Directed by Bryan Singer
Fox, out 18 May UK, 27 May US
The first mutant is back – and he’s not impressed by what he finds…
We’re obviously in the Year of the Superhero Battle, with three films within the space of three months pitting friends (or future friends) against each other in a conflict that’s caused by an outside force. In two of the three, it goes the predictable route of the conflict disappearing and the bad guy becoming the focus of their ire; in one, the battle may be the biggest setpiece, but it’s not the climax of the movie. That one is the best of these three by a country mile – and it’s not X-Men Apocalypse.
As Sophie commented as we left the preview, “Marvel hasn’t lost its inner DC” – the blatant, totally pointless destruction and loss of life that we saw in Man of Steel and Batman vs Superman is front and centre once again. It’s leavened, it has to be said, with some humour – courtesy mainly of Quicksilver and Nightcrawler, who both steal the show at times – but Singer seems to revel more in letting the CGI experts do their work than worry about the consequences of what he’s showing on screen. The groundwork for the resolution of the final battle is telegraphed so heavy-handedly that you’re sitting there just waiting for the various characters to do their bit (and waiting and waiting and waiting). The movie could easily have lost 15-20 minutes running time – or used it to tell us some of the characters’ names (I had to look up the cast list to discover what Psylocke was called!). There are some odd script decisions too, particularly with regard to what motivates Magneto (one particular plotline is set up in no uncertain terms to go one way – and makes sense while it’s doing so – and then… just doesn’t, for no apparent reason).
It’s a movie you’ll want to see on as big a screen as possible to relish the work done by the technicians. The spectacle considerably outweighs the drama, despite every effort by James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Nicholas Hoult and Jennifer Lawrence in particular. Oscar Isaac’s Apocalypse is unfortunately too one-note to put him in the pantheon of great supervillains, and there really isn’t the spark between Tye Sheridan as Cyclops and Sophie Turner as Jean Grey that the script demands. We get an appearance by Hugh Jackman (as if there was any doubt about that) but not as we’ve seen him before – although there’s good reason for that, and it’s about time we saw that side of his character.
Verdict: X-Men Apocalypse isn’t the misstep that X-Men Origins: Wolverine was, but it definitely isn’t up there with either X2 or Days of Future Past. 6/10