Apocalypse is the third movie in the second trilogy of Marvel’s X-Men boasting one of the most impressive super villains in comic book history. Following the Days of Future Past arc, the movie had big shoes to fill and required pulling out all the stops to please comic book junkies. With a constant barrage of super powers at every turn, it delivers eye candy even if it had a few hiccups in the plot.
It starts with the fall of En Sabah Nur, an Egyptian pharaoh? God? Whatever. He’s captured and then we’re sped up to modern-day (I mean 1980’s) through a nifty title sequence. The film takes place a decade after the events of Days of Future Past. Mystique is considered an American hero and Magneto (who should be called Magneat-o) is a terrorist. We see Moira McTaggert in her CIA role basically screwing up and bringing the most powerful mutant in eternity back to life. Thanks Moira, bet they all wish you became a geneticist and lived on a secluded island in Scotland now.
The movie spends a good chunk of time “building teams.” Apocalypse teleports his butt all over the place. First is Storm, whom he catches stealing in Egypt, (originally discovered by Professor X in the comics), then Psylocke, who just happened to be standing in a mutant underground, then Angel, the master of cage fighting, and last, Magneto after his latest bender from having everybody he loves killed. Again. Apocalypse’s gathering of mutants seemed random and lacked some motivation. Storm wants to change the world and he offers her the power to do that. Okay, she’s tricked. Psylocke, she just gives a, “Sure, I’m not doing anything in the movie so far.” Angel, after losing the ability of his wings is more forced into the role of Archangel. And Magneto, well, he has to do something evil, because he always does that before he finds the errors of his ways.
The X-Men’s team is built with motivation in mind. Mystique is saving mutants across the globe and discovers Nightcrawler (who just broke Angel’s wings) and uses him to teleport to the mansion after she discovers Magneto has returned. Quicksilver hears Magneto is alive and killed some people, he decides to go to the Mansion since they’re the only people he knows with access to Magneto. Scott Summers has just been brought to the Professor by his older brother (and former X-Man) where he meets Jean Grey and Beast.
Now, don’t let me get it wrong. While the majority of the movie is about moving people into place, it’s not without its action. Cyclops destroys a few things on accident. Jean Grey basically shows she’s going to destroy the world. Storm picks some pockets. Angel shows he’s psychotic. Psylocke shows…well she doesn’t show anything worth watching yet.
While there is plenty of serious end of the world moments, the movie doesn’t ignore its humorous past. While not part of the humor, the amount of shoulder pads and 80’s costumes makes it more comical than nostalgic. Nightcrawler spends half the movie looking like Michael Jackson from the Thriller music video. Even Jubilee gets a decent role in the movie, as a background character, who says almost nothing, and does even less. That’s the joke, right? Their discussion about Return of the Jedi and how all third movies sucks is poking fun at itself, but taking a real dig at the third installment of the original trilogy. Honestly, it did feel like teenagers being teens, and had a lighthearted side to the urgency of the movie. Oh, they also happen to have extremely powerful abilities.
Apocalypse eventually discovers the Professor and his ability to tap into the minds of everybody on the planet and comes to the Mansion, steals him away and in an effort to stop him, Havoc does what he does. He blows shit up. The humor created by Quicksilver’s obnoxious attitude is seen tenfold as he moves at lightning speeds to save every person from the explosion. From saving goldfish, to stealing sodas, hurling people out of windows, and saving the dog, there is humor where necessary.
The story gets interesting when Striker shows up and steals away a handful of the students (Quicksilver, Beast, Mystique, not Jubilee, I repeat, nobody wants Jubilee) and Cyclops, Jean, and Nightcrawler tag along to save them. We are jetted away to Alkali Lake, which we know is a Wolverine origin point, and based on the previews, we know its coming. In an effort to get rid of the guards, Jean opens a container with an animal in it. I would like to link to this article and say, I called it suckers. Original costume and all. However, there are no Canadian jokes, missed opportunity Fox, missed opportunity.
The gang heads to Egypt where they’re going on their final confrontation. It happens, they win. Everybody has a moment of unity. If you want details, buy a ticket.
What did this movie do wrong? It spent far too much time making Apocalypse powerful to the point where he had no equal. The only thing they didn’t toss in were the Celestials powers. You know at the final battle, it’s either going to be a team effort with some traitors, or Apocalypse is going to win. The ending wasn’t perfectly predictable, but we had an idea. We knew Magneto would see the errors of his ways (cause that man can’t make a decision and stick with it to save his life.) And because of Storms back story, it was understandable she would help the X-Men. Bryan Singer does well with the ensemble, but there were some characters he must have just gone, “Hey, you’re hot, we’ll put you on the posters, but how the hell do I use you?” *cough*Psylocke*cough* She basically sneaks onto the set of the movie, has a quick fight scene, then sneaks back off. I can’t even remember if they called her by name? She probably got as much face time as Jubilee. There. I said it. Sansa Stark can only play distant and slightly aloof, which works for most of the film, but her grand moment it seemed like, “Oh shit, what was it my acting coach taught me?”
Now, there were some issues, but let’s discuss why you should go buy that ticket. The comic book came to life. We saw superpowers used, but not only used, but used in those interesting ways the characters in the comics would use to save the day. Nightcrawler bamfs the crap out of Archangel and Psylocke goes from using her psiblade to a psiwhip. Every character got a chance to use their powers in a way that helped perpetuate the story of who they are. The scene with Wolverine fits into the story line of all six movies, and we finally get to see a real berserker rage. I think Bryan Singer maxed out the number of characters he could handle, and some got short-changed, but he didn’t short change their effects, powers, and unique uses of their powers.
Was it worth it? Yes, if you’re okay with the cinematic universe making alterations to the characters, I thin you’ll walk away very happy. If you’re a stickler for cannon, I think you’re going to be annoyed. But let’s be honest, the comics get goofy to the point of dumb, so there are reasonable updates to make things work a bit more fluidly, especially for a two-hour time frame.
The arrival of Phoenix was handled well. I like that they’re sticking to the ultimate story line (or so we think right now.) She finally taps into the root of her power and the effects finally worked. Sorry Famke, you did a great job, but they ruined your plot in the final movie. I secretly hoped Magneto would stay at the end and this would be a perfect bridge into the New Mutants, but I’m satisfied with the sentinels walking into the Danger Room as Mystique gives her speech. The final scene after the credits is interesting (again, breaking canon) as we know Mr. Sinister will be a primary piece to the upcoming storyline. It’ll be a few years with Singer working on other projects, and who knows what will happen with McAvoy, Fassbender, and Lawrence at the end of their contract. So now, we get to secretly hope that the expanding X-Universe will keep us happy in the meantime.