- RatedPG13 /GenreAction, Adventure
There’s a scene in ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ that stands out not for its well-choreographed action set piece or unbelievably stunning CGI, but for its quiet contemplation.
Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) – or Magneto as we best know him by – stands in a forest, with a group of Polish police officers before him. His daughter Nina, gripped tightly by one of them. After years of living an idyllic family life incognito, Erik is finally exposed as a mutant.
Knowing that Magneto, one of the most powerful mutants around, can control metal, the police left their metal badges at home, nor packed their guns. Instead, they came with wooden bows, arrows and uncertainty on their faces. Fearful of what they might do with Nina, Erik begs them to release her and to take him instead.
Quiet and poignant, the scene speaks volumes and serves as an unravelling of sorts. It is a reminder that comic-book superhero movies need not rely too much on spectacle and bombast.
However, ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ is far from subtle. It is a comic-book movie after all.
Directed by Bryan Singer, the movie is a sequel to the director’s time-travelling ‘Days of Future Past’ and the final instalment of the ‘X-Men’ trilogy reboot that Matthew Vaughn kick-started in the excellent ‘First Class’.
Here, the stakes just got higher and the fate of humanity lies in the hands of a bunch of gifted teenagers (but of course).
The movie opens in 3600 BCE Egypt, introducing us to the big bad of the film. A supposedly omnipotent mutant thing named En Sabah Nur in the midst of taking over a younger body (Oscar Isaac, briefly glimpsed out of make-up), before rebels interrupt the ceremony, trapping him underground for millennia.
He awakens in 1983 and plans to restart the world on a fresh new page after seeing what it has become in his long absence.
Of course, the all-mighty Apocalypse (let’s just call him that) is not without his lackeys.
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He has recruited his ‘Four Horsemen’ -- the weather-controlling Storm (Alexandra Shipp), the high-flying Angel (Ben Hardy), the slicing, dicing Psylocke (an underused Oliva Munn) and Magneto to assist in his plan to cleanse the world of humans.
Although the mutants have outed themselves in the last movie, most of them are still existing underground.
Most of the principal characters – Raven/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), Beast (Nicholas Hoult) – remain the same, and we're also introduced to newer, younger versions of established mutants, such as Scott "Cyclops" Summers (Tye Sheridan), Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), and Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee).
They're part of the new class at the School for Gifted Youngsters, which Charles Xavier (James McAvoy, with floppy ‘80s hair) opened to teach the next generation of mutants.
The massive line-up easily makes this the biggest ‘X-Men’ movie yet and in the hands of the capable Bryan Singer, the movie makes for the perfect ensemble action movie. However, the film's world-ending premise and multiple plot-lines makes it feels a tad overstuffed.
If anything, ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ will delight any fan. Comic book geeks will relish finally seeing Jubilee in her vivid yellow jacket, Prof X finally losing his hair (nothing to do with male pattern baldness) and Wolverine straight out of the comic books. We also discover the source of the clawed-one’s fascination with Jean Grey.
Oscar Isaac takes a break from the Light Side and hams it up as the megalomaniacal übermensch. Though smaller in stature than the one in the comics, Isaac more than makes up for it in his performance; giving something so obviously inhuman emotional heft.
The real star, however, is Sophie Turner as the shy Jean Grey who is still unsure of her powers.
Despite its sombre tone, the writers managed to squeeze in some needed levity, particularly in one sequence. Evans Peters’ Quicksilver returns to save the day again in an encore freeze-time showstopper to the tune of Eurythmics’ ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).
Many of the scenes could have been trimmed (the movie’s a 145-minutes), but for the most part, X really hits the spot.
As for the inevitable post-credits scene, be warned – it's a long wait for a little reward.
‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ opens 19 May 2016