X-Men: Apocalypse has finally arrived! The third installment in Bryan Singer's X-Men prequels has hit cinema screens, but does it live up to its potential? Read our spoiler free review to find out
When it comes to superhero movies, it's safe to say that we trust Bryan Singer. X-Men: Apocalypse is the third installment in Singer's X-Men prequels, and while reviews have not been especially kind, it is not a bad film. It contains moments of unity and badassery which is what makes us love the X-Men films, but certain key characters are not always given their due, and sadly that includes our highly anticipated supervillain. While it's refreshing to lead the franchise away from the humans vs. mutants theme which we're all so familiar with, it falls short from reaching its full potential.
The prologue to the film can also be seen as Bryan Singer's homage to Rolan Emmerich's 1994 Stargate, as we see En Sabah Nur's (a.k.a. Apocalypse) power being prepared to pass to the next chosen body. Accompanied by his Four Horsemen at the time, his powers are transferred to Oscar Isaac's character, and he then becomes the new Apocalypse. What is unfortunate about this transference of power is that we have very little back story to Oscar Isaac's character apart from the knowledge of his abilities. This lack of exploration into a character's history is, unfortunately, a running theme throughout some of the film's key players.
The gathering of the Horsemen, while greatly anticipated, loses momentum as they come to Ben Hardy's Archangel and especially Olivia Munn's Psylocke. Her character in particular had so much of an exciting build up towards the film's release, but it is unfortunately swallowed up without ever really being able to see the full extent of her incredibly cool abilities. We're hoping that a future X-Men film will see Psylocke return with more lines, and longer fight scenes. Alexandra Shipp's Storm on the other hand, is acquired by Apocalypse in a touching way, and therefore we were invested in her character from beginning to end. Michael Fassbender's Magneto is given a storyline that is so wonderfully written and acted, that at times you wonder if Apocalypse is aiding his cause rather than the other way around.
Let's talk about the main event of the film, Apocalypse. Oscar Isaac superbly plays the supervillain, the make-up takes nothing away from his expressions, and his voice is booming and almighty. Bryan Singer recently addressed fans' concerns regarding Apocalypse's appearance and we can say that we were impressed. There were moments where he didn't use his full potential as much as he could have (in terms of his ability to grow to enormous size), but when he did, it led to a poignant moment of the weak overcoming the strong. Size isn't everything, folks.
After coming back into the 'present day', Apocalypse gives himself a lesson on what the world's been up to since he's been gone, which results in a reaction similar to that of Luc Besson's Leeloo in The Fifth Element. And like Leeloo, he was understandably left with the feeling that humans are foolish, and someone needs to step in. His plan comes dangerously close to completion and at times you hope that he succeeds just because it would be so damn cool to watch. Unfortunately Apocalypse suffered the curse of a supervillain who's given a slightly disappointing second act and is at times overshadowed by Magneto.
Tye Sheridan as Cyclops has an introduction that fits perfectly into the franchise and the film as we see him using his abilities for the first time. In fact all of the newcomers are given great promise for future movies to come. Sophie Turner offers us a Jean Grey who is still mastering her own abilities, and is at times afraid of her own power, but she is given a great character arc which steals the show. Nightcrawler is just like we hoped he would be; sweet, helpful, damaged and, provides the comedic element when it is most needed. Quicksilver has a satisfying sequel to the sequence that kept us talking in X-Men: Days of Future Past, however they might have milked that trick a bit too much as the film moves into its second half.
Raven appears in her true, blue form, but not nearly as much as we would like. Yes we know Jennifer Lawrence isn't a fan of the blue make-up, but seeing Raven covering her natural form seems contradictory to her character. The same can be said for Nicholas Hoult's Beast. Especially since he's a professor in a school with other mutants who are encouraged to be themselves. Having him not showing his true form again, seems quite unrealistic and counter-productive.
Overall, while X-Men: Apocalypse repeats themes seen a (tedious) number of times, and loses focus on its supervillain, it reintroduces the younger members of the X-Men in a way that adds depth to their characters and it takes an interesting stance by removing Charles from a position of power. It gives the audience what it wants but it falls short of taking a step in a braver direction. What did you make of X-Men: Apocalypse?