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X-Men: Apocalypse
3.5/5
dir Bryan Singer
scr Simon Kinberg
prd Simon Kinberg, Lauren Shuler Donner, Bryan Singer
with James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Oscar Isaac, Rose Byrne, Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, Evan Peters, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Olivia Munn, Ben Hardy, Alexandra Shipp, Lucas Till, Josh Helman, Hugh Jackman
release UK 18.May.16, US 27.May.16
16/UK Fox 2h24
X-Men: Apocalypse
The new class: Sheridan, Peters, Lawrence and Turner

mcavoy fassbender hoult
See also:
First Class (2011) Days of Future Past (2014)
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
X-Men: Apocalypse Like The Last Stand, the blockbuster finale of the first X-Men trilogy, this trilogy-closer abandons subtlety and subtext for a massive action epic overrun with characters and digital effects. It's still entertaining, thanks to a driving story and first-rate cast. And there are still plenty of cool surprises along the way. But the big themes the story raises never have any traction.

It's 1983, and Erik (Fassbender) has peacefully started a new family in a quiet corner of Poland, while Charles (McAvoy) and his sidekick Hank (Hoult) gather mutant children at their school in America. As Raven (Lawrence) explores the world looking for mutants in need of friends, she recruits the teleporting Kurt (Smit-McPhee) and heads to Cairo, where CIA operative Moira (Byrne) has stumbled into a freaky cult in Cairo. They have just awakened ancient super-mutant Apocalypse (Isaac), who intends to consolidate power and cleanse the planet. The question is which side everyone should take.

Yes, it's a continuation of this year's theme of getting superheroes to fight each other. And Singer oddly abandons the human scale of his previous X-Men movies for an over-serious tone and a grim grey and black, plastic and steel design. This means that the plot is full of contrived events that set the eyes rolling. At least there's also some levity, mainly thanks to McAvoy's cheeky banter, as well as some strong emotional moments.

McAvoy and Byrne have some of the best interaction, while Turner and Sheridan (as Jean Grey and Cyclops) get the strongest story arcs and the most exhilarating action moments. Most actors get some meaty scenes. Fassbender is excellent as Erik moves from quiet happiness to tragedy to rage. Lawrence offers some inner fire as the group's reluctant activist leader, while Hoult is the sensible mother-hen. And Peters gets a couple of show-stealing Quicksilver set-pieces, plus a personal conundrum.

What sets this franchise apart is the layering of each character's personal journey and strongly-held individual beliefs. So it's odd that Singer seems distracted by the big-scale effects work, leaving the much more interesting detail in the background. This is most apparent in the villain, a character that touches on intriguing ideas about the nature of god and humanity. But those themes are lost, like Isaac himself, under layers of latex and a silly Borg-like costume. The spectacle is entertaining, but it could have been so much more.

cert 12 themes, violence, language 16.May.16

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© 2016 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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