X-Men: Apocalypse May 18, 2016 X-MEN: APOCALYPSE (USA/12A/143mins) Directed by Bryan Singer. Starring James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Rose Byrne, Nicholas Hoult, Oscar Isaac, Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Evan Peters. THE PLOT: When the world’s first mutant, Apocalypse (Isaac), awakens from a deep, deep sleep, he’s soon rallying a small group of henchmen around him as he sets out to rid the world of, well, underachieving bums like you and me. Soon after he loses his wife and kid, and smalltown Polish factory worker identity, Magneto (Fassbender) becomes Apocalypse’s right-hand man for his dastardly world-cleansing plan. Meanwhile, in another part of town, Professor Charles Xavier is having a little trouble teaming up against Apocalypse and co with his beloved CIA agent Moira MacTaggert (Byrne) after he wiped all memory of their love affair from her mind. Suffering a different kind of growing pain are Jean Grey (Turner) and Scott Summers (Sheridan), each feeling that they don’t really belong at Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters… THE VERDICT: Following pretty much the exact same pattern as 2014’s Days Of Future Past, the new ‘X-Men’ starts off pretty damn ropey, all by-the-numbers plotting, ‘Star Trek’ set designs and second-rate cosplay costumes. And then that little Billy Whizz Quicksilver shows up in delicious slo-mo and sets the world to rights. And just as with that 2014 outing, the latest instalment of this hit-and-miss comic book superhero franchise suddenly gets interesting. And funny. And even groovy. There’s lots to overcome here, which may explain that slow first half. McAvoy doesn’t quite deliver the necessary gravitas as the Prof, ‘Game of Thrones’ ginger Sophie Turner initially seems more like a pubescent Boy George than a teenage Jean Grey, and the big Mr Deep Freeze baddie of the piece looks like he was designed, and made, by a 12-year-old. Still, all’s pretty good that ends pretty good, as they’re forced to say quite a lot in Hollywood – and ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ ends pretty good. RATING: 3/5 Review by Paul Byrne X-Men: ApocalypseReview by Paul Byrne2016-05-183.0Interesting & even groovy filmbuff2011 The ever-popular and durable X-Men franchise continues and concludes in a sense with X-Men: Apocalypse. That is, the prequel storyline that began with First Class and continued with Days Of Future Past. This time, the big bad is Apocalypse, who was briefly hinted at in the post-credits scene of the previous film. It’s 1983 and a decade after the mutants made their presence known to the world, there’s still an uneasy alliance between humans and mutants. Charles (James McAvoy) is now running his school for gifted children, along with Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) and Hank (Nicholas Hoult). They take under their wings new arrivals Scott (Tye Sheridan) and Jean (Sophie Turner), who have immense power but have difficulty keeping it under control. Erik (Michael Fassbender) is laying low in Poland, now playing family man. That is, until a personal tragedy which turns him back into himself to face his seething anger. This is something which draws Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac), a newly-resurrected Egyptian God who is said to be the first mutant. He sets out to tap into Erik’s power and gather his four horsemen to take over the world, wipe it clean with an extinction and start all over again… There’s a scene around half-way through the film when Jean and Scott walk out of a cinema having just seen Return Of The Jedi. They jokingly comment that the third film is always the worst. With a sly, possibly self-referential, in-joke like that, the film is almost asking for trouble. Thankfully, Apocalypse isn’t the worst of the prequel trilogy. It’s just not the best, which is a kinder way of putting it. First Class and Days Of Future Past worked so well because we got to know the characters from early on, as if anew. The 60s and 70s time periods were also more interesting storywise and reflected spy coolness and Government paranoia respectively. The 80s doesn’t have a whole lot to offer the X-Men, other than late Cold War panic. Another issue is big bad Apocalypse. Despite Isaac doing his best to get through the make-up, the character never really takes off. He has a particular way of killing people, merging them into walls and floors which is strange rather than threatening. He doesn’t seem all that powerful either – Magneto could easily take him on. Despite the arch villain being a bit of a let-down, there’s still plenty to enjoy here. Watching Apocalypse is a bit like watching Revenge Of The Sith – the remaining pieces are falling into place, joining the dots to the original trilogy. There goes Charles’ hair, here comes the bristling tension between Jean and Scott. It’s definitely fun to watch and the actors are clearly relishing what might be their last chance to be X-Men. Once again, Evan Peters’ Quicksilver steals the show with some hilarious last-minute saves. Returning again to the X-fold, Bryan Singer directs with passion and verve, creating a thrilling opening sequence set in ancient Egypt right through to a suitably apocalyptic finale. Thankfully, there’s no questioning of the extinction-level damage done here, as in two other superhero films in the last few weeks. We just accept these mutants for who they are, so there’s a hint that the world is moving on from its fear of the unknown. The story arcs of Charles and Erik feel particularly satisfying – best of friends… or best of enemies? There’s still room for more, with writer/producer Simon Kinberg recently stating that if there was another film, it would be set in the 90s. X-Men: Apocalypse may be flawed, but it still hits the X mark. As usual, stay for the very end credits for an extra scene. *** emerb Director Bryan Singer effectively rebooted the franchise with “X-Men: First Class” in 2001 and now he returns with his fourth movie and the third big Marvel outing this year following the surprise smash “Deadpool “ and “Captain America: Civil War”. Singer brings back all our old favourites – James McAvoy’s Professor X, Michael Fassbender’s Magneto, Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique and Nicholas Hoult’s The Beast but here they’re joined by new and younger versions. This movie feels like a real superhero movie and kudos to Singer for cleverly mixing and matching from different eras of the comics and still making it work as a cohesive story. Set 10 years after “Days of Future Past,” Professor Xavier’s class of super-powered outcasts has to take on a new threat in the form of Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac), allegedly the world’s first and most powerful mutant, who ruled the world of ancient Egypt before being trapped under his pyramid for centuries. Now he wants to eradicate humanity and rule the planet, using the powers of the mutants. The plot begins with the awakening of Apocalypse in the early ‘80s at the height of the Cold War and he isn’t happy with the state of humanity after his 6000 years asleep. He is an ancient, all-powerful Egyptian being who can, by transferring his consciousness, absorb the abilities of all other mutants. He decides to start anew and his first victims are a group of Cairo hoodlums that he beheads softly with a handful of dust, and another man he just as gently turns into a wall. He recruits a cadre of young mutants, including the weather-controlling Storm (Alexandra Shipp), the high-flying Angel (Ben Hardy), and the slicing Psylocke (Oliva Munn) and together they capture X-men leader Charles Xavier in order to seize his mutant-tracking system. While he wants to take control of all the mutants, his first focus is the uniquely powerful Magneto (Fassbender), who as usual is torn between good and evil and between his wounded psyche and desire for justice. Along with Raven, aka Mystique, The Beast and Xavier’s former flame and now-amnesiac CIA agent Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne), they must control the Apocalypse before he reigns supreme. To help them out, a group of Xavier’s students — including teleporting Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee), telepath Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), and powerful-eye-shooter Cyclops (Tye Sheridan) — join forces to rescue their leader and prevent disaster from striking. Singer has a great cast at his disposal. For me, Fassbender is the standout and one of the best pieces of casting in the entire franchise. He plays Magneto as a profoundly sensitive man who has turned evil in reaction to the cruelty he has experienced. His steely-eyed commitment to his character makes every single scene he plays feel like it’s the most important scene in the film. Isaac is effective as Apocalypse, both ridiculous and yet chilling. The new cast of good guys are likeable too. In a film this overloaded with plot and characters, it’s easy to get lost, and Turner, Sheridan, and Smit-McPhee all manage to make an impression. Evan Peters, as the young, impetuous Quicksilver, is another one of the highlights. Singer provides him with a super signature sequence that shows off the kid’s super-speed with good humour and clever craftsmanship. I really enjoyed the energy of the film and the cast is pretty solid throughout although “X-Men : Apocalypse” is not without its flaws. It is too long, there are too many characters and not always enough time to develop some of the relationships. However, it’s a credit to Singer and screenwriter Simon Kinberg that they keep this potentially unwieldy story engaging and it movies forward with quippy dialogue, flamboyant displays, impressive action sequences and terrifying exchanges. Good reviews and stellar word of mouth are likely to ensure this will be one of the “must see” blockbusters this season. Even those who are tiring of the endless parade of superhero flicks are likely to be tempted to check out this one. “X-Men: Apocalypse” gives you plenty of entertainment and, as with the previous two movies, it is very impressive in terms of CGI action. I thought the change in focus to the younger characters at the end worked very well and we certainly will want to see more of these new X-men. As franchise management goes, this is a largely effective spectacle and you are not likely to come out disappointed.