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Review: “X-Men: Apocalypse” (PG-13)


Oscar Isaac as Apocalypse; Marvel Studios/Twentieth Century Fox(NEW YORK) — Ten years after the events of X-Men: Days of Future Past, humans and mutants coexist — but not exactly in peace.

Rewind, because that’s not how our story starts.  It begins in ancient Egypt, where we first meet our bad guy: Apocalypse. It’s simultaneously electrifying and slightly hilarious. No, I’m not going to elaborate — I’ll just leave it there. In fact, I can’t wait for Honest Trailers to give this movie their treatment. But I digress.

Apocalypse is a mutant with a god complex.  In an effort to take over the world, he seduces four mutants to help him do his bidding. But things don’t exactly work out for him and he winds up buried in the ground for a few thousand years.

Back to the present day.  Apocalypse — En Sabah Nur, if you’re nasty — is kind of a myth but has a small group of followers who not only believe he exists, they’ve unearthed his tomb in hopes of resurrecting him.

In the United States, we get the origin story of Cyclops, aka Scott Summers, a kid whose looks can, literally, kill. We’re introduced to a number of new mutants in this movie, in fact, and reintroduced to others, the most interesting of which is Evan Peters’ Quicksilver. In addition to one particular, jaw-dropping, “explosive” sequence in which Quicksilver steals the show, Peters is an engaging, scene-stealing presence. The guy’s got a high ceiling and I expect, at some point in his career, he’ll be one of the most sought-after actors in Hollywood.

There’s really only one other emotionally engaging element to this movie, and that’s Magneto’s storyline.  He goes into hiding in Germany, pretending to be a regular guy who gets married, has a daughter and works in a steel factory — which given his metal-manipulating mutation is kind of like a recovering alcoholic taking a job in a distillery. While it’s a choice that defies logic, Magneto’s plight, and the way Michael Fassbender plays it, elicits empathy.

I forgot to mention that Oscar Isaac plays Apocalypse and for, perhaps, the first time in his career, he makes zero impact. You can barely tell its him.  Quite frankly, you could’ve put any number of actors in all that make-up and I don’t think it would’ve made a difference. Apocalypse feels more like a symbol than a fully fleshed-out character.

In other words, X-Men: Apocalypse focuses on — nothing. It doesn’t have a focus. Instead, too many chefs in the kitchen kind of spoil the apocalypse. It’s overwritten, overproduced and underdeveloped, but even so, it’s not bereft of entertainment value. It’s still a visual spectacle with some outstanding performances, most notably from Fassbender, James McAvoy’s Professor Charles Xavier,  Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique, and Peters.

Three out of five stars.

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