X-Men: Apocalypse is the sequel to X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Days of Future Past. This is also the first official movie in the now rebooted timeline following the latter movie. So now what is old is now new again. Many of the stalwarts who appeared in the previous two movies such as Professor Xavier, Magneto, Mystique, Beast, Quicksilver, Havok and Moira MacTaggert appear once again. They are now joined by the younger versions of Cyclops, Jean Grey and Storm. Of course there is the introduction of the titular villain, Apocalypse. This movie can be seen as the close of one trilogy and also the beginning of another saga.
The movie picks up a decade after Days of Future Past and things are at an all time high for mutants. However, an ancient mutant En Sabah Nur aka Apocalypse returns and is here to not only challenge humans but mutants as well. Disgusted by what the world has come, he decides that it needs a “cleanse” and with his Four Horseman, he threatens to bring that about. Oscar Isaac plays the titular villain and brings a unique presence. The X-Men movies have only had two types of villains: mutant supremacist and mutant hating humans. Apocalypse is a new kind of villain as he really doesn’t care for either world view and instead wants to rule all who survive. Oscar Isaac shows Apocalypse as someone who is charistmatic and powerful but can also be sadistic and unnerving when he needs to be.
Of the returning cast, Nicolaus Holt as Hank McCoy/Beast is probably the most underused. He does get some time to shine but he is mostly sort of just there. Evan Peters as Peter Maximoff/Quicksilver gets more to do than his previous outing. His whole story arc revolves around finding purpose in his life and that maybe it can come along if he can reveal to Magneto that he is the man’s son. Rose Byrne who sat Days of Future Past returns and has not missed a beat since her character’s last appearance. She shines especially with McAvoy as Xavier. Michael Fassbender as Erik Lensherr/Magneto finds his character at a different place in his life when introduced to him. However after an incident he quickly returns to his old ways and is unfortunately left to stand around and do nothing for the most part. Jennifer Lawrence as Raven Darkholme/Mystique is bland. She doesn’t necessarily phone in her performance but there is something left to be desired. James McAvoy as Charles Xavier really shines in this movie. We see many sides to his character. He is the caring teacher/father figure to his student, love struck and giddy with Moira and fearful of Apocalypse. By the end of the movie, the character of Xavier has come full circle as the true leader of the X-Men.
The new students also popped. When these movies continue they are certainly in good hands. Tye Sheridan as Scott Summers/Cyclops really shined. Cyclops was probably the most underused character in the previous movies. Here we really see how this teenager who is at first rebellious but we start to see how he will become the leader of the team. Sophie Turner as Jean Grey shows how she is afraid of her powers that she does not fully understand but can be a force to be reckoned with. Kodi Smit McPhee as Kurt Wagner/Nightcrawler brings a much needed levity but also shows how deadly a teleporter can be. Alexandra Shipp as Ororo Munroe/Storm is the only one who doesn’t get that much to do. Though she does make the best of her scenes.
The movie does have its flaws though. The movie seemingly takes an unneeded detour to the Weapon X facility just to have a cameo from Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. It really seems that this sequence could have been cut and had the same outcome. The end action sequence is also fairly anticlimatic. You can really tell that it’s just a battle on a green screen set. It’s not exactly boring but it does have a feeling of “been there/done that”. Frankly that seems to be the problem with the movie in general. It is good but there really isn’t anything really new to make it pop either.
X-Men: Apocalypse is a good film. There is no questions about that. Is it a great film or a terrible film? Those can be debated. However, I found myself enjoyed throughout the movie. The future of the series leaves me more excited though. The movie ends on a perfect note that leaves me wanting more. We will see as to how the X-Men film series continues to evolve.