The X-Men franchise had become dull and monotonous, the Wolverine standalone failed to offer anything new, or exciting, while the main run stalled with The Last Stand. But then came the light, the 1962-set First Class brought a fresh take to Professor X and Magneto – turning back the clock to their first meeting. If First Class brought some hope, by the time Days Of Future Past rolled around in 2014, fans were whooping and hollering, rejoicing the fact that the X-Men brand had elevated itself to mainstream Marvel levels.
All that promise and joy quickly evaporates when you get stuck into the latest mutant escapade though.
It’s not that Apocalypse is an inherently bad film, far from it. There’s just nothing exciting happening – at all. Which is quite the feat considering the whole film revolves around the rise of En Sabah Nur (Oscar Isaac) – or Apocalypse – a centuries-old mutant hell-bent on razing the entire earth with his Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Michael Fassbender’s Magneto, Olivia Munn’s Psylocke, Alexandra Shipp’s Storm and Ben Hardy’s Archangel.
A pretty neat idea, right? You’d think so, but they all look absolutely ridiculous. There’s an obvious need to finely tread the line of camp in superhero movies but this veers horribly into fan-made territory.
Munn can talk all she wants about eating 80% fruit and veg in the run-up to playing Psylocke but quite frankly, she looks absolutely ridiculous and does sweet bugger all. And we can presume Hardy got the job purely for the fact his hair can handle an ’80s perm, because there’s nothing else going on there.
As for poor Oscar Isaac; all that excitement stemming from the Days Of Future Past post-credits scene, the epic one where a whole civilization bows down to a cloaked mutant, has evaporated over time. First they released images of a ludicrous purple get-up straight out of Mars Attacks! The finished product is, thankfully, a toned down blue-grey, but equally monstrous.
There’s clearly fundamental design issues, in both pre and post-production, and if you can’t get past that then there’s little hope, especially when these supposed forces of nature are throwing their weight around in a devastated Cairo and not one emotion is triggered inside you.
It’s largely a mundane film; there’s no pizzazz, the action scenes feel run of the mill, certain one-liners fail to land and the camera often lingers on close-ups for a beat too long – the whole franchise suddenly feels in desperate need of an injection of something. Thankfully, there are hints that not all is lost for Bryan Singer’s beloved mutants.
An influx of young new talent almost balances the scale. Tye Sheridan’s Cyclops and Kodi Smit-McPhee’s Nightcrawler bring a youthful abandon, but its Sophie Turner as Jean Grey who steals the show. With far more to do than anyone could’ve expected ahead of release, she grapples with the inner demons of a telepath still learning about her ability with ease, with her role culminating in an explosive end to rival most summer blockbusters.
And let’s not forget Quicksilver – the Evan Peters one, not the Aaron Taylor Johnson one – who’s fast becoming Marvel’s best character on the big screen. If you thought his scene in Days Of Future Past was top notch, just wait for his latest high-speed jaunt to classic ’80s pop.
The best way to sum the whole experience up is, if you’ve got two hours and a tenner to spare, and fancy not having to pay attention to anything – because at least the narrative is coherent – then crack on, X-Men: Apocalypse is for you. For anything more than that, move along movie lovers.