X-Men: Apocalypse begins back in Ancient Egypt, around 3600 BCE (Before Common Era – I had to look that up. I presume it means, before Lonnie Rashid Lynn Jr, aka the rapper known as Common, became a star, but I’d need to check)
By a non-coincidence, this is also when the first mutant, En Sabah Nur – later to become Apocalypse – is done a wrong turn by his followers and emtombed forever in a scene which looks a bit Stargate-like… until he’s later disturbed in 1983 by Dr. Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne) while she’s out and about.
1983 is not only the best year ever for music, but also ten years on from the events in X-Men: Days of Future Past, where crash, bang, wallop, sideburns and bad dress sense prevailed, such was the style at the time. However, while there has effectively been ten years of peace, it doesn’t mean that the mutants haven’t faced prejudice along the way.
Not knowing anything about the backstory, and not being a reader of the comics, I leave the films to fill in all the blanks for me, so while I didn’t know that those accompanying Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac – Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, Inside Llewyn Davis) were called the Four Horsemen, I still got the idea that he’s got his gang and the good guys will have theirs, so it’s like a fight after school on Grange Hill.
Cyclops (Tye Sheridan, who starred in 2014’s Joe, opposite Nicolas Cage) is front and centre in this one, as he’s introduced into Professor X’s School for Kids Who Do The Craziest Things, since he’s just learning of what his eyes can achieve. Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) is also introduced, and while her talents are used less out of the two, both certainly get to show off what they can do.
There’s a fair amount of globe-trotting, taking in Ohio, then East Berlin where Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) observes cage fighting between Angel (Ben Hardy) and Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee), then to Poland where Erik (Michael Fassbender) suffers a tragedy, where the feeling’s gone and he can’t go on, and given his situation, it’s hard to bear, because with no one to love you, you’re goin’ nowhere… so the bad guys whip out a bit of James Taylor instead, as they prove he’s got a friend. (None of these songs are featured in the film and I promise I have not taken LSD before writing this)
Oh, and they also go to Cairo… since we’re in Egypt. Plus, take a brief stop-off in Auschwitz.
While there aren’t as many action scenes as one might expect, leading to a fair number of talking scenes, the latter all tend to work a lot better in furthering the plot – such that it is – than those we saw in Captain America: Civil War. That said, X-Men: Apocalypse is definitely about 20 minutes too long. As for the big baddie’s intentions, Apocalypse just wants to destroy everything and remake it in his image, which seems to involve lifting the destruction high into the air and swirl it around incessantly, for no particular reason. Presumably, at some point, he would get some workmen in to actually take some of this rubble and turn it back into new buildings, but if they’re anything like the men who worked on my house, then the impending bank holiday weekend means they’re taking the two weeks off around it and won’t be turning up for a while.
As such, his intent falls a bit flat given the number of superhero movies where buildings have been splattered six ways from Sunday, leaving and end result looking like a quarry from Doctor Who.
Go to page 2 for more thoughts about this film…