X-Men: Superhero saturation
For those who simply can’t get enough of big-budget superhero extravaganzas – and worldwide box-office receipts generally indicate a lot of people can’t get enough – here comes X: Men Apocalypse to keep the masses entertained. Although the film wasn’t produced by Marvel Studios, the property still being under the purview of the Twentieth Century Fox, these are still Marvel Comics characters.
Bryan Singer, who directed the original X-Men (2000) and X-2 (2003) – the latter still being among the best in the series – then returned with X-Men: First Class (2011) while only producing X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014), is back at the helm for this installment, which takes itself very seriously (much of the time) and, running nearly 150 minutes, leans toward over-length. (Naturally, there’s reason to stick around after the end credits.)
The basic framework is by now familiar: Assemble the characters, establish the threat, and proceed forthwith. The threat this time is titular “Apocalypse” (Oscar Isaac, buried under mounds of makeup), introduced in Egypt, circa 3,600 BC. This fiend, who may have been the “first” mutant, has spent a few millennia waiting to be unleashed, and in 1983 he’s on his feet, out of control, and making none-too-subtle overtures about conquering the world.
This inspires our requisite assortment of heroic mutants – James McAvoy’s Dr. Charles Xavier, Jennifer Lawrence’s blue-hued Mystique, Nicholas Hoult’s equally blue Beast, Evan Peters’ Quicksilver and series newcomers Kodi-Smit McPhee (Nightcrawler, also blue), Sophie Turner (Phoenix) and Tye Sheridan (Cyclops) – to unite against a common foe.
Michael Fassbender’s Magneto is here too, but circumstances compel him to throw his lot in with Apocalypse, leading to the inevitable final showdown. Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine has only a cameo – although it’s a showy one – but audiences can rest assured his next solo big-screen adventure is on its way. Not this summer, however. They don’t make these movies that quickly, although it sure sometimes seems that way.
With a story that spans the globe (Germany, Poland and the United States are visited) and a plethora of Biblical references, X-Men: Apocalypse isn’t bad, but it’s not particularly memorable, either – and we seem to have reached the saturation point where scenes of major cities and landmarks being laid waste simply aren’t as novel or impressive as they once were.
Likewise, after Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Captain America: Civil War – to say nothing of the earlier X-Men films – neither are scenes of superheroes using their powers to battle one another, no matter how impressive the special effects are.
Not that it matters. Before too long, another X-Men will mark the spot.