X-Men: Apocalypse

Year: 2016
Director: Bryan Singer
Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Oscar Isaac
Written by Luke Riley

The X-Men are a team that are near and dear to me, as I would religiously watch the 90s cartoon as a child. When Bryan Singer brought the X-Men to the silver screen in 2000, my tiny mind didn’t quite know how to react. I reacted simply by watching the film almost on a weekly basis, discovering something new with each viewing. Sir Ian Mckellen gave credence to a villain as conflicted as Magneto, and Patrick Stewart, quite simply, IS Professor X. Hugh Jackman as Wolverine was also an inspired choice to lead our band of heroes. The supporting cast are a joy to watch, and that first movie is still one of the best examples of a superhero movie.

Since this first movie there has been the ever watchable ‘X-Men 2’, which made the established X-verse even richer, with more characters and an emotionally charged storyline. The less we say about ‘X-Men: The Last Stand’ the better, as this almost rendered the franchise broken. What two movies built, one managed to kill and bury with its one too many, poorly constructed story arcs.

Flash forward five years, and in 2011 we were presented with a fresh rebooted X-Men franchise, set in the 1960s, which brought the fun and colour of the era. Directed by Matthew Vaughn, ‘First Class’ breathed life into what was once thought dead. Then, 2014 saw the return of the original cast, in ‘Days of Future Past’, directed by Bryan Singer once again. This movie lovingly brought together the original cast and the fresh faced younger X-Men, using time travel as a means to repairing the damage done by ‘X-men: The Last Stand’. An apt way of delivering closure to the original cast, while pushing the ‘First Class’ group into an uncertain future.

Set in the 1980s, ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ gives us the superhero teen, coming-of-age movie, along with the world destroying disaster epic. We are introduced to the concept and character of Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) in a short introduction set in Ancient Egypt. We see his four horseman, and how he seemingly achieves immortality. The movie wastes no time in bringing Apocalypse into the present day and we are given small glimpses into what a school-set movie could be. We see Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) meet Scott Summers (Tye Sheridan) and the beginnings of what their relationship will be. There are a lot of cool nods to characters we’ve seen in comics, cartoons and other movies, which are subtle and never slapped in your face. The introduction and rise of the four horseman gives motives to new characters and others we have seen before, with Magneto’s story being particularly interesting. As the movie progresses, the stakes are raised and the climax is worthy of any superhero movie.

Many reviews have complained about the CGI in the film, but for me, these complaints are unwarranted. The visuals in this are so impressive and only serve to embellish the story. The music is also particularly noteworthy, as it almost carries the entire movie. One particular scene, in which Apocalypse makes a speech, is underpinned by a beautifully menacing score which left me grinning through the entire sequence.

‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ proves that Bryan Singer is the man to lead the X-Men franchise, but he needs to anchor it and make sure it stays on course. This is one of my films of the year and is totally enjoyable. It deserves repeat viewings and any fan of sci-fi, fantasy and/or superheroes should enjoy this movie.

Luke’s rating: 9.0 out of 10
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