There have been so many superhero movies lately (Avengers, Captain America: Civil War, Batman v Superman) that one can’t help but feel a little numb at the sequel-cash-cows Hollywood seems to be milking for all they’re worth.
But I’ve always liked the X-Men series (Can you believe it has been 16 years since the first X-Men movie debuted on the silver screen?). So when X-Men: Apocalypse came out, S and I went to check it out over the weekend. And to be honest, after the rubbish fest that was BvS, I felt like nothing could come close to being the worst movie of the year.
In every superhero (or in this case, mutant) movie, there’ll always be a villain. This time around, the big baddie is En Sabah Nur (there was a joke floating around about Pn Sarawak Nur – if you are Malaysian you will get this) or Apocalypse, an ancient mutant trapped in a pyramid and awakened from slumber after thousands of years. Apocalypse is pretty damn powerful, since he absorbs the abilities of mutants he has transferred his soul into, thus giving him almost immortal life. The last time around, he got entombed because some humans fked up the procedure, thus trapping him until some idiots decided to revive him (isn’t that the case in all movies?) Emerging in a modern world, he aims to restore order – that of the strong (mutants) ruling the weak (humans). He sets out to find Four Horsemen, plucking them from a life of hiding: a young Storm, Angel and Psylocke.
Erik or Magneto is trying to live out a quiet life in Poland with his wife and daughter, Nina. After saving a coworker , he inadvertently exposes his powers – and asshole-coworkers then went to the authorities, who kidnapped his daughter to force him to surrender. In the process, his family gets killed – reviving Erik’s deep hatred for humanity. En Sabah Nur then recruits Magneto as his final Horseman, and together they set out to destroy the earth and establish a new rule.
Meanwhile, all seems fine and dandy at Xavier’s School for the Gifted. Humans are still hostile towards mutants, but ever since the events of the last film, things are slowly changing. We are introduced to a ‘new’ bunch of X-Men – the young Cyclops, Jean Grey and Nightcrawler, the latter whom was rescued by Raven/Mystique and brought to the school. Raven/Mystique requests for Professor X to help locate Magneto, but when X uses the mind enhancing machine Cerebro, he accidentally opens a channel to En Sabah Nur – who now knows that a mutant who reads and controls minds exists, and is hell bent on transferring his own soul into X. The group attacks the facility and kidnaps X. Only Quicksilver’s timely entry saves the school from disaster.
Of course, now it’s up to the newbies to save the day: setting off from the school with their teacher Hank/Beast and Raven, the young Cyclops, Jean Grey and Nightcrawler, along with Quicksilver, must track the baddie group to Cairo and stop En Sabah Nur before he can take over X and become unstoppable.
This is a very long story as to how Professor X became bald.
…Nah, just kidding.
Jokes aside, X-Men Apocalypse is a relatively enjoyable film. Of course, it’s no Forrest Gump or Green Mile – these sequels are designed to rake in box office credits, not make the audience think too much.
I like how the story sets up the characters for their future roles – Storm, for example, is a minor character – but we get to know how she came to join the X-Men. We see the young characters of Jean Grey, Cyclops and Nightcrawler, future leaders: and how they learn to control their powers, grapple with uncertainties and rise above challenges.
The CGI though, is pretty over the top. Scenes of destruction abound ala 2012 – so much so that one wonders how anyone can rebuild anything in time for the next X-Men movie. Dialogue felt forced and choppy in parts, like when James McAvoy’s Professor X was pleading with Jean Grey to tap into her psychic powers and stop En Sabah Nur. While McAvoy did his best to pull off a believable scene, it still seemed jointy and cliche.
That aside, the characters were played well by their respective actors, especially Nightcrawler (who is my favourite X-Men, by the way!) who provides comic relief and is super underrated in the X-Men universe, imo.
Overall, X-Men Apocalypse is your generic superhero/villain Hollywood film which follows your standard good v. evil, young Padawan formula. If I were to compare earlier ‘New-gen’ X-Men films (the ones set in the past and featuring McAvoy), my favourite is still X-Men: First Class. There was a genuine connection between McAvoy’s Charles Xavier and Michael Fassbender’s Magneto, and it was fascinating to see their friendship and how they eventually came to such different stations in life – that of the leaders of the X-Men and the Brotherhood, respectively. In this new film, Xavier became, for the most part, a damsel in distress,whereas Magneto is all emo and sht about his family being killed, so the focus was really on developing the story around the young blood.
PS: Did you know Jennifer Lawrence (Raven/Mystique) and Nicholas Hoult
is so cute (Hank/Beast) used to date back in 2010, before they split up in 2014? Must be awkward working with an ex.. lol.