Bryan Singer returns at the directing helm of X-Men: Apocalypse, the ninth installment of the X-Men franchise. Having directed some very good, even excellent films from several different genres, there is a certain level of quality that we have come to expect from not only Singer, himself, but from the X-Men films as well. This latest installment has been getting a beating from some critics, and although Apocalypse is not in the category of some of the other X-Men films, it is a decent film thanks largely to excellent performances, a compelling (enough) plot and fantastic visuals. There was an odd opening “thank you” from the lovely Alexandra Shipp on behalf of the entire cast and crew before the film even starts. There was nothing wrong with it, but I am 48 years old and have never seen this in all of my years. Not a complaint, just an observation.
The film opens with the attempted assassination of En Sabah Nur (ultimately played by Oscar Isaac), who is believed to be the first mutant. He must change bodies to stay alive but is seemingly indestructible. Uncovered many years late (1983 to be exact) he attempts to recruit the other mutants by enhancing their powers for, what else, EVIL. I won’t divulge much of the plot because it is very involved, hops around the world from location to location and is better if you go into this film not knowing that much. Such as to say though, the plot takes a while to get established. Fortunately, I was interested in these characters, their powers and Oscar Isaac did not disappoint as En Sabah Nur.
Almost every mutant featured in the previous films makes an appearance in Apocalypse with the exception of Rogue. Oddly, she is not even referenced and Wolverine has one big scene and never heard from again, so if these are two that you are going to see the film for, you will be disappointed. If you are interested in the larger story dealing with just about every other mutant then this is your movie. I can see why some have still come away disappointed. X-Men: Apocalypse takes a while to get its footing and does not seem to be in a rush. At a run time of almost 2 1/2 hours, it does not need to be in a hurry. It takes it time in developing the characters when they are all still in their teens and just becoming aware of their abilities. Only, Magneto (Michael Fassbender), the Professor (James McAvoy) and Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) are as they have been, age wise, throughout this series. McAvoy and Fassbender are both terrific as always but for me, Lawrence seemed a bit wooden here, and was the weakest link, but she is serviceable enough to get the job done as a character.
The cast, too numerous to mention, is uniformly excellent and the Singer’s pacing though deliberate and methodical is at a decent clip so, although there are some gaps in the pacing, I did not lose interest in what I was watching and Quicksilver has some terrific moments that give this film some added levity. This guy really needs his own movie. The visuals are stuffed almost to the rim and at the detriment of the story, to a certain degree. But overall, this is a decent film and I think some of the bashing it has taken is a little bit unfair. It still remains true to its original theme of people accepting others who are different and even poses some interesting questions not touched on before. John Ottman, who has scored a lot of Singer’s films, provides another gritty score that does the action justice but also enhances the drama, effectively.
X-Men: Apocalypse is nothing that will be remembered at the end of the year when the Oscars are announced although, as a technological one , the film is excellent. The story could have been fleshed out a bit and Simon Kinberg’s script sometimes sputters along, but overall, I did enjoy this film. It is a good thing, too. There are more sequels planned, as well as another Wolverine film (which Hugh Jackman said would be his last outing as that character) and a Gambit film with the on again, off again Channing Tatum in that lead role. This material is still fresh and exciting, despite the fact that we are saturated with super hero films, these days. X-Men: Apocalypse will keep me interested in what the future presents. You will want to stay through the credits to the very end. There is one final bonus scene setting up future films.
X-Men: Apocalypse- *** out of 5
X-Men: Apocalypse- Rated PG-13 for language, some language, violence and gore
X-Men: Apocalypse- Run Time is 150 minutes