SPOILER-FREE REVIEW: X-Men: Apocalypse
X-Men: Apocalypse should be Fox’s last gasp with the First Class team of mutants, er, actors.
Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, and other, lesser stars align again, this time in the ’80s! Don’t you…forget about them…I’ll be alone…watching this movie on cable in two years.
Unlike the badness of Batman v Superman, Apocalypse is a movie of lost potential. Primarily this movie failed in using its chief bad guy.
Oscar Isaac blandly plays Apocalypse, an immortal mutant, the original mutant, capable of transferring consciousness into anyone, but only if the sun lights up Tron lines leading to a transference chamber inside an enormous pyramid.
We see this process occur in an overlong sequence that shows why he’s gone missing for five millennia. The sun reawakens him before fawning acolytes. Not long after Apocalypse wakes up, because he’s now a man of our world, he watches TV.
If that sounds like a miscarriage of his powers, imagine a whole movie like that. For some reason Apocalypse likes having four helpers, a Gang of Four, if you will. Isaac, unrecognizable as Apocalypse, spends far too much time gathering his flock.
Apocalypse’s revolution will be televised AND catastrophic.
The following are some of Apocalypse’s powers displayed during the movie: melding people into walls, absorbing all human languages through a single television screen, teleportation, total control of matter.
Despite all these powers, the film designs to show us Storm’s imbuement and Magneto’s fourth or fifth designs at killing all humanity.
Apocalypse is immortal and, thanks to a trip inside Cerebro via Charles Xavier’s mind, omnipotent. He is literally a god. That’s not just his ego talking. But we can barely tell, because he’s more interested in using his underlings.
Which brings me to the biggest undersight of the film: Jean Grey. Sophie Turner plays the troubled telepath as flatly as a movie screen. Turner is only 20 years old, perhaps too young to play a character of immense range and power like Jean Grey.
Yet it’s Jean Grey who unleashes her powers, and not the capable Isaac as Apocalypse. This is one of many oversights and misdirections.
For example, Major Stryker (the villain of X2) arrives at Xavier’s school to capture some mutants and flee from a released Wolverine. There was no reason for any of this overlong sequence, one as unnecessary as CIA agent Moira Mactaggart (Rose Byrne), who didn’t even appear in Days of Future Past.
The good stuff: Fassbender steals the movie. Time and again he elevates scenes from passable to meaningful, especially during a showdown in the woods with police and his destruction of Auschwitz.
Evan Peters brings boyish charm to a moody fight that echoes the debut of Spider-Man in Captain America: Civil War. Quicksilver delivers another everybody-but-he-is in super slow motion that certainly tops his debut in the previous mutant film.
The Wolverine continues to be the most interesting X-Men movie solely because its storyline does not involve the end of the world. More of these, please.
Exploder viewing guide: See it on Blu-Ray.