As far as superhero franchises go, the X-Men franchise is one of the most enduring. Having revitalized the brand a few years ago by taking the plot back a few decades and recasting younger actors in already established roles and carefully introducing new characters into the X-Men movie universe, the films have thrived. But we’re now onto the third film with key players James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence and Nicholas Hoult, and things are feeling less fresh. And with a title like ‘X-Men: Apocalypse,’ you might fear its time to blow up the universe again, but that’s not the case here, while the plot may suggest otherwise.
Once again at the heart of the story is the long-running faith in humanity debate. McAvoy’s Professor Xavier is the optimistic idealist, trying to get through to his old pal Erik Lehnsherr, who has more reason than ever to turn on the human race. In the decade since the last film, the erstwhile Magneto has relocated, found peace with a wife and young daughter and a community that has embraced him, though unaware of his mutant powers. But when a slip-up saving a co-workers life alerts the police and inadvertently leads to a tragic loss in his life, he’s ripe for the picking by a supreme mutant being recently returned and looking to take over the world.
This being, known as Apocalypse (and played by a virtually unrecognizable Oscar Isaac), is believed to have been the first mutant and responsible for catastrophic carnage throughout history. Typically accompanied by four defenders, Apocalypse pulls in a pre-X-Men Storm (Alexandra Shipp), the enforcer Psylocke (Olivia Munn), a defeated winged warrior Angel (Ben Hardy) and Magneto to ultimately do his bidding. Seeking to be all powerful, Apocalypse puts his sights on Professor Xavier when he realizes he can consume his ability to be in contact with all mutants.
With Xavier captured by Apocalypse and his henchmen, it’s up to a rag-tag crew of X-Men to save the day. Led by Mystique (Lawrence), Beast (Hoult), the recently returned Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne) and new students Quicksilver (Evan Peters), Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), Cyclops (Tye Sheridan) and Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee), the adventure is on.
As with most X-Men films, the visuals are stunning, the stunts are visually appealing and the action keeps you on the edge of your seat. There are also a few line and sight gags to make the hardcore fans and passive followers chuckle equally and several reveals that add to the X-Menmythology. However, the big bad Apocalypse almost felt like more of a plot device to force the oft-revisited mutant prejudice and acceptance debate that has been a constant throughout many of the X-Men films.
While it’s not on par with the other films featuring the newer cast, X-Men: Apocalypse does provide moviegoers with an enjoyable couple of hours of action and adventure. However, with the core cast contracts up and a film viewed by some as relying on old tropes, it could be time to infuse theX-Men universe with some fresh blood and new ideas.
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Posted by: Ari Coine