Review: X-Men Apocalypse


Michael Fassbender as Magneto in X-Men: Apocalypse.
Michael Fassbender as Magneto in X-Men: Apocalypse.

AT the end of X-Men: Apocalypse’s near-tiring 144 minute run-time, there was one thing that stood out more than the epic action sequences, snappy quips and entertaining pop culture references.

It was that a talented cast had been wasted.

More characters have been heaped into the latest entry in the X-Men franchise, which means more conflict, more action, more fights – but unlike Captain America: Civil War or the Avengers films, there is less ability to juggle them all.

Here it means a skilled cast standing around for large chunks of time while others spout exposition.

Awakening from an underground Egyptian tomb after thousands of years, powerful mutant Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) is intent on world domination in 1983.

His return coincides with big hair, gaudy clothes and Magneto’s (Michael Fassbender) return to the dark side when his cover in Poland is blown and his wife and child are murdered.

While Apocalypse collects mutant disciples and targets Xavier (James McAvoy) for his powerful abilities, a set of next generation newbies are rallied, including Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), Cyclops (Tye Sheridan) and Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee), for the battle of their lives.

High stakes are implied but rarely felt as Fassbender does a lot of standing with arms raised summoning metal, Olivia Munn serving as set dressing for two hours and Isaac being completely unrecognisable under a tonne of face make-up and voice alteration.

The problem is there are so many characters running around that the audience does not have an opportunity to connect or identify with any of them; much of the substance from past films has been eroded in favour of a generic “family first” sentiment.

One wonders why they didn’t just create CGI characters, along with every other synthetic thing in the film, and free these actors up for other projects.

Given how overblown this one is, it is extremely cheeky for director Singer (who kick-started the franchise) to take a dig in one scene at Brett Ratner’s less successful part three.

Quicksilver (Evan Peters) again is given the best scene, one that is so clever and funny that it is as if all creative energy went into this sole four-minute sequence.

A post-credit sneak peek suggests more stories to come, but can the makers handle more characters?

One may suggest less is more would be a good way to go.

X-Men: Apocalypse (M)

Directed by: Bryan Singer

Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence

Three stars

Review by: Julian Wright

In cinemas now