Bryan Singer directs the latest entry in the X-Men franchise with X-Men Apocalypse, following the first mutant Apocalypse as he aims to bring about change in the world and gathers followers in order to do so while Mystique gathers mutants together to stop him – oh and it’s also set in the 80s. The film stars James McCavoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Oscar Isaac, Nicholas Hoult, Evan Peters, Olivia Munn, Ben Hardy, Kodi-Smitt McPhee, Tye Sheridan, Alexandra Shipp.
As you may expect, Apocalypse is dense, packed with a lot of plot with Apocalypses’ back story, history and ideals as well as a plethora of characters and some welcome re-introduction of popular X-Men characters with some younger, fresh faced actors, namely Alexandra Shipp as Storm, Sophie Turner as Jean Grey, Tye Sheridan as Cyclops and Kodi-Smitt McPhee as Nightcrawler. And the new additions are actually pretty good, they fit well into their roles and bring in some good performances, Sophie Turner as Jean feels like a no brainer and Shipp makes a great younger Storm and so far, the new look X-Men is shaping up quite well. And Smitt-McPhee brings quite a few laughs as a young Nightcrawler, as does the returning Evan Peters as Quicksilver and for a decidedly dark, film with serious themes, there are quite a few nice moments of levity and humour and this helps to balance things out.
And with a fairly large cast, a there are some characters that notably don’t have that much to do which was a shame but probably inevitable for the sake of plot and runtime, though seeing young X-Men interact with each other and just hang out was nice albeit a bit undersold here, taking a back seat to the overall plot, seeing X-Men in the making at Xaviers’ school was great though and I’d love to see more of that in a future instalment.
In terms of acting, none of the new cast necessarily give stellar performances but that task comes down to McCavoy and Fassbender especially who gives a pretty fantastic performance, surprisingly as he’s not the main character but regardless you get to delve into his psyche a bit more and as ever, his relationship with Professor Xavier is an important factor to things. Meanwhile Oscar Isaac does a good enough job playing the larger than life Apocalypse with his booming voice and some believable line delivery, though his physique doesn’t necessarily strike you as intimidating, his demeanour and confidence does make up for that. Apocalypse may ironically be one of the best and weakest parts of the plot, being a mutant so strong that no one can go toe to toe with him which makes him menacing – but at the same time his powers almost feel muted as he’s essentially unmatched, so his horsemen take up a more active role. That being said we do have some pretty good action sequences and a spectacular set piece (as you may have heard) involving Quicksilver that’s a highlight of the film.
The plot isn’t as action packed as you may expect though and this may disappoint some, this isn’t X2 by any means in terms of action but the fights are still well choreographed and seeing mutants that we haven’t seen fight each other on screen was a nice touch. Apocalypse in general may feel a bit muted for some, it’s nothing ground breaking for an X-Men film by any means but it’s also far from terrible. The set pieces are grand and epic, the action is good but certain things are a tad cheesy and telegraphed and Apocalypse himself may just be a bit too strong to make a compelling villain, despite his arguably interesting views/beliefs.
. Good visuals, has some great set pieces
. New young X-Men are actually all pretty good, great casting
. Apocalypse may come across as a bit underwhelming