When running out of ideas, comic books are Hollywood's safe harbour. With little effort at writing and much focus on CGI and many recognisable faces among the cast and crew, the studios can come up with flicks at regular intervals that are likely to entice comic book enthusiasts. Occasionally, there are flicks that find favour with every movie goer; Marvel's own Deadpool and DC's Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight trilogy are those that could top the list.
Bryan Singer's latest offering—X-Men: Apocalypse, which succeeds the spectacular X-Men: First Class and equally intriguing X-Men: Days of Future Past—follows the rise and fall of the first mutant En Sabah Nur who wakes up from a slumber that lasted thousands of years. In his attempt to reign over the world, Nur spends half the screen time assembling his team of mutants or four Horsemen (not so subtle reference to the Book of Revelation there) and a lot of time trying to convince Professor Xavier why they need to team up.
It is 1983. Professor Xavier is busy running Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters; Magneto is in Poland, content with leading a quotidian life with a loving wife and daughter, and the shapeshifting Mystique is running around, rescuing hapless mutants who are reduced to fighting in pits for survival. There are more mutants discovering their powers every day and landing at the school. Everything seems to be going well until the first-ever mutant decides to make an entry with his team, which unfortunately includes Magneto. From then on, its all about blowing things up and around and building a pyramid for Nur to facilitate his taking over the world until the X-men decide to put an end to it by blowing up more things.
If you have revelled in the complexities and nuances that the last two X-men movies brought along, this mutants v/s mutants blitzkrieg will be a dull affair as it follows a predictable, linear storyline with little substance. The CGI isn't remarkable either and there are not many notable moments in the running time of 126 minutes.
The performances of the X-men regulars Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy and Nicholas Hoult are the only saving grace in this otherwise drab affair. Fassbender brings out the pathos in his character Magneto, whose rage at the loss of his family leads him to become the fourth horseman in En Sabah Nur's team and McAvoy impresses as the troubled telepath. Professor Xavier's encounter with Moira MacTaggert who he was in love with before he decided to wipe out her memories of him, is both poignant and amusing. Evan Peters's Quicksilver and Tye Sheridan as the confused Cyclops, who is terrified of his own powers, are noteworthy. However, there isn't anything particularly interesting or menacing about Oscar Isaac's En Sabah Nur whose constant blabbering about mutants ruling the world bores you while the rest of the cast, including Jennifer Lawrence's Mystique and Sophie Turner's Phoenix, are passable.
Hugh Jackman's Wolverine does a cameo that lasts a little longer than the dutiful Stan Lee appearances in Marvel flicks. It hardly takes any wit to realise that the only purpose of Jackman's blink-and-you-miss sequence in Apocalypse is to let audience know that there is a Wolverine sequel that will soon be dished out in the near future.
Somewhere during the movie, a few gifted students of the school get out to have a free day. Bored after watching the third instalment of a movie—the name of which escapes me—Phoenix makes an observation, which perfectly sums up X-Men: Apocalypse: “At least we can all agree the third one is always the worst”.
Film: X-Men: Apocalypse
Director: Bryan Singer
Cast: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Oscar Isaac, Jennifer Lawrence, Sophie Turner