X-Men: Apocalypse – Film Review

Bryan Singer's latest instalment in the franchise isn't amazing, but it's not the end of the world

By naming the franchise’s latest instalment Apocalypse, the X-Men creative team can’t help raising our expectations. Presumably this time we’re not getting the usual snap, crackle and pop, but super-sized, cataclysmic, Earth-shattering snap, crackle and pop. But though director Bryan Singer has delivered a film that’s bigger and longer than its predecessors, this doesn’t mean it’s more interesting.

The film’s title actually refers to its main villain, Apocalypse, an ancient and all-powerful mutant whose purple prosthetic shell pretty much buries the talented actor who plays him, Star Wars‘ Oscar Isaac. When a misguided cult somehow awakens him from a centuries-old slumber, Apocalypse is horrified by what the world has become and resolves to destroy it so he can essentially push humanity’s reset button. Along the way, he recruits Magneto (Michael Fassbender), steeled for battle by a terrible personal tragedy, as one of his henchmen. This once again pits Magneto against perennial frenemy Professor X (James McAvoy), who’s leading the team of mutants trying to stop Apocalypse’s, well, apocalypse.

For most of its 144-minute running time, Singer’s film plods along competently enough without ever building the epic tension its premise should really generate. There are several entertaining action sequences, but the only truly memorable moment is an infectiously tongue-in-cheek time-freeze scene featuring Quicksilver (Evan Peters) that’s a riff on something similar from 2014’s X-Men: Days Of Future Past. Even at its most explosive, X-Men: Apocalypse feels over-populated by poorly-drawn supporting characters. Though a new, younger Jean Grey played by Game Of Thrones’ Sophie Turner shows promise, other franchise newbies like Angel (former EastEnders actor Ben Hardy) and Psylocke (The Newsroom’s Olivia Munn) are cripplingly two-dimensional. The script by longtime X-Men producer Simon Kinberg makes an even bigger mistake by painting Jennifer Lawrence’s character Mystique as sad and jaded. Even Hollywood’s biggest actress struggles to create sparks here.

That said, X-Men: Apocalypse is no disaster: it sets up the franchise’s next instalment pretty neatly and the complex relationship between Professor X and Magneto remains engaging. But for a film about the end of the world, this is an oddly uninvolving affair.