Angel (Ben Hardy) as he is forced to fight
Nightcrawler/Kurt (Kodi Smit-McPhee), the latter who is rescued by Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence).
Meanwhile, Magneto/Erik (Michael Fassbender) is under an assumed name, having acquired a normal life for himself along with a wife and daughter. Of course, as far as the lives of mutants go, this doesn’t last for long. He saves a man but exposes his powers, leading to a showdown in a forest that leaves everyone around him dead. The scene was brilliantly executed, a worthy portrayal of just why Erik’s view of the world is so skewered. As Apocalypse collects Angel, the street urchin Orora who will later become Storm and Psylocke (Olivia Munn) he swoops in to gather Erik as well.
Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) is meanwhile running his school, as Scott Summers (Tye Sheridan) discovers his powers and meets Jean Grey (Sophie Turner). They discover Apocalypse’s plot to destroy the world and start it again with whoever is left. Jean is underused in the movie but it pays off with a great
moment in the end.
The theatrical scope with which the main plot is revealed is lacking in the way the characters of Scott and Jean were handled, and this clash of tone was grating throughout the movie. An explosive scene was contrasted with a scene with Quicksilver that is even more hilarious than his previous one. Unfortunately though, it robbed the moment of a sense of gravitas that a character death needs if the audience is to sympathise with the ones left behind.
The X Men movies are also lacking in continuity within the franchise, there have been so many retcons and characters introduced than existed earlier in the universe that it’s hard to keep up! This makes it hard to take these things seriously, and there are a few things in the movie that feel like fan service and don’t actually contribute to the plot.
Overall the movie is disjointed and stuffed with too much: too many characters with a plot that doesn’t really connect.