In a year that has already offered up a conveyor belt of comic book super hero movies, the latest, and last film in the X-Men theme month is X-Men : Apocalypse.
With Bryan Singer once again directing, this offers a third in the new series of X-Men movies (aka the McAvoy / Fassbender ‘FassAvoy’ trilogy), and Simon Ginsberg returns to write the screenplay having worked with Singer on the previous Days of Future Past.
Set in the early 1980’s, the world has found peaceful balance with the mutant population, in large part due to the events of the prior film. Xavier’s school for the gifted is well established as a learning facility and Magneto too has found peace now with a wife and child having retreated from the worldwide manhunt that he had been faced with.
However, the team find themselves pulled away from their comforts when a mutant from thousands of years ago is awoken and seeks to reek havoc on the world that he awakes to. Having always operated with four companions, he unites a team and sets about planning the destruction of the modern world.
We find a well established returning cast in the core group of James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult and Evan Peters returning to the series. Additionally we see the arrival of some familiar characters from the original trilogy in their much younger form, but I won’t name names.
For the villain – En Sabah Nur – is Oscar Isaacs who is very well hidden under huge levels of make up and a costume that does seem a little out of place and time. He is supported by Olivia Munn, Alexandra Shipp and Ben Hardy (along with Fassbender’s Magneto) as his traditional ‘Four Horsemen’.
Singer and the cast are well versed in the process of X-Men films now and its a well played, solid all round delivery that whilst an enjoyable return to characters that we know well, with the reliable mix of humour, action, mixed with some moments of darkness, does feel a little empty by the end of it. It has its self aware humour and moments of characters emerging into the ones we know well from earlier films.
Isaacs makes for a great villain and the cast all play their part, Fassbender especially standing out for me in this one. My issue is though that in the last two X-Men films, I’ve always felt that there was a real sense that the action scenes and special effects were there to augment the underlying story (be that cold war tale of characters coming to terms with who they are, or time travelling thriller). But here, it feels that the plot is more there to provide reasons for the action scenes and special effects. As a result, it has less of a real heart to the film and a missing sense of character led storylines.
Its the least of this trilogy but remains far above the Last Stand and above the two Wolverine films. In a year that has offered Deadpool and Civil War, this film may become forgettable very quickly.
(I can’t help but think in a few weeks I will be thinking nearer 6/10)