X-Men: Apocalypse is a fun, mesmerizing, mega-mutant masterpiece.
This declaration may fly in the face of most reviews out there panning the film since its recent release, but Tirana calls it like he sees it, and it was, well, quite phenomenal, indeed. Besides mind-bending special effects that include cities across the globe obliterated as Magneto painstakingly disembowels Earth, the film is notable for its many insightful (and fascinating) scenes between the young mutants who will comprise a later incarnation of the X-Men. It’s an absolute joy to watch these burgeoning superheroes discover their powers, interact, and ultimately, bond.
Directed by Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects, X-Men, X2, Superman Returns, X-Men: First Class, X-Men: Days of Future Past) and set in 1983, X-Men: Apocalypse is the ninth installment in the Marvel X-Men film series and centers around the resurrection-awakening of ancient mutant supervillain Apocalypse, and the X-Men’s attempts to defeat his plans to destroy the world.
As always, the most fascinating aspects of X-Men: Apocalypse (and biggest draw for fans) is obviously the infamous X-Men and all the various mutants, and they absolutely kill, literally and figuratively. Michael Fassbender stars as the metal-manipulating Erik Lehnsherr, Magneto; Jennifer Lawrence as the shapeshifting Raven/Mystique; James McAvoy as telepathic mastermind Professor Charles Xavier; Sophie Turner (aka Sansa Stark from Game of Thrones) as omega-telekinetic Jean Grey/Phoenix; Tye Sheridan as laser-focused Scott Summers/Cyclops; Nicholas Hoult as super-intellect Hank McCoy/Beast; Lucas Till as plasma-blaster Alex Summers/Havok; Evan Peters as supersonic Peter Maximoff/Quicksilver; and Kodi Smit-McPhee as teleporting Kurt Wagner/Nightcrawler; among others.
Hugh Jackman appears in a cameo role as beloved, adamantium-clawed anti-hero Logan/Wolverine, who is discovered by Jean Grey, Nightcrawler and Cyclops in an arctic laboratory and brainwashed as Weapon X.
The very first mutant, Apocalypse—aka En Sabah Nur, portrayed masterfully by Oscar Isaac—has survived the millennia by stealing the powers of other mutants through a horrifying Egyptian ceremony enabled by his lieutenants, The Four Horsemen of Apocalypse (cue Metallica’s “The Four Horsemen;” shout out to Dave Mustaine). He enhances the powers of Psylocke (Elizabeth Braddock, played by Olivia Munn), Storm (Ororo Munroe, portrayed by Alexandra Shipp), Angel/Archangel (Warren Worthington III, played by Ben Hardy), and Magneto as his Four Horsemen.
Standouts include Magneto, who reaches into the Earth’s core to carry out Apocalypse’s plans; Nightcrawler, whose teleportation powers are just amazing to watch, as he flashes in and out of anywhere within his sight or anywhere he’s ever been; and Quicksilver, who has become an insanely popular character throughout the franchise, and who is actually Magneto’s son (though the metalhead has no clue).
The audience literally broke out into resounding applause and laughter at the end of one of Quicksilver’s key sequences saving young mutants from an attack on Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. The diehard Rush fan (love it) downs a can of Tab, shoots darts, and even saves a bowl of goldfish while successfully evacuating everyone from sudden death! (Well, maybe not everyone, unfortunately; you’ll just have to watch to learn who.)
Flashbacks throughout the film to earlier installments are also stellar, including a not-so-veiled hit on its third, and a blatant nod to Star Wars (Isaacs did star as Poe Dameron in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, after all, and X-Men: Apocalypse does take place in 1983, when Return of the Jedi was released).
[Partial Spoiler Alert!] Though mutants are for the most part tolerated in the United States, elsewhere across the planet they’re feared and hunted—in East Berlin, for example, captured mutants are forced to battle each other to the death in brutal cage matches. Magneto, who’s been living incognito in Poland until the accidental killings of his wife and daughter (whose powers include communicating with animals), is convinced to join Apocalypse and his band of mutant terrorists before recognizing that he still has family left—Professor X and his fellow mutants. There’s an insane scene where Apocalypse, by amplifying Professor X’s mind-control powers, compels soldiers from every Earthly army possessing nuclear arsenals to deploy their warheads into outer space, thus effectively disarming the entire globe. (Love that part.)
As mentioned earlier, two of X-Men: Apocalypse’s strong points are the scenes showcasing the relationships between its many mutants and their backstories, and those between Jean Grey, Cyclops, and Wolverine are moving and prescient. Fassbender absolutely slays as Magneto, and his are some of the most electrifying scenes in the movie, especially those regarding his life underground and a visit with Apocalypse and his crew to Auschwitz, where his parents were slaughtered and his powers first manifested. Witnessing the emotionally torturous psychic tug of war between Professor Xavier and Apocalypse, and apocalyptic (see what I did there) glimpse of Grey flexing her insane powers during the final scene are singularly well worth the price of admission.
Besides the kick-ass special effects on full display throughout X-Men: Apocalypse, it’s a must-see installment of the super-mutant franchise for the humanistic moments shared between its stars.