It would appear that the Bryan Singer who so competently directed the original “X-Men” film, its acclaimed sequel “X2” and the most recent outing “Days of Future Past” has forgotten to show up for the latest X adventure “Apocalypse”. Working with an underwhelming script and far too many characters – most of whom act as surplus stock – “Apocalypse” runs on a formula that’s all very been-there-done-that and at this stage in the X-Men universe that’s just unacceptable.
There are moments of genuine interest peppered throughout ‘Apocalypse’ though, and it’s in these sequences that we delight in the film that should’ve been. Deriving its title from a character believed to have been the world’s first mutant (a sadly wasted Oscar Isaac), Apocalypse regains consciousness in the glorious 1980’s where the majority of our heroes are struggling with their own identities.
Shape-shifter Mystique (a bored-looking Jennifer Lawrence) is keeping herself as hidden as she can after inadvertently becoming a beacon of hope for mutants the world over following her act of defiance 10 years prior (in previous film “Days of Future Past”). Magneto (Michael Fassbender) is happily playing the family man with a wife and child, managing to keep his powers at bay as he moonlights as a factory worker.
As much as the screenwriters try, “Apocalypse” fails to offer anything of massive interest and the majority of the running time is devoted to exposition merely there to race us towards the spectacle-heavy finale, a sequence that delivers rather standard destructive imagery and fight sequences that offer little in terms of surprise.
It isn’t all doom for fans though as the film adopts a healthy sense of humour (a joke referring to the third film in a trilogy always being the worst evoked a decent giggle from a switched-on audience), the violence quota is considerable (this film’s surprise MA15+ rating is justified) and the likes of Fassbender, James McAvoy (as Professor X) and Evan Peters (as Quicksilver, again earning a standout sequence where his light-speed abilities are showcased amongst an explosive rescue) give their all.
“Apocalypse” won’t serve as the end of the series but it should certainly act as a warning as to what should be avoided in the next sequel.
X-Men: Apocalypse is in cinemas now, rated MA15+.