May 20, 2016 6:21:33 pm
This is officially the seventh film in the X-Men series, not counting Deadpool, also a satellite (and now a veritable star) in the franchise’s universe. This is Singer’s fourth X-Men, of which the third was a sequel to two films separated by a film in the middle, none of which Singer had directed.
All that is to say that unless you are a diehard X-Men fan unconcerned about the theory of natural progression, just be thankful that at least some of the faces are repeated from the last film, even as newer characters get introduced. The last film was Days Of Future Past, also directed by Singer.
Continuing with the strength of this franchise, Apocalypse ensures each of the mutant characters gets a solemn, credible background. In the midst of times and elections where it is difficult to be “the other”, the film makes a subtle point about what it is like to find oneself in such shoes.
As it goes about setting current and future X-Men up for battle against Apocalypse (Issac) — who has risen from 4th-Century Egypt into 1983 (when the film is set) — Singer’s story and Simon Kinberg’s screenplay also make a respectable effort towards establishing what makes leaders such as him so charismatic.
Considered the “first mutant”, who has been acquiring powers over millennia, “transferring consciousness” from one body to another, Apocalypse aka En Sabah Nur talks about “false gods”, “blind leaders” and “the systems” destroying the world. He promises his fellow mutants — who are making a living hiding their powers in dark alleys, unless welcomed into his sun-dappled, luxurious boarding school by McAvoy’s do-gooder Professor Xavier — a chance to realise “their full potential”, and “the dawn of a new age”. At one point, Nur takes care of the world’s nukes in one go, for a reason that remains disconcertingly unexplained.
The sequence with Eric/Magneto (Fassbender) is the best, where he is leading a warm pastoral life with a wife and daughter when the sudden realisation of his powers brings Poland’s conformist Communist police to his doorstep. It ends in heartbreak, a sad feeling for a film of such nature.
The younger mutants, whether telepathic Jean (Turner), ‘Nightcrawler’ Kurt (Smit-McPhee), ‘Cyclops’ Scott (Sheridan) and especially ‘Quicksilver’ Peter (Peters), are the more entertaining lot of Apocalypse though. In a film often weighed too much down by its own sense of gravity, they are the only ones able to see the lighter side of things. On the other hand, Lawrence as Raven or Mystique bears a frown for the length of the film. It’s also odd to see her being lumped along with the older mutants as she could have done wonders in the younger bunch.
It’s when all is said about the characters and the film gets into the second half where they must clash as part of “the end of the world” that Singer loses control. The action is confusing with so many using their mutant powers at the same time, and too prolonged. The shimmery, jiggly magnetic film that Magneto stirs up is the most visually appealing in the fight that includes the world being blown up, literally, without any bodies to show for it.
However, the highlight of the action sequences remains a poor spin-off of Singer’s own Days Of Future Past. Quicksilver, faster than time, again rushes about moving things around to safety just before a big explosion. Still, as the delightful Peters does it to the sound of Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This), you can’t help but hum.
Directed by Bryan Singer
Starring James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Oscar Issac, Rose Byrne, Evan Peters, Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, Kodi Smit-McPhee
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