En Sabah Nur (Oscar Isaac) is the world’s first mutant. He has the ability to transfer his consciousness into new bodies, essentially allowing him to live forever. As he enters the new body, he acquires that body’s powers, adding to his mutant power arsenal. While attempting one such attempt in ancient Egypt, the transfer was interrupted, leaving En Sabah Nur in a state of suspended animation.
After the events in 1973 where Magneto (Michael Fassbender) was stopped by Raven (Jennifer Lawrence), more and more mutants are coming forward and going to Professor Charles Xavier’s (James McAvoy) School for Gifted Children. Among them are Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), Scott Summers (Tye Sheridan), Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee), and Quicksilver (Evan Peters).
When En Sabah Nur is awakened, Charles Xavier and his mutants begin their quest to find and stop him. However, En Sabah Nur has his own mutants working to help him take over the world.
X-Men: Apocalypse rounds out the latest “young X-Men” trilogy. At one point, a group of Xavier’s students are seen leaving a movie theater. Jean remarks, “We all know the third movie is the worst.” This comment should set your expectations for the film. It is just a little too on point. It’s as if they knew they were making a bad film and used this brief moment to excuse themselves.
Apocalypse starts off a little too ambitiously. There are so many mutants running around, it is hard to keep track of everyone. On top of that, we are given a very abridged origin story for every character. With most of them, you either know the backstory from the other films, or you simply don’t care. There is even a brief origin cameo that has been addressed so many times, it’s like telling us how Bruce Wayne became Batman for the eighteenth time.
On top of that, we are given the same cast of mutants we’ve seen in every other X-Men film: Xavier, Magneto, Raven/Mystique, Jean, Cyclops, Beast (Nicholas Hoult), Nightcrawler, and Storm (Alexandra Shipp). While this adds familiarity to the movie, we’ve seen them so many times now. We know what they can do. They use the same tricks every time. If they want to continue the X-Men franchise, they should take a note from the Avengers and add some fresh blood to the team.
The only new additions are bad guys En Sabah Nur/Apocalypse and Psylocke (Olivia Munn). Apocalypse comes across almost ineffectual, unable to really do anything without the assistance of his mutant baddie friends.
Director Bryan Singer seems to be trying to find a balance between the grimness of Batman v. Superman and the levity of the Avengers. He never really captures the sweet spot he is looking for. Quicksilver is used as the primary source of comic relief. While he has a few funny moments, many of his scenes are sight gags which, ironically, go on too long. With everyone else pretty much taking the film very seriously, the film comes off uneven and sloppily paced.
Fortunately, the action starts quickly and continues throughout most of the film. It is fast and furious. Sometimes it is a bit too fast and too furious, though. It gets hard to keep track of what is going on and who is fighting whom. It’s almost as if they’re trying to distract you from the story. And, unlike Batman v. Superman and Captain America: Civil War, the global-level collateral damage (which is higher in this film than the other two franchises combined) is never even addressed.
Trying too hard to fit the prequel trilogy into the time line of the original films, while at the same time ignoring events and time lines of the most recent film, X-Men: Apocalypse is a messy, unbalanced movie. Many of the scenes are too graphic and intense for its PG-13 rating. I almost feel it is more of a soft R. If you are a die-hard X-Men fan, you will probably enjoy Apocalypse. Otherwise, it’s just not up to par.
There is a post-credits scene that potentially sets up the next Wolverine sequel.