X-Men: Apocalypse review: Visual beauty mined from great destruction
At The Movies
X-MEN: APOCALYPSE: 3D
* * * (B)
Directed By Bryan Singer
Starring James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Oscar Isaac, Nicholas Hoult, Sophie Turner, Olivia Munn, Rose Byrne, Ben Hardy, Alexandra Shipp, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Evan Peters, Tye Sheridan
Fox, Rated PG-13, Fantasy, 144 minutes
Given the number of mutants showing up in any “X-Men” film, the overflowing cast becomes the equivalent of superhero hoarding.
Pity the poor critic, for whom, writing a coherent review presents an organizational nightmare. Having already grossed over $250 million during its opening days, the effort to help us out by keeping the story relatively simple, appears to be paying off.
Under the banner of 20th Century Fox Studios, this seventh X-Men installment was created by director Bryan Singer (helming his fourth), and writer Simon Kinberg (scribing his third).
Set in 1983, we meet mutants in their younger incarnations. Additionally, “X-Men: Apocalypse” is tasked with introducing a handful of new ones. Each introduction is staged to depict the character’s psychology, while foreshadowing who each will become.
Claiming he is fascinated by X-Men mutant origins, Singer takes us back 5,000 years to meet the first mutant, Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac, unrecognizable beneath inspired makeup).
He rules ancient Egypt with an iron fist, and conquers his own mortality via pyramids that harness solar-activated hieroglyphs. Graceful camera work allows clear visual references to explain all we need know about the process, the new mythology, and the concepts that spring from it.
As Apocalypse readies himself to take a new host body, his military officers stage a coup that traps him deep beneath the pyramid before he completes his transfer. Thousands of years later, you can blame those pesky archeologists (not to mention the faithful worshippers of old Egyptian ways), when in 1983, their hole-digging activates reawaken Apocalypse.
Since he’s the villain, Apocalypse naturally decides that the manmade world, including its humans, is inferior. Therefore, he must be tear it down and build anew. Apocalypse recruits newcomers Psylocke (Olivia Munn), projecting a huge sword made from her psychic energy, and winged, predatory Angel (Ben Hardy).
Also working with Apocalypse is young Storm (Alexandra Shipp), controlling atmospheric elements. Finally, the original mutant recruits a highly disillusioned Magneto (Michael Fassbender), able to control both metal and magnetism.
As always, firmly on the side of right and good is Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), who continues to make new alliances through his School for Gifted Students.
Fiercely loyal is strongman Beast (Nicholas Hoult). Another ally is Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), travelling the world incognito when she rescues teleporting Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) from his evil masters.
In order to fight Apocalypse, Xavier also counts on the lasar-beam-shooting Cyclops (Tye Sheridan), the practically limitless telepathic and telekinetic powers of Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), and the supersonic-moving Quicksilver (Evan Peters).
Battles occurring between mutant factions are well-choreographed matches, finding reasons to use each and every mutant’s power to its best advantage. We are treated to the destruction of the Golden Gate Bridge, Sydney’s Opera House, and other famous landmarks.
Magneto harnesses Earth’s magnetic fields to pull the debris into gigantic rainbow-shaped arcs. Rarely has such beauty been mined from such great destruction. Ever may it be so.