First and foremost, the overview from critics and the lacklustre trailers made me lower expectations for this installment. While I’ve not read many reviews, it was clear the reception was luke-warm, and add to the fact the trailers I found painted a confusing and messy narrative and style, I felt it was a drastic change in the X-Men film series.
I was wrong, thankfully.
I found this far more entertaining than ‘First Class’ and ‘Days Of Future Past’. While the previous two films in this “new generation” era were probably more character based and focussed on real intricate stories, plot-lines and relationships, ‘Apocalypse’ seems to allow the new era of X-Men have some fun in company of great new actors to the series, faithful support from old faces and a far less complex story to follow.
The trailer depicted this as a film where nuclear missiles would be launched in a ‘Terminator’-esque attack on Earth. It also made out Jennifer Lawrence as Mystigue would be our lead hero, with fleeting appearances from others and a whole host of new faces who pop up and show-case their power amidst loads of destructive CGI.
While ever so partly true in respects to the CGI, the rest is quite mis-leading.
James MacAvoy is clearly still our leader, slipping more and more towards the physical and vocal guise of Sir Patrick Stewart as Professor X in perfect style. Michael Fassbender, a stand out performance here more than anyone, returns as Magneto as has a wonderful opening story that makes so much more sense when you see it played out. These two continue their rivalry, but now stand on opposites of new villain – En Sabah Nur, or Apocalypse, played by Oscar Isaac.
Isaac his hidden behind effective prosthetics, make-up and costume to play a wonderfully creepy but tactical mutant hell bent on wiping out man-kind to rebuild civilisation to his vision. He’s merciless, powerful and hypnotically enticing with his softly spoken words of prophecy and effortless power on show. He had me from the start, and he’s certainly been handled well for the big screen, pulling the strings and being the catalyst for old and new X-Men to unite including a not-as-irritating-as-expected Lawrence and ever likeable Nicholas Hoult.
Our new cast playing familiar faces are spot on – Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Alexandra Shipp, Ben Hardy – all playing mutants we will come to know, but do it so well and each have their moment to shine whilst actually playing the character as one to easily like or hate in their situation. They make the future of the series seem fresh and exciting if they continue in this light.
All the cast do great here, and special mention to Evan Peters once more in a stand-out role as uber-80s mutant Quicksilver and Oliva Munn as Psylocke, who is the most delicious looking mutant of all and my new wallpaper on my phone.
The characters make the backbone of the series; you have to invest in their story and I think it’s easy to do so. All paths converge with Apocalypse at the centre, and there is less CGI noise than expected. While the ending veers close to nothing but headache inducing chaos, it manages to hit the brakes to allow the characters to take over the drama and action once the initial set-up is made, which I forgive.
Bryan Singer has directed enough X-Men to know what he’s doing, and I have continued faith in him. There is suitable humour from our young stars, and effective drama from our mature stars. The violence is pretty grim at times and hard-hitting, especially the scenes in Poland. Also, a certain Weapon X cameo is pretty bloody, which is rather refreshing to see.
It’s a visual feast for the eyes with super-powers on show both destructive and defensive, and it really feels like an X-Men film that continues to tie up the Prof X/Magneto arc but sets the path for the new generation to continue on. I for one enjoyed this so much more than I thought I would, and at just under 2.5hrs, it certainly didn’t feel like it unlike ‘Days Of Future Past’ did. Bring on the 90s and the next film, please!