X-MEN: APOCALYPSE marks the third cinematic outing for young Professor X and Co., and this time it’s back to the 80s for another helping of mutant movie magic. It’s a great way to round out what I think is the best X-Men trilogy so far; it’s fast-paced and exciting, and features all my favourite characters when they’re younger and just starting their journey to becoming the most powerful mutants the world has ever seen.
The previous two films in this revamped trilogy, First Class and Days of Future Past, have had moderately small budgets for a franchise of this popularity, but APOCALYPSE ramps that up a notch, and, as a result, delivers some fantastic fight scenes and super cool set pieces. Everything seems generally bigger and on a more epic scale this time around, whether it be the opening sequence in Egypt, the attack on Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters or the final showdown atop a landscape reduced to rubble.The scope is wider, the action is more memorable and the cast is larger than I expected — all these changes become apparent right from the start, and APOCALYPSE is a better film as a result.
Speaking of the cast, all the main players are back, plus several new faces tasked with taking on familiar roles. Although older Magneto (Ian McKellen) and Xavier (Patrick Stewart) are nowhere to be seen, APOCALYPSE does just fine without them, with James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender once again carrying the film and bringing new depths to Xavier and Magneto in their younger years. I was initially apprehensive about Jennifer Lawrence’s larger role as Raven/Mystique, but she isn’t over-used and actually gives a fairly decent performance as the blue beauty. She compliments the newcomers well, particularly in shared scenes with Tye Sheridan as Scott Summers and Sophie Turner as Jean Grey, even though the latter’s acting does seem overly wooden at times. By far the best is Kodi Smit-McPhee as Nightcrawler and Evan Peters as Quicksilver — both give excellent performances and really stand out in what could have ended up as an overcrowded mess of mutant mayhem. Luckily, Nightcrawler looks and sounds so much better than I expected, and Quicksilver is the lucky owner of the best scene in the whole film. To say he’s entertaining is an understatement!
Apocalypse works well as a villain, being both menacing and visually threatening. Initial trailers didn’t fill me with confidence, but he makes for a worthy enemy and doesn’t look as bad as I feared. Oscar Isaac is almost unrecognisable, and, had I now known it was him beforehand, I certainly wouldn’t have pegged him as the man behind the world’s first mutant. Psylocke (Olivia Munn), Storm (Alexandra Shipp) and Angel (Ben Hardy) also provide a reasonable amount of threat, and Psylocke easily wins the award for most absurd outfit. I’m not entirely sure what the costume designers were thinking with that one, but it looks like beach wear gone horribly wrong!
APOCALYPSE is a thoroughly entertaining film from start to finish, with a couple of welcome surprises, a brilliant score by John Ottman and a clever tie to the original X-Men trilogy. A talented cast and a plethora of interesting, well-loved characters make for a very enjoyable viewing experience, and I urge everyone to ignore negative reviews and go and see what is now in my top five films of the year so far. It’s easily my favourite instalment of the new trilogy, and I daresay it could give X-Men 2 a run for its money. This is great stuff from Bryan Singer, and I hope he and the cast get the opportunity to revisit the X-Men and continue what is one of the best superhero series out there!