Dan's Review: "X-Men: Apocalypse" enjoyable, but repetitive
Jennifer Lawrence and Evan Peters in X-Men: Apocalypse - © 2015 20th Century Fox
X-Men: Apocalypse (20th Century Fox)
Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence, action and destruction, brief strong language and some suggestive images.
Starring James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Oscar Isaac, Nicholas Hoult, Rose Byrne, Tye Sheridan, Sophie Turner, Olivia Munn, Lucas Till, Evan Peters, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Alexandra Shipp, Ben Hardy, Lana Condor, Josh Helman, Tómas Lemarquis, Hugh Jackman.
Written by Simon Kinberg, Bryan Singer, Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris, based on comics by Stan lee and Jack Kirby.
Directed by Bryan Singer.
There comes a time in a film franchise when you know it’s time to stop. Sometimes, studios realize it’s too late, or - as in the case of last year’s Fantastic Four debacle – realize they should have stopped before they started. When it comes to comic book superheroes, the shelf life of a character franchise can go through all kinds of incarnations, complete with reboots, prequels and alternate universe options. The X-Men franchise has gone through all the above, culminating with this week’s release of X-Men: Apocalypse, a sequel to 2014’s Days of Future Past. Is it time for 20th Century Fox to hang up the X-Men franchise again?
The story picks up in 1983, ten years since Raven/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) jumped in to save President Nixon from assassination at the hands of Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto (Michael Fassbender). Having staved off mutant annihilation, Dr. Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) is thriving as headmaster in his “school for the gifted,” where he teaches young mutants how to harness their powers into a force for good. Joining Xavier is Hank McCoy/Beast (Nicolas Hoult), along with young students Jean Gray (Sophie Turner) and newcomer Scott Summers/Cyclops (Tye Sheridan).
Meanwhile in Egypt, a mysterious being has been awakened after being buried for centuries. He’s En Sabah Nur, a.k.a. Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac), and he’s the original mutant capable of destroying the entire earth. He’s discovered by CIA agent Moira MacTaggart (Rose Byrne), who seeks help from Xavier to thwart his plans. Apocalypse begins recruiting his “four horsemen” accomplices, beginning with Ororo Munrow/Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Elizabeth Braddock/ Psylocke (Olivia Munn), Warren Worthington/Angel (Ben Hardy). The fourth recruit is non other than Magneto, who’s lost hope in humanity (again) after the senseless death of new wife and daughter in Poland. Mystique learns of Magneto’s fall from grace (again) and seeks help from Xavier, but not before saving the young Kurt Wagner/Nightcrawler from certain death and bringing him to the school.
At the very moment when all the principle players are assembled at Xavier’s school, Apocalypse and his companions attack. At the exact same moment, Peter Maximoff/Quicksilver (Evan Peters) arrives at the school, and uses his super speed to save almost all of the students, but not before the evil Colonel William Stryker (Josh Helman) captures some of the more gifted mutants, and not before Apocalypse steals away with Xavier, hoping to use his gift for communicating with all mutants in order to mete out destruction on the world.
The scene is set for a battle between the forces of evil and a last-ditch attempt to rescue Xavier and convince Magneto that killing everyone is a bad idea (again).
Let me first say that X-Men: Apocalypse is an enjoyable film, with a lot of action, cool special effects, good performances and an interesting premise. One character saves this movie from taking itself too seriously, as Evan Peters’ portrayal of Quicksilver adds a little comedy and wonder to the world of mutant power. Peters stole the movie in Days of Future Past, too.
That said, it might be time to put the mutants on the shelf (again). The overriding theme of mutants-saving-humanity-from-themselves-while-using-powers-for-good is beginning to wear out. How many times can Magneto be saved from the rage he feels at being the victim of idiotic and paranoid human abuse? How many more speeches can Xavier give about pacifism and embracing our differences? Yes, we’ve seen and heard it all before, and even though it’s a worthwhile message to visit from time to time, it can get a little tedious.
Bryan Singer, the creator of the original X-Men movie franchise jumped ship when it seemed like the series had run its course (in 2006), only to jump back in with a new (and altered timeline) prequel series in 2011 (X-Men: First Class). Perhaps it’s time to let the mutants take another break, and allow the series to gain a new vision and purpose. The world may in fact need the X-Men, but maybe not so much.
X-Men: Apocalypse Trailer