[Movie Review] ‘Apocalypse’ Arrives As ‘X-Men’ Unite
The original mutant awakens after centuries buried beneath ancient ruins and decides to exterminate all of us humans who have not yet “evolved” and developed special abilities, so it’s up to a fledgling team of goodhearted social outcasts to come together and realize an old dream of the X-Men, a team of mutated heroes dedicated to protecting the planet from those who wish to harm others.
This is the setup for Apocalypse, the ninth film set inside 20th Century Fox’s X-Men movie universe (including two Wolverine solo films and the recent Deadpool spinoff), and much like the previous entry Days of Future Past, and not unlike Marvel’s Civil War last month, much of the fun of the movie is seeing the iconic panels of the source comic books brought to life in stunning fashion on the big screen.
Oscar Isaac is unrecognizable to The Force Awakens fans of his Poe Dameron character, playing the titular villain, the oldest of all the mutants and also apparently the most powerful. He has historically always had four accomplices, the most powerful and dangerous mutants of their eras, which inspired the Biblical story of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
While viewers completely uninitiated with any of the prior films in this franchise will be a bit confused as to what is going on, as an avid X-Men fan I was sold when Angel (played by Ben Hardy) trades his Heavenly wings for metallic weapons in his transformation into the fourth horsemen, as the Metallica deep cut “The Four Horsemen” cranks up on the soundtrac. It’s an awesome scene for heavy metal fans, but it is also completely in keeping with the time period the movie is set in, which is 1983, the same year the song was released.
It’s also the same year that another far more well known song was released – the Eurythmics classic “Sweet Dreams”, which is also used quite prominently in Apocalypse for what is probably the most entertaining scene in the film, as speedster Quicksilver (played by Evan Peters) makes a daring rescue in his signature hilarious style first witnessed in Days of Future Past.
Returning for their third X movie together, the powerhouse trio of James McAvoy as the ever-righteous Professor Xavier, Michael Fassbender as the always conflicted Magneto, and Jennifer Lawrence as the shapely blue shape-shifter Mystique are all more comfortable in their respective roles than ever, having now fully claimed them as their own, no longer in the shadows of the performers who previously played them.
Other familiar faces return from Days of Future Past and the earlier First Class, including Nicholas Hoult as Beast, Rose Byrne as Moira MacTaggert, and a welcome return of Lucas Till as Havok, but it’s really about the new kids at Xavier’s School for the Gifted, with updated incarnations of Jean Grey played by Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner, Nightcrawler played by Kodi Smit-McPhee, and Scott Summers (aka Cyclops) played by Tye Sheridan joining the team.
Rounding out the Four Horsemen along with Angel of Death and Magneto is Olivia Munn’s badass Psylocke and Alexandra Shipp as the new Storm, both welcome additions to the franchise that we’re sure we will see more of in future movies.
And yes, it’s no spoiler to say that Hugh Jackman reprises his role as Wolverine (his eighth time playing the character in an X-Men film), and while it’s not a huge scene, it is definitely more than a cameo, and it is especially poignant for longtime X fans.
The Apocalypse is upon us for now, and it is a satisfyingly epic clash that could only be born of the ultra-imaginative world of comic books, but the X-Men are here to stay, and so we are too.
Official Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Reviewed by: Matt Artz
What did YOU think of this movie? Write your own review in the comments below!
X-Men: Apocalypse (rated PG13) is now playing locally at RC Theatres in Kill Devil Hills (through June 23).