Apocalypse can be defined as the end of the world or a cataclysmic event. The real question here is can it also mean the end of a tired franchise?
X-Men: Apocalypse is the latest in the mutant saga that has been ongoing in the multiplexes for 16 years. Director Bryan Singer first brought X-Men to the screen in 2000, directed a fantastic sequel in 2003 and then returned with some prequels and sequels later in 2014. Like most money-making machines, the X-Men films have had a few touch-ups along the way with Singer always involved in some capacity of these films.
Maybe it’s time for Singer to move on. A once cool and interesting story of a cadre of weirdly talented characters now feels exhausted. Singer seems exhausted. X-Men: Apocalypse is a result of a director ready to move past his billion dollar enterprise.
The movie opens with a prologue set in ancient Egypt, where En Sabah Nur, or Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac), goes into a long slumber. He is later awakened and ready to obliterate the world and start anew through his own vision.
Meanwhile, the other mutants of the series are off doing their own thing. Erik, or Magneto (Michael Fassbender), has settled down in Poland. He is married with one daughter and works as an iron worker. He has changed his name with the hopes that no one will ever find out who he really is. He is perfectly content, if not the happiest he’s ever been, laboring away every day and coming home to his family at night.
Professor Xavier (James McAvoy) is still the head of Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. He welcomes a new class of mutants, including Scott Summers, or Cyclops (Tye Sheridan) and a young Jean Grey (Sophia Turner). Nicholas Hoult returns as Hank McCoy, aka Beast.
There’s also Jennifer Lawrence’s Raven, or Mystique, and Rose Byrne’s CIA officer Moira MacTaggert returning for the latest outing. Evan Peters is back as Quicksilver. And we meet Kodi Smit-McPhee’s Nightcrawler. Exhausted?
There’s a lot of characters stuffed in X-Men: Apocalypse and not nearly enough material to go around, which is a problem when a movie runs just shy of two and a half hours. A lot of these characters get minimal dialogue and sometimes feel like extras in the background. Olivia Munn enters as Psylocke, who joins forces with Apocalypse, and is of no use to this film.
If anyone is growing tired of X-Men is appears to be the lovely Lawrence. She is an actress of incredible range and ready to continue making movies outside of the two franchises she has been a part of. She just seems dazed and bored, lacking the firecracker energy she brings to the majority of her roles. Fassbender is the only character given a whiff of nuance but he is mostly required to brood throughout most of his scenes.
In the matter of a few years, Isaac has become one of the most interesting actors working in movies today. His performances in A Most Violent Year, Inside Llewyn Davis and Ex Machina has shown what a versatile actor he is. Buried under ugly make-up, Isaac makes for an uninteresting villain. His work in Ex Machina is far more terrifying and menacing than anything he is asked to do here.
The real problem with X-Men Apocalypse is its lack of forward momentum. There’s no drive to the story. It’s a numbing and soulless summer spectacle, which has left the fun and energy in previous film.
X-Men: Apocalypse? Please let it be just that.
3 out of 10