X-Men: Apoca­lypse

HK Magazine - - FILM - Adam White

(USA) Ac­tion. Di­rected by Bryan Singer. Star­ring

James McAvoy, Michael Fass­ben­der, Jen­nifer Lawrence, Os­car Isaac. 145 min­utes. Cat­e­gory IIA. Opened May 15. It’s hard to be­lieve, but the first “X-Men” movie was re­leased in July 2000—al­most 16 years ago. Since then we’ve had the orig­i­nal tril­ogy, two Wolver­ine movies, the phe­nom­e­nally suc­cess­fully Dead­pool—and a sec­ond tril­ogy, which comes to an end with “X-Men: Apoca­lypse.” But should the “X-Men” world end with “Apoca­lypse”?

Here’s the setup: Teenager Scott Sum­mers (Tye Sheridan) is find­ing pu­berty harder than most, as it seems to have man­i­fested via the medium of red en­ergy beams ex­plod­ing from his eyes. He’s taken to Xavier’s School for Gifted Young­sters, where Pro­fes­sor Xavier (James McAvoy) bal­ances be­ing debonair with pas­toral du­ties for a school of 100 kids go­ing through mutant pu­berty—es­pe­cially Jean Grey

(So­phie Turner, aka Sansa from “Game of Thrones”), who might be a still more pow­er­ful telepath than Xavier him­self.

Mean­while, Raven Darkholme aka Mys­tique (Jen­nifer Lawrence) has be­come a globe-trot­ting vig­i­lante mutant sav­ior, trav­el­ing the world to free mu­tants held in cap­tiv­ity.

Mean­while (part 2), Mag­neto (Michael Fass­ben­der) seems to have fi­nally found hap­pi­ness in Poland, where he lives in hid­ing with his wife and young daugh­ter… un­til it all goes wrong and he’s con­sumed with the need for vengeance.

Mean­while (part 3), A group of cultists have un­earthed the rest­ing place of En Sabah Nur aka Apoca­lypse (a hammy Os­car Is­sac), the world’s first mutant, who is able to trans­fer his con­scious­ness be­tween bod­ies to en­sure his im­mor­tal­ity. Apoca­lypse wakes up from cen­turies of sleep and de­cides that he’s got to make the world a better place—by de­stroy­ing it, nat­u­rally.

That’s just the begin­ning, and the above sum­mary glosses over at least other six char­ac­ters who get a chunk of at­ten­tion. With so much work be­ing put into set­ting up or de­vel­op­ing its char­ac­ters, this film’s su­per­power isn’t a tight run­time.

Still, “Apoca­lypse” de­liv­ers on its bangs and thrills.

Ac­tion and ef­fects are strong and the film is uni­formly wellacted, de­spite the oc­ca­sional clunky line. But it’s a lit­tle too re­liant on what’s gone be­fore. The stand­out scene in pre­vi­ous movie “Days of Fu­ture Past” was when speed­ster Quick­sil­ver (Evan Peters) plugged him­self into an iPod and su­per-speeded all over a room while time seemed to stand still. Di­rec­tor Bryan Singer has ob­vi­ously de­cided that you can’t get too much of a good thing, and so the slow-mo se­quence re­turns in “Apoca­lypse,” with a better sound­track too. It’s great fun, but there’s noth­ing very orig­i­nal about it.

Still, that’s for­giv­able: You’d be hard-pressed to find a stu­dio that wouldn’t want to recre­ate the money shot. The main prob­lem with “Apoca­lypse” lies in its char­ac­ter arcs. It’s the in­evitable risk you run with so many char­ac­ters: It’s hard to de­velop them all equally, and in this movie they un­wisely skimp on Fass­ben­der’s Mag­neto.

This tril­ogy has shone thanks to McAvoy and Fass­ben­der, who have worked to build the unique re­la­tion­ship of their char­ac­ters and their op­pos­ing philoso­phies. Mag­neto’s arc in this movie starts strong but it fiz­zles by the fi­nal act, lead­ing to an un­con­vinc­ing res­o­lu­tion. A good Mag­neto is es­sen­tial to a good “X-Men” flick, and that’s this movie’s apoca­lypse. You’d think that 16 years on, they’d have worked that out.

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