Since the dawn of civilization, he was worshipped as a god. Apocalypse, the first and most powerful mutant from Marvel’s X-Men universe, amassed the powers of many other mutants, becoming immortal and invincible. Upon awakening after thousands of years, he is disillusioned with the world as he finds it and recruits a team of powerful mutants, including a disheartened Magneto (Michael Fassbender), to cleanse mankind and create a new world order, over which he will reign. As the fate of the Earth hangs in the balance, Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) with the help of Professor X (James McAvoy) must lead a team of young X-Men to stop their greatest nemesis and save mankind from complete destruction.
This film isn’t getting such hot reviews from critics. As a fan of the X-Men movie franchise overall who has never read an X-Men comic, I don’t really understand what the problem is. While this film isn’t as strong as X-Men First Class, I think it’s a pretty good movie overall. It’s a little tropey, and I wish that more characters than Magneto and Xavier actually had any development, but I don’t think it’s any more tropey or less character-focused than any previous movie in the franchise.
The film is set in the 80s, which makes for some really entertaining costume and hair choices. It’s about ten years now after the end of the last film, and Magneto has gone into hiding while Xavier has been running his school for young mutants. Scott Summers (Cyclops) and Jean Grey are introduced here as teenagers learning to control their powers. There’s a small hint of the romance between them that is probably going to develop, and I was glad it wasn’t pushed into some immediate, heavy-handed thing. We also meet a young Kurt Wagner (Nightcrawler). I enjoyed this rendition of Kurt better than the previous one in the film, though I would have liked more backstory for him.
On the villain side, we meet Storm, Angel, and Psylocke. Storm has the most character development here; she’s not really a villain, as most people who know anything about X-Men know. Having her on the villain side for much of the film was at least a different kind of plot. The other two, we barely know anything about (especially Angel, who I think said maybe five sentences during the whole film).
The main villain, Apocalypse, is an ancient mutant who claims to be, essentially, the father of all mutants. He was betrayed in Ancient Egyptian times and has been dug up by archaeologists, and now wants to take his place as rightful ruler. I found him, overall, to be a pretty tired villain. He looks cool, and he’s well-acted, but as a villain he’s just not incredibly interesting. He’s overpowered and full of tropes.
Somewhat predictably, Apocalypse convinces Magneto to join him. Also predictably, Xavier tries to convince Magneto to come to his senses.
Along the way, Moira from First Class is re-introduced, and I didn’t appreciate anything about how she was handled. Xavier has taken away her memories so she doesn’t remember how awful the events of First Class were to live through, but he obviously still loves her, and the awkwardness (and the terrible idea of taking someone’s memories away because Xavier thinks he knows best) is uncomfortable.
Nothing about the plot is very shocking or revealing, but as I said before, I feel like that’s pretty commonplace in X-Men movies. These aren’t psychological thrillers; they’re action movies, and they do that pretty well. Some of the effects in this movie were too outlandish for me to suspend my disbelief, and it suffers from way too much CG, as do many other current films. Also pretty out there were the power levels of Apocalypse and Magneto. I can deal with a lot of overpowered heroes (I read other comics, after all), but it does get to be too much in this film after awhile.
The highlights of this movie for me were Sophie Turner as Jean Grey, Nightcrawler, and Storm. I appreciated the diversity in the cast (though I could still use more).
As a film, it’s pretty enjoyable. Don’t go in it looking for deep story, deep character development, or some amazing meaning. Just go in looking for a good time and a fun, if at times upsetting, X-Men movie.
4 out of 5 stars.