X-Men: Apocalypse

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Close to apocalyptic.

Movie Review #1,085

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Distributed by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi. Running time: 2 hours, 24 minutes. Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence, action and destruction, brief strong language and some suggestive images. Released May 27, 2016. Directed by Bryan Singer. Produced by Simon Kinberg, Hutch Parker, Lauren Shuler Donner, and Bryan Singer. Screenplay by Simon Kinberg. Story by Bryan Singer & Simon Kinberg & Michael Dougherty & Dan Harris. Starring James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Oscar Isaac, Rose Byrne, Evan Peters, Josh Helman, Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, Lucas Till, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Ben Hardy, Alexandra Shipp, Lana Condor, and Olivia Munn. With a cameo from Stan Lee.

The only thing slightly worse than a movie that’s bad from lack of trying is a movie that’s bad but not from lack of trying.  Therefore I guess you could say it’s fortunate that “X-Men: Apocalypse” is the former.  The movie is forgettable and ultimately feels pointless.  You’re not watching a barren wasteland of awfulness, but you’re still watching something that disappoints with its apathy to show us anything worth watching.

The first ridiculous aspect in “X-Men: Apocalypse” is its story.  It’s an interesting concept, until you realize how dumb it really sounds.  This film—a “threequel” in the series’ prequel trilogy, following “First Class” and “Days of Future Past”—ties the X-Men’s origins back to Ancient Egypt, of all things.  Here, we’re introduced to a villain named Apocalypse.  You see, Apocalypse was buried alive by a couple of traitors who had previously worshipped him.  He’s awoken by mistake in 1983, and in his new life, he perceives humanity as hopeless.  So he figures, “Why not kill everybody in sight and start from scratch?”

Let’s start at the beginning again, though.  “X-Men: Apocalypse” opens up in the Nile Valley, circa 3600 BCE.  We’re immediately brought into a random action sequence from inside an Egyptian pyramid.  Perhaps slightly more laughable than the action sequence itself is the title sequence that follows, where we go through an eye-aching vortex of special effects, stopping every five seconds to fixate on every object that seems to look like an “X.”  That’s the “X” in “X-Men,” in case you didn’t pick up on that.  Yes, this movie is actually that corny.

Next we have ridiculous backstories for the characters in the film.  My favorite involves Scott Summers (Tye Sheridan), otherwise known as Cyclops.  (And by my favorite, I mean that this is the dumbest thing in the whole film that’s actually enjoyable.)  Scott learns that he can shoot laser beams with his eyes, because after a guy chases him into the bathroom for inadvertently eyeballing his girlfriend, he shoots laser beams at the guy and fries him.

It’s difficult to keep up with “Apocalypse”.  The film cuts haphazardly from America to Egypt then back to America then back to Egypt, switching around from story to story, altering its focus from character to character to character.  What’s more, “Apocalypse” feels less like a “threequel” and more like the first film in a whole new series.  There’s so much exposition here, and most of it is, quite frankly, useless.  Let’s not also forget that the story is incredibly disjointed.

There really isn’t much to like about “X-Men: Apocalypse”.  The highlight of the film is a great performance by Jennifer Lawrence, on whom we can always rely, as Mystique, but even that is not enough to make the film sufficiently interesting.  For the most part, “Apocalypse” is nothing more than a drawn-out show of special effects.  I confess that I got so bored with the movie that I actually walked out of the theater.  The scenes at the gifted school where the young X-Men attend reminded me of a 1980s John Hughes movie, but not the good kind.  Just imagine “Weird Science” being a lot cornier, a lot dumber, and a lot more confusing, whilst also bearing the burden of a $178 million budget.

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