Review by Lauryn Angel
The X-Men franchise has been one of the more reliably satisfying super-hero series since its inception in 2000 (if you over look X-Men: The Last Stand, which I usually do). Perhaps that’s why X-Men: Apocalypse is more than a little disappointing. That’s not to say it’s a bad movie – it’s not. It just isn’t as good as X-Men: Days of Future Past or X-Men: First Class. In a year full of movies in which superheroes fight superheroes, X-Men: Apocalypse re-treads similar ground instead of exploring new ground.
The movie opens in the Nile Valley in 3600 B.C.E., with Apocalypse preparing to transfer into the body of En Sabah Nur (Oscar Isaac). While the transfer is successful, circumstances transpire to prevent Apocalypse from leaving the temple. The sequence is visually impressive and sets the stage for an action-packed movie. And then the film shifts ahead to an Ohio high school in 1983, where Scott Summers (Tye Sheridan) is coming into his powers. The scene is a call-back of sorts to Bryan Singer’s first X-Men film, as I was strongly reminded of Anna Paquin’s Rogue discovering her power for the first time. Scott’s predicament is our segue into Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, which is already thriving, and we see a much happier Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), Jubilee (Lana Condor), and eventually, Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) and Quicksilver (Evan Peters). There are some fun moments with the younger X-Men as Scott finds his place and begins to feel more comfortable with his powers. At the same time, Raven/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) roams the word, saving mutants in unfortunate predicaments, and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) has taken a new identity and remained in hiding.
Meanwhile, Apocalypse’s burial place has been uncovered, and, disappointed with humanity’s development, has decided to eradicate the world and build a better one. To that end, he recruits four followers: Ororo Munroe (Storm), Psylocke (Olivia Munn), Angel (Ben Hardy), and Magneto. And this is really where my problems with the movie begin. Apocalypse’s “horsemen” don’t really get the character development that the young X-Men do. We see that they are treated badly, which gives them sufficient motivation to join Apocalypse, but that’s about it. Apocalypse himself doesn’t get much in the way of development, either – he’s just the big bad, which is a waste of Oscar Isaac’s talent. The movie’s conflict boils down to the same thing it usually does: Magneto wants to do bad things and Xavier wants him to see that humans and mutants can live together peacefully.
I’ve been a fan of the X-Men since I was a teenager – trust me: many years have passed since then – and I really wanted this movie to be great. And there were several enjoyable moments. Although there are some missteps with the character of Quicksilver, the sequence in which he shows off his speed is the highlight of the film. I left the theater glad I had seen the movie, but wishing it had been better.