Review – X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)

First things first, X-Men DOFP was by far the best film in the series. The movie shed ample light on the character sketches & plot, had some brilliant set-pieces on show, and of course a great titular lead in Wolverine. First Class, directed by Matthew Vaughn, introduced us to the younger generation of mutants and brought a fresh set of actors on-board. Bryan Singer, director of X-Men(2000), X2(2003) and DOFP(2014), yet again took over directorial duties to proffer the greatest X-Men antagonist of the 80s ..APOCALYPSE!

The movie begins in 3600 BCE, where supreme ruler of Egypt, En Sabah Nur a.k.a Apocalypse, is betrayed by his clan to be inhumed alive all the while being protected by his Four Horsemen, only to be reawakened in 1983 to realize that much of the world has changed in his absence. He wants to regain control of the world he once ruled and decides to eradicate mankind off the face of the earth, in order to recreate it in his own impression. For this, he needs to acquire the  powers of the telepathic genius Prof. Charles Xavier. Much of the first hour is spent in showcasing the recruitment spree undertaken simultaneously by En Sabah Nur, Mystique and Xavier at various locations. En Sabah Nur discovers his Four Horsemen in the form of Storm, Angel, Psylocke and Magneto, while we see the young Scott Summers a.k.a Cyclops getting introduced to the Mutant school by his brother, and Nightcrawler being saved by Mystique in an underground fight-club sequence. The rest of the film is how the confrontation between Xavier and En Sabah Nur, with their respective team of mutants, play out.

It is refreshing to see the younger versions of the mutants take centre stage yet again, although not much is delineated with regard to why En Sabah Nur, allegedly the most powerful mutant ever, requires the help of his ‘Four Horsemen’.  Not that a superhero or comic-book fanatic wouldn’t love to see those characters, it certainly would’ve helped had these characters been etched out a little more comprehensively. Erik Lensherr’s story looked like it needed more detailing for the average viewer to care. It looked extremely rushed. These are some of the areas which lacked a smooth flow of narration in Simon Kinberg’s screenplay.

The crop of actors in Apocalypse however, makes sure that the movie does not lose its momentum at any point. Mcavoy does a neat job of playing Xavier, while Fassbender is great in the Poland portions but does not have much to do in the latter half. Jennifer Lawrence continues her good run, but like Fassbender, has a relatively subdued role in the latter portions of the movie. The cherry on the cake arrives in the form of Evan Peters’ Quicksilver, who gets one of the best scenes in the whole movie. He, and Kodi Smit-McPhee who plays Nightcrawler, keeps the affairs light-hearted even in the most panicky situations. GOT’s Sophie Turner plays the younger Jean Grey with much oomph. The rest of the cast pitch in with exemplary performances. Oscar Isaac, who plays En Sabah Nur, is amassed under truckloads of make-up, but tries his best to exhibit a sort of dark verve that is relevant to his character.

The climactic set-piece is fun but tacky. Viewer interest is high when the villain has the upper hand, but at other times the scenes play out rather casually without much creative flurry. In other words, while you expect a big storm, all you are subjected to, is a bit of breeze and not much else. It is probably because DOFP was too good a predecessor and set the expectations bar very high. Nonetheless, Apocalypse holds its ground firm enough for things to get a lot better in the sequels. Wolverine’s cameo was executed well, and the post-credits scene points all fingers towards the upcoming villain.

As a closing note, it is advisable to treat Apocalypse as a gap filler unlike DOFP, which worked fine even as a stand-alone. Although quite entertaining with enough Easter eggs for comic book junkies, Apocalypse turns out to be an above-average fare overstuffed with characters not necessarily justifying the plot. The set-pieces do have their charm but are ultimately forgettable. Therefore, the film may not bring in hordes of new fans for the X-men series but could probably satisfy existing ones. Nevertheless, I’d still look forward to watching the upcoming Wolverine, Deadpool and Gambit sequels.

*** out of five stars

Watch the trailer here:

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