X-Men : Apocalypse – A Review

Bryan Singer directs Jennifer Lawrence, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and many others in the third instalment in the X-men reboot X-Men: Apocalypse. After basing the First Class in the 60s and the Days of Future Past in the 70s we are in the 80s now and the characters don’t seem to have aged a day since the fateful events of 10 years ago when Mystique/Raven played by Jennifer Lawrence changed the course of history by ending the Sentinel program of Bolivar Trask. This time around we are witness to events of 3600 BCE when En Sabah Nur ruled Egypt and is believed to be the first Mutant by Agent Moira MacTaggert of CIA. After lying entombed for several millennia he is accidentally awoken by Moira herself as she lets the rays of sun hit the PCB-Pyramid.

I have always vehemently defended the superiority of the X-men universe over their Marvel rivals The Avengers but I was massively disappointed by the almost cartoonish tone of the first half where Oscar Isaac who plays En Sabah Nur – or Apocalypse goes about recruiting a young Storm, Psylocke, Angel and Magneto. There are moments of brilliance when we are introduced to an incognito Magneto and the subsequent breakdown that is more Macbeth than Magneto but brilliant nonetheless. Michael Fassbender can do no wrong.

After what seemed like an eternity trying to establish character back stories the 2 line plot reaches its climax. Essentially it is Apocalypse trying to recruit mutants into fighting against the human race.

I love Olivia Munn and had high hopes of her being one of the four horsemen of apocalypse. But while she slayed as Sloane Sabbath in The Newsroom with quick wit and perfect timing in terms of dialogue delivery she is given no more than 2-3 lines. She does however wield the sword and the telekinetic “light sabre” and Lasso well. I believe this is not the last we have seen of her. Also disappointing is Alexandra Shipp as the young storm. Haley Berry was perfection as storm and to get that kind of iconic character so wrong is nothing short of criminal. Here’s hoping Shipp improves with future outings. I also feel a little cheated with how Wolverine was used – by teasing the fans with a glimpse of the adamantium claws in the trailer and what we end up getting is more stryker than wolverine. But stick around for the post-credit scenes and your disappointment will dissipate significantly when you see what is in store for the next instalment.

The high points are the introduction of Kodi-Smith McPhee as Nightcrawler who brings in the comic relief and Sophie Turner as Jean Grey the Telepathic Mutant played in the first three movies by the brilliant Famke Jansen. Jean Grey in my opinion is a criminally underused character so far and seems like Bryan Singer is about to set that straight. I am almost certain that the future instalments of this franchise are going to feature a more prominent role for Jean Grey. I say this because of the final words of Apocalypse. Evan Peters reprises his role as Quicksilver and is also a welcome comedic presence in an almost entirely grim outing.

For Fassbender, Turner and Smith Mchpee alone I would say that this is an easily watchable feature. Not the best in the series but certainly not the worst (that would be The Last Stand – which was effectively written off by Days of Future Past)

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X-Men First Class

Matthew Vaughn tries to breathe new life into a super-hero franchise which under the able direction of Bryan singer was promising to turn into one of the biggest movie franchises because of its rich and varied source material, died an almost agonizing death at the hands of Brett Ratner. There was an attempt to resuscitate it with the enigmatic Hugh Jackman and his spin-off Wolverine Origins movie but the results were less than satisfactory.

Matthew Vaughn has had somewhat of a hit track record; his previous Kick-Ass was indeed that – it kicked Major Ass! And stardust was a fun take on a fairy-tale genre. With the story credits to Bryan Singer Matthew Vaughn delivers a blockbuster worthy of its predecessors (1 and 2).

The movie is essentially a prequel to the X-Men franchise which traces back to how Xavier and Magneto came to what they were. The story traces the origins of the Mutant Vs Humans conundrum and packs a serious punch in the acting department.

The earlier ( or is it the later considering this is the prequel) X-Men movies had thespians like Patrick Stewart ( Charles Xavier ) and Sir Ian McKellan (Magneto) in its lead roles and it is only right that modern day acting protégés James McAvoy (The Last King of Scotland ) and Michael Fassbender ( Hunger) are to take over from them. Both of then doing such perfect justice to their roles that it is hard to imagine anyone else but them being suitable to essay that role.

The movie benefits from excellent casting choices. McAvoy and Fassbender are great. Kevin Bacon as Sebastian Shaw is excellent and drops a major Story-Origins spoiler which took me by surprise (cause I am not a comic book loving nerd! ) . Nicholas Hoult (About a Boy) is charming as the young Beast, January Jones (Mad Men) is sexy, seductive and scary as Emma Frost, rising star and Oscar Nominee Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone) as the young Raven/Mystique is good but not slinky enough for my liking ( I mean no one does full-blue-body-paint justice like Rebecca Romijn!!) also the host of other itsy-bitsy mutant characters are well chosen and have a ready chemistry to blend with the stellar cast.

The Screenplay is excellent, the dialogues witty and delivered with a tongue-in-cheek fashion and are a whole lot of fun (Kinky!, You know what they say about big feet)

Two thumbs up to the Very Special Guest appearance by the crowd-favorite Adamantium infused super-hero and a very very VERY special appearance by Rebecca Romijn (tell me I wasn’t the only one who noticed!). Also I am absolutely certain I saw a young storm in the cerebro sequence.

Overall an excellent movie and a fun time spent at the cinema, only wish there was a little more action and some more mutant options thrown into the already lavish buffet spread.

One parting thought though – Matthew Vaughn might have done too good a job with this movie. I mean the movie ties up the beginning to the original X-men so perfectly that it does not really leave much room to add new dimensions to take the story/franchise forward. Oh well here is to Matthew Vaughn and his KickAss-2 and to the faithful Hollywood producers who know how to milk a franchise dry – so there is hope after all!