(M) Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence
The question for the ages will continue to be: “Where did we come from?” The question of origins has plagued mankind and in X-Men: Apocalypse, it is considered by humans and mutants. CIA agent Moira Mactaggert (Rose Byrne) seems to have found the answer in the deep recesses of Cairo, Egypt. An ancient tomb holds the remains of the original mutant being, Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac). He is awakened and is looking to make all of the wrongs right in the world. His methodology is to eradicate the human race and to start over with the creation of mankind. He wants to do this with the strongest of the mutants, who will be led by the “four horseman of the apocalypse”. The only thing that might divert this plan appears to be the forces of the young, but growing student population of Xavier Institute for Higher Learning (led by Professor Charles Xavier, played by James McAvoy). As the mutant battle lines form between these two sides, many of the established X-men force must decide whether to hold onto their prejudices against the human race or if they will become the saviours of the world.
In the pursuit to explore the possibilities of God, director Bryan Singer (X-Men: Days of Future Past) considers that the original mutant was actually a god. But is Apocalypse a god, a fake god, or a mutant with a god-like complex? These questions may eventually plague the minds of those who come along to the latest installment of the X-Men franchise, even though they are not answered by the film. Putting aside these theological considerations, Singer must be praying that audiences will have had enough of Batman v Superman and Captain America: Civil War — and will want more from the original band of superhero mutants.
The beginning of Apocalypse shows promise, thanks to an attempt to humanise this mutant gang. Magneto (Michael Fassbender) is a husband and father who is a humble steel worker in Poland; Professor Xavier has the potential to reconnect with his lost love; and Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) is attempting to save abused mutants around the world. Singer gives a softer perception of these heroes by drawing audiences into the plight of this misunderstood race of humanoids, but this promise is short lived.
“Love the humans, hate the humans?” remains as an ingrained tension between the mutated brotherhood of Xavier (Professor X) and Eric (Magneto) — and it is proven here to have run its course. Even with a super humanoid villain to capture the X-Men’s attention, the familiar argument remains at the heart of the division between the on-again/off-again comrades-in-arms. What begins as a possible fresh start for Xavier and Eric’s relationship becomes a redundant agrument; It is like watching an old married couple fighting over events of the past.
This is one of Apocalypse’s many shortcomings and Singer seems unable to keep this X-men outing from falling into the void of mediocrity. A short-list of problems are found in the confusing timelines, the excessive monologuing by all of the villains (Did no one learn their lesson from The Incredibles?), and excessive violence against the world’s population. But these are minor in comparison to two primary issues. The first is found in the film’s antagonistic namesake, Apocalypse. Isaacs cannot be held to account for this glaring example of miscasting or offence to villainy. The blame falls squarely on the head of the director who seems to have missed the brief that Apocalypse is a massive presence in the comic-book world. Even though Isaacs is a formidable actor, his physical presence is not what most would think of when thinking of a super-villain. He is unrecognisable throughout the film due to poor choices of make-up, special effects and voice distortion.
The second issue for Singer is his reliance on Lawrence as a leader within the mutant ranks. She seems to be doing a less-than-effective rehash of Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games. She became the weak link in the chain of mutant leadership.
Outside of the inclusion of some new characters, there is not much to praise about Singer’s latest creation.
You do have to feel for Singer and Fox, for choosing this release date which follows after Batman v Superman and Captain America:Civil War. Regardless of the timing, though, X-Men: Apocalypse still feels tired and undercooked. This chapter of the mutated warriors should have remained closed and the franchise needs to be shelved for awhile to find new writers and a fresh cast.
What are some of the bigger questions to consider from this film?
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” (John 1:1-2)
X-Men: Apocalypse does provide multiple discussion points for conversations about God. Does He exist? Do many roads exist that lead to one God? Are we are able to kill God? Fortunately, the Bible does give us the answers to these questions and more. After seeing the comic-book adventure, it might be worth picking up a copy of the Bible and searching for the answers to the questions that get left unanswered by Apocalypse.
- Is it wrong to have heroes? (John 3:16-17, Romans 12:17-21)
- What does the Bible have to say about division? (Mark 3:24-26, 1 Corinthians 1:10-13)
- Can mankind’s hearts change from evil to good? (2 Corinthians 5:17, 2 Timothy 2:21)