X-Men: Apocalypse

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

En Sabah Nur, a powerful mutant believed to be the first of his kind, rules ancient Egypt until he is betrayed by his worshippers, who entomb him alive. His four lieutenants die preserving him. Awakening in 1983, he believes humanity has lost its way without his presence. Aiming to destroy and remake the world, he recruits Cairo pickpocket Ororo Munroe, who can control the weather, and upgrades her power.

In East Berlin, shape-shifting mutant Raven investigates an underground fight club and discovers mutant champion Angel, who possesses a pair of large feathered wings on his back, and Kurt Wagner, who can teleport. Raven rescues Kurt and employs the services of black marketeer Caliban to transport him to America. En Sabah Nur recruits Caliban’s enforcer, Psylocke, who leads him to Angel. En Sabah Nur enhances both their powers, transforming Angel’s wings into metal.

Alex Summers discovers that his younger brother Scott is manifesting a mutation for shooting optic beams. Alex takes Scott to Professor Charles Xavier’s educational institute in Westchester County, New York, hoping that Xavier and Hank McCoy will teach him to control his abilities. Scott meets the telepathic and telekinetic Jean Grey, and the two develop an attraction. Raven brings Kurt to the institute. En Sabah Nur’s powers cause disturbances around the world, leading Xavier and Alex to consult with CIA agent Moira MacTaggert, who has been researching the legend of Nur.

In Communist Poland, the metal-controlling mutant Erik Lehnsherr lives with his wife and their young daughter, Nina. He uses his powers to save a coworker, prompting the militia to capture him. When they murder Erik’s family, he retaliates by executing them. En Sabah Nur later approaches the devastated Erik and takes him to Auschwitz, where Erik’s power first manifested. Erik destroys the camp and joins him.

En Sabah Nur remotely accesses Cerebro, a brainwave-amplifying device Xavier uses to locate mutants. Through it, he forces the telepathic Xavier to make the global superpowers launch their entire nuclear arsenals into space to prevent interference with En Sabah Nur’s plan. He and his new lieutenants arrive at the mansion and kidnap Xavier. Attempting to stop them, Alex accidentally causes an explosion that destroys the mansion. Peter Maximoff, having learned that he is Erik’s son and hoping that Xavier can help to find him, arrives just in time; he uses his super-speed to evacuate the students before the explosion destroys the building, but Alex is presumed dead. Colonel William Stryker’s forces subsequently capture Hank, Raven, Peter, and Moira, and take them to a military facility for interrogation. Scott, Jean and Kurt follow covertly, and liberate their comrades using Stryker’s mind-controlled and brainwashed experiment Weapon X, whose memories Jean partially restores.

At En Sabah Nur’s behest, Erik uses his powers to control the Earth’s magnetic poles, causing death and destruction across the planet. En Sabah Nur plans to transfer his consciousness into Xavier’s body, and use Xavier’s power to enslave every person on earth. Xavier secretly sends a telepathic distress call to Jean, and the others travel to Cairo to battle Apocalypse (En Sabah Nur) and his horsemen. They rescue Xavier, but he loses his hair as the process nears completion. Angel is defeated and incapacitated in the battle. Erik and Ororo are persuaded to turn on En Sabah Nur and, with the help of Scott, they keep him occupied physically while Xavier fights him telepathically in the astral plane. Finally, Xavier encourages Jean to unleash the full extent of her powers, incinerating En Sabah Nur, killing him for good. In the ensuing chaos, Psylocke flees.

Xavier and Moira rekindle their relationship. Erik and Jean help reconstruct the school, but Erik refuses Xavier’s offer to stay and help teach. Peter decides not to tell Erik yet that he is Erik’s son. Hank and Raven train new X-Men recruits Scott, Jean, Ororo, Kurt and Peter.

In a post-credits scene, men in suits visit the Weapon X facility to retrieve data on Stryker’s mutant research, including an X-ray and a blood sample marked “Weapon X”, on behalf of the Essex Corporation.

REVIEW:

Bryan Singer is the man who brought the X-Men to the big screen way back in 2000 and many give him credit for jump starting the superhero movie boom (though I’m sure Blade has a solid case). Now that he’s back, expectations are high for X-Men: Apocalypse. Does this film live up to those lofty expectations? Let’s find out!

What is this about?

Bearing the ominous moniker of Apocalypse, a legendary mutant comes to life after thousands of years and resolves to impose an oppressive new world order. With humanity’s fate at stake, the X-Men team prepares for an all-or-nothing showdown.

What did I like?

80s. As a child of the 80s, of course I’m going to be a little partial to films that are set in that era. The fashions, the music, even a marquee featuring Return of the Jedi and characters talking about Empire Strikes Back (with a slight jab at X-Men: The Last Stand). This could have very well been set in modern day, but I don’t it would have worked as well. Same goes for if it was set in the near future.

Be gentle, it’s my first time. We’ve seen Professor X, Magneto, Beast, Mystique, etc. on-screen plenty of times, but this is the first time for the likes of Psylocke, Archangel, Apocalypse, etc. There are literally hundreds of X-Men, we don’t need to keep seeing the same handful. Now, its up for debate about whether these characters were any good, but hey, give them time and we’ll see what they can do.

Foreshadowing. There is a scene where Professor Xavier is fighting Apocalypse on the astral plane and he calls in Jean Grey, a telekinetic in her own right, for reinforcements. When she engages in the battle we are treated to her full power and the energy around her is shaped like a bird…a phoenix, it would see. If this is foreshadowing for a future film based on the Dark Phoenix saga, I’m all for it (hopefully they’ll do it right, this time). If not, then it was just a nice visual easter egg.

What didn’t I like?

Loss of power. My first introduction to Apocalypse was in the 90s X-Men animated series, where he was portrayed as a true being of unspeakable power. Since then, from what I’ve read in the comics, he’s only gotten more powerful. While he does have a fair amount of power, I never felt like he was nigh unstoppable. Basically, he was just a step above Magneto. This is a guy that was supposedly there at the very beginning and his power theoretically grows every year, so why does he feel so unintimidating? Maybe it is the Ivan Ooze look they gave him?

Phoning it in. To be honest, I’ve never been a fan of the way Mystique has been portrayed on film. Don’t get me wrong, a half naked Rebecca Romijn or Jennifer Lawrence is perfectly fine, but the paint and scales, not so much. With Lawrence, she just looks like she’s wearing blue grease paint and doesn’t seem comfortable in the role. Also, it seems as if the bigger her star has become, the less interested she has been in playing this role. Many other critics and reviewers have said it, but she looks like she is just in this for the paycheck and to honor her contract. There is no enthusiasm or life in her performance. If we get another film with this universe, she either needs to step it up or the directors need to find someone else who gives a damn!

Too soon? I know we’re like 9 movies into the X-Men franchise, but it was recently rebooted with X-Men: First Class. This brings me to question whether it is too soon to bring in a major foe such as Apocalypse in, at least without more of a buildup. The average movie goer knows little to nothing about Apocalypse, and that’s if they took a few minutes to read some Wikipedia articles on him. I don’t know. I guess part of me is just wishes they would have gone with another adversary like the Hellfire Club or the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants while the seeds were planted for a big Apocalypse entrance. Instead we get a story involving a villain that we have no connection to, other than a quick backstory at the beginning of the film.

Final verdict on X-Men: Apocalypse? Well, it gave us an X-Men story that wasn’t reliant on Wolverine, so there is that. The new versions of Jean, Cyclops, Storm, Nightcrawler, etc. aren’t given anything to really endear themselves to the audience or make us forget Halle Berry, Famke Jensen, James Marsden, etc. The action is engaging and the effects are what you have come to expect from this franchise. So, do I recommend it? Yes, but this is not the best film in the franchise, so keep that in mind. Still, it is worth watching once or twice, so there you go.

4 out of 5 stars

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