Just Another Apocalypse
En Sabah Nur (Oscar Isaac), also known as Apocalypse, is a mutant from Ancient Egypt worshipped as a god and thought by some to be the very first mutant. Apocalypse awakens in the 1980s after thousands of years of forced slumber and is not pleased with the world’s progress. He recruits four followers who he imbues with power – the proverbial four horsemen of the apocalypse – and seeks to use them to build a better world where the strong reign supreme.
And so the X-Men must band together, the familiar favourites and the next generation too, to battle Apocalypse and his horsemen, among whom is series baddie Magneto (Michael Fassbender). Key players include Professor X (James McAvoy), Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), Beast (Nicholas Hoult), Cyclops (Tye Sheridan) and Jean Grey (Sophie Turner).
The acting can’t be faulted but, as with previous X-Men films, there are too many supporting characters and so some of them are shafted (notably any horsemen not called Magneto). As with most superhero movies these days featuring global destruction, the runtime is suitably epic – clocking in at about two and a half hours. The movie is never boring but the pacing is inconsistent, so some fatigue may set in.
The story too is painted in broad strokes, particularly when dealing with an archetypal villain like Apocalypse – who is imposing despite the blue face paint. Sadly, it doesn’t shake up the X-Men universe in a significant way unlike the superlative X-Men: Days of Future Past, and the threat of total annihilation isn’t exactly ‘new’ (the final battle takes places in a deserted cityscape while computer effects lay waste to worldwide landmarks).
It’s hard to escape the sense of ‘been there, done that’, but it’s held together by a skilled filmmaker (Bryan Singer, who has directed some of the best X-Men movies), strong performances, a great score by returning composer John Ottman and terrific action set pieces, including a standout sequence featuring crowd-pleaser Quicksilver (Evan Peters) – but even this sequence is a retread of a famous scene from Days of Future Past.
While it lacks originality and may not rise to the heights of the franchise’s top tier, X-Men: Apocalypse remains a solid entry in the series that will scratch the X-Men itch until Logan hits cinemas next year.