The ninth instalment in the X-Men film series and the third in director Bryan Singer’s prequel series, X-Men: Apocalypse sees friends and enemies working together in a mutant against mutant war on a thousand-year-old threat to mankind.
Oscar Isaac joins the X-Men franchise as En Sabah Nur, AKA Apocalypse, a thousand year old all-powerful mutant intent on destroying the human world of the 80s and starting afresh with only the strong and powerful left to live in his new world. Professor X, Mystique, and Beast among more of our favourite X-Men, must stop En Sabah Nur before he destroys, well, everything.
It stars James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender once again as the younger versions of mutant frenemies Charles Xavier and Magneto as they find themselves on opposite sides of a fight, only to sort-of reunite at the end. This dynamic might have been exciting if we hadn’t seen it in the last X-Men film, or the one before that.
Also, for a film with the subtitle Apocalypse and a villain who has the powers of a god, I think the film lacked the threat it promised. Yes, entire cities all over the world are catastrophically destroyed with visually impressive effects, but for a big bad who is actually called Apocalypse I thought he’d be more threatening. In hindsight, he didn’t really do much. He can give powers to his four super-powered bodyguards, and he can pretty much do anything with the powers he has. However, he spends a lot of the film sauntering about recruiting mutants like a glorified missionary and preaching about how the world has become weak.
But this is just me thoroughly nit-picking because I did actually enjoy the film. A lot. The scenes where Apocalypse or Magneto or any of the characters showed the full extent of their powers utilised incredible special effects with were depicted as amazing spectacles, if not for their destructive purpose.
However, one of my favourite parts was a scene at the climax of the film where Jean Grey, played by Game of Thrones‘ Sophie Turner, unleashes the full extent of her abilities. Turner played this younger version of Famke Janssen’s Jean from the original films as more fragile and delicate as she does not yet have control over her powers.
It’s this lack of control that undoubtedly saves everyone in the end as Charles urges her to realise her full potential, in the process unleashing The Phoenix. This culminating scene was only short and might have felt a little abrupt, but the 2 minute scene of Jean becoming The Phoenix was better than X-Men: The Last Stand‘s attempt at exploring the Dark Phoenix saga, and that lasted an entire film.
Singer has expressed a desire to explore the Dark Phoenix saga in more depth in future films and I really hope he does since it is probably one of the most iconic and dramatic stories of the X-Men comics.
As they are in every other X-Men film, the mutants are used as a super-powered vessel to represent minorities and their oppression by wider society. Charles is the optimistic activist who believes one day they will have equality in all aspects, whereas Magneto is the tragic anti-hero who holds the position that one will always be superior to the other.
I do appreciate this parallel with real-world issues in equality, but it would be nice to see a film where the X-Men are even a little bit happy or find themselves making some sort of progress in mutant rights. And now I’m invested in the social equality of a group of comic book superheroes.
X-Men: Apocalypse might not be the best addition to the franchise but it is an exciting and exhilarating watch none the less, and I thoroughly look forward to any and every future instalment.