x-men: apocalypse

Cook­ing up a Storm

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Reviews -

re­leased OUT NOW! 12a | 143 min­utes Di­rec­tor Bryan singer Cast James Mcavoy, Michael Fass­ben­der, Jen­nifer lawrence, Os­car Isaac, Ni­cholas Hoult

Early on in X-Men: Apocalypse, a group of young mu­tants sneak out of Xavier’s school and take in Re­turn Of The Jedi. Af­ter­wards, dis­cussing the mer­its of the var­i­ous Star Wars movies, they snark that the third movie in a tril­ogy usu­ally sucks. This meta wink can be read as both a veiled dig at X-Men: The Last Stand and a nod to­wards the film they’re in, but thank­fully Apocalypse very much lives up to what has come be­fore it. Build­ing on the ground­work he pro­duced (First Class) and di­rected (Days Of Fu­ture Past), Bryan Singer con­fi­dently con­tin­ues ex­pand­ing his X-uni­verse, pro­duc­ing a thrilling ad­ven­ture that feels both global and in­ti­mate.

Set a decade af­ter Days, it’s yet an­other try­ing time in the lives of poor old Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), Erik “Mag­neto” Len­sh­err (Michael Fass­ben­der), Mys­tique (Jen­nifer Lawrence) and co. That’s the fault of an­cient Egyp­tian mu­tant En Sabah Nur (Os­car Isaac), an in­cred­i­bly pow­er­ful crea­ture who ruled near the Nile un­til some of the en­slaved masses rose up and left him en­tombed. Now, af­ter mil­len­nia have passed, he’s awak­ened, taken a look at the decade that brought us Care Bears and shoul­der pads and de­cided that hu­man civil­i­sa­tion should be re­set. Seems fair.

If there is a real weak­ness, it’s that vil­lain. Whereas the last film set the char­ac­ters against each other in ide­o­log­i­cal terms, here there is a slightly stale scent com­ing off the con­flict, and par­tic­u­larly the Big Bad – and not just be­cause he’s been skip­ping show­ers since the time of the Pharaohs. Look­ing for all the world like a cross be­tween a croc­o­dile and a nov­elty vi­bra­tor, this speechi­fy­ing wannabe god is a clunky me­nace. Isaac, a tal­ented chameleon of an ac­tor, is buried in­side his pros­thet­ics, un­able to punch much life through the la­tex. For­tu­nately, you also have Fass­ben­der’s Mag­neto turn­ing his lat­est fam­ily tragedy into burn­ing rage, seem­ingly happy to put his lone wolf lean­ings aside and fol­low Apocalypse, which once again puts him at odds with our he­roes.

To their credit, Singer and co-writer/pro­ducer Si­mon Kin­berg grasp that the fo­cus should be on the char­ac­ters we know and like or want to meet, and they do a good job of in­dulging those al­ready es­tab­lished (McAvoy brings real charm and cheek­i­ness to Charles, while Evan Peters again steals scenes – and here has more to do – as Quick­sil­ver) and giv­ing the new re­cruits time to shine. Of the added cast, the stand­out is So­phie Turner as the young Jean Grey, handed a spot­light that the Game Of Thrones ac­tress uses to full ef­fect. This means that de­spite the less im­pres­sive threat, Apocalypse more than over­comes the third movie stigma, while still stand­ing as a spec­tac­u­lar film in its own right. Jim Blakey

The Space Port ar­cade is named af­ter one Singer went to as a kid! Visit http://bit.ly/ space­portX to play three X-games.

Carol Kirk­wood’s forecast was way off.

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