Cooking up a Storm
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.