The X-Men face their greatest foe in X-Men: Apocalypse. En Sabah Nur (Oscar Isaac) is the world’s first mutant, who was worshiped as a god in ancient Egypt, before he was betrayed and entombed for thousands of years. Upon awakening in 1983, En Sabah Nur decides to destroy the world and remake it in his own image. To do this, he recruits his “four horsemen” of Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Archangel (Ben Hardy), Psylocke (Olivia Munn), and Magneto (Michael Fassbender), who recently suffered a spirit breaking loss. Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), and Beast (Nicholas Hoult) try to stop En Sabah Nur’s plan, with the help of young mutants Cyclops (Tye Sheridan), Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee), and Quicksilver (Evan Peters).
The X-Men film series has faced many ups and downs in its sixteen year history. After two well-received films, the series went into a bit of a lull until it was rejuvenated somewhat with the 2011 prequel/reboot X-Men: First Class and its 2014 sequel X-Men: Days of Future Past, the latter of which saw the return of original director Bryan Singer and also acted somewhat as a curtain call for the original cast. In some ways, Days of Future Past would have been a great way to cap off the franchise, however it continues with X-Men: Apocalypse, which is meant to wrap up the trilogy of films by the new young cast.
X-Men: Apocalypse introduces the all-powerful first mutant En Sabah Nur, who is better known as simply Apocalypse. Viewing himself as a god, Apocalypse makes it his goal to destroy the world, making a better one in his place. To help accomplish this task, he recruits four followers, the most notable of which being Magneto, who had spent the previous decade trying to live a normal life in Poland, but personal tragedy reignites his hate for humanity. X-Men: Apocalypse is a much darker film than previous films in the series, with the film featuring much death and destruction, including a scene of Apocalypse causing cities around the world to crumble to the ground. The film also introduces younger versions of the traditional X-Men team, including Storm, Jean Grey, Cyclops, and Nightcrawler.
It can be a bit hard to get fully behind a film that is as dark and gloomy as X-Men: Apocalypse. The only true bit of fun in the film is a reprise of the scene-stealing antics of Quicksilver from the previous film, with his big moment being the main highlight for me. While I’m not as critical of Oscar Isaac’s performance as Apocalypse than others, he is a bit more of a typical “take over the world” villain, which overshadows the human rights issues that has always been a key component of the X-Men series.
X-Men: Apocalypse is far from the worst film in the franchise, but the series is once again in a bit of a downward spiral after the highs of Days of Future Past. This is one dark and gloomy entry to this saga and here’s hoping that things look brighter in the future.