Missing the X factor
X-MEN: APOCALYPSE (M)
Director: Bryan Singer (X-Men) Starring: Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, James McAvoy, Oscar Isaac, Sophie Turner, Nicholas Hoult, Olivia Munn Verdict: End of days, and a daze that never ends
IS X-Men: Apocalypse the worst-ever film to carry the venerated X-Men brand? Perhaps not.
Is X-Men: Apocalypse the dullest of the whole lot? Absolutely. It did not have to be this way. But after opening with a corny, collapsing-pyramid flashback that looks like a deleted scene from the February flop Gods of Egypt, the die is cast. (And oh, how the cast dies a slow and meaningless collective death here. More about them later).
Anyway, after watching thousands of computer-generated slaves get crushed to death by styrofoam bricks, we pole-vault in time to 1983.
The sole survivor of the big crash has just woken up from a 5500-year coma. His name is Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac), and this super-powered supreme deity is most displeased with what has become of the world while he was sleeping.
(If Apocalypse took a glance in the mirror, he’d be even more cheesed off with the X-Men makeup department. He is very blue, and tragi-comically butt-ugly. Not unlike the love child of a Smurf and a theatre-restaurant Frankenstein).
After recruiting a few like-minded mutants – including Olivia Munn’s Psylocke, whose ‘gift’ seems to be buying bad cosplay outfits online – Apocalypse’s next move is to fire every nuclear missile on the planet into deep space.
Is this guy supposed to an archvillain, or is he pressing for preselection as a Greens candidate at the next election?
Sadly, we will never know. Mainly because X-Men: Apocalypse keeps overstuffing its many underdeveloped characters into any scene it can. Most active participants are on the anti-Apocalypse team of Professor X (James McAvoy), and are following his say-so because they either work with him (Nicholas Hoult as Beast) or study at his school (Sophie Turner as Jean Grey).
When the Prof isn’t theatrically pressing his temples and squinting, he will remind you repeatedly that his old pal Magneto (Michael Fassbender) isn’t as bad a fellow as everyone says.
To further emphasise this wellworn point, Magneto is shown pensively taking a scenic tour of Auschwitz, which could be the most ill-judged scene you’ll see in a superhero picture this decade. Particularly after he joins up with Apocalypse and starts wiping out whole cities.
Delivering decent work in such dire circumstances just isn’t possible. Nevertheless, that doesn’t excuse the disinterested performances of the film’s two biggest stars, Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence (as Raven/Mystique), which can only be described as ‘contractually constipated’.
They are honour-bound to show up for every scene as requested. But they’re not going to convince anyone they actually care.