“X-Men: Apocalypse” is like a high school reunion of all your favorite mutants when they were still cute and awkward.
That is, if your reunion is crashed by a power-hungry bad guy who ruins the party for everyone and slaughters the story.
En Sabah Nur (Oscar Isaac), better and more concisely known as Apocalypse, is the world’s first mutant and one of the world’s most powerful. He just woke up from a long nap and is not happy with the way the world works. He recruits Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender), Angel (Ben Hardy), Ororo (Alexandra Shipp) and Psylocke (Olivia Munn) to help him to rebuild the world — if only those pesky X-Men wouldn’t stand in the way.
At Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, some new students have arrived, including Scott Summers (Tye Sheridan), Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) and Kurt Wagner (Kodi Smit-McPhee). These newbies would be more than happy to sit and do their “How to Control My Superpowers” homework, but the world needs to be saved.
So they suit up with the help of some familiar faces, Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult), Peter Maximoff (Evan Peters) and their fearless leader, professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy).
There’s certainly a long list of characters and cameos scattered throughout the film. But where “X-Men: Apocalypse” succeeds is in telling these characters’ stories. We’ve already seen Hank and Mystique save the world, and passing the torch to Scott and Jean takes fans back to the basics. These heroes are not quite heroes yet; they’re just a bunch of kids gifted with superhuman abilities they can’t control. It’s a joy watching them turn into the heroes you know they are and gel as the family of the X-Men.
Another unexpected joy is the use of humor to get there.
The pleasing parts of the film largely take place in the X-Mansion; the rest of the film is anticlimactic.
Whether or not Apocalypse succeeds in destroying the world doesn’t matter, because he manages to destroy the movie. For being one of the most powerful mutants in the Marvel universe, he’s just not that threatening. The big battle at the end isn’t nearly as super as fans want it to be, and how the story line even gets there is anyone’s guess.
There’s no doubt the world is in serious danger and Apocalypse is a force to be reckoned with; but with so many superhero films out — many being the X-Men franchise itself — it feels like the same song, but a different verse.
“X-Men: Apocalypse” won’t convert anyone new to the movie franchise, but fans should be able to look past the poor overall execution and welcome home characters old and new. As a big fan of the X-Men comics, I couldn’t help but leave the theater after the end credits with a huge nerd grin on my face.