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X-MEN: APOCALYPSE Pyramid Scheme

x-men-apocalypse

Directed by Bryan Singer
Starring James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence

X-Men: Apocalypse moves the X-Men franchise forward into the decade of Reganomics and MTV. Carrying on from the continuity reboot of Days Of Future Past (which managed to meld the worlds of the 2000 X-Men and X-Men: First Class, while simultaneously wiping the slate clean), we are introduced to a world ending threat from the dawn of civilisation.

It has been 10 years since mutants became public knowledge with Magneto’s (Michael Fassbender) spectacular failed assassination attempt on the president. Since that time the world has at face value become more accepting of mutants, but prejudice and hatred still lie below the surface. Xavier (James McAvoy), Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) and Magneto, have all split apart to various corners of the world and established their own lives.  When the world’s first born mutant, an ancient god-like being known as Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac), is awakened from a millennia of slumber, the world is threatened with destruction. To stop him, a new group of Xavier’s students must join forces with the old guard to take up the fight.

Strangely enough for the first full film set in the temporally rebooted X-Men universe, this is just as weighed down with lore as you would expect from without the reboot. X-Men: Apocalypse is forced to divide its time amongst the older First Class characters, the new blood students, and the villainous Apocalypse, causing the movie to bloat out to two-and-a-half hours. For all that time there is precious little story here and even less character motivation (especially amongst the Horsemen of Apocalypse).

Instead X-Men: Apocalypse is all about the flashy set pieces. CG sets fly apart in a display of beautiful particle physics, as world-destroying powers are unleashed and the X-Men battle for the fate of humanity. It is pure spectacle, disaster porn that would do Roland Emmerich proud.  There is little emotional attachment to the images on display, as like the ’80s setting itself, everything is just comic-book set dressing for the no holds barred pitched battle of the final act.

All of which sounds disastrous, but that is being slightly unfair. X-Men Apocalypse is an average example of the superhero genre. No more, no less. Its set pieces and fight sequences are solid, it has numerous nods to fans, a strong ensemble cast, and it maintains the tenuous links to both X-Men properties. It delivers exactly what fans would expect from it, just don’t wish for more.

DAVID O’CONNELL

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