One of the taglines for X-Men: Apocalypse is "prepare for the Apocalypse". Despite being newly-acquainted with the X-Men series, I went into Apocalypse feeling prepared, like a mutant with a curiously newfound superpower: knowledge. My trainers (my partner, friends, and the DVDs) gave me a crash course in X-Men history: enough to put together the basics. Thanks, guys!
The premise of X-Men: Apocalypse is this. In the age of the Pharoahs, a formidable god named Apocalypse, who has absorbed thousands of mutant powers over millennia, shifted bodies into a younger form. After a series of unfortunate accidents, Apocalypse was cased in a protection spell for years.
Thousands of years later (in the 1980s in all its boombox, neon, fluoro glory), a seemingly innocuous sense of curiosity awakened Apocalypse. Cue Apocalypse the god's mission - to rid the world of weapons. Cue apocalypse the event, showcasing worldwide destruction.
Most of the cast from the first two X-Men films (Final Class and Days of Future Past), James McAvoy as Professor X, who is a very wanted man, Alex (Havok), Raven/Mystique, Hank (Beast), Jean and of course the ever-tortured Erik (Magneto), once again confronted by insufferable loss and turned to the dark side to vent his pain.
Add to this familiars such as Quicksilver, plua new entrants like Kurt (Nightcrawler) and Scott (Cyclops). Then, of course, is a cameo by Wolverine, who is there for a brief slash-and-kill parade. Colonel Stryker again appears as the 'suave' guy who just wants to lock the X-Men up and experiment on them. Of course.
Raven, seeing the destruction, finds Professor X in quite a state, having given up hope. That changes quite quickly following his reignited love for Moira (the CIA agent). They find out that they have a bigger adversary than Magneto to deal with.
With the power of Apocalypse bearing down on the world, the addition of Psylocke, Angel and Storm, a newly recruited Magneto as Apocalypse's four sidekicks, and you have a good case of power for good vs power for evil. Those new X-Men recruits, fresh out of school, had better learn to fight. Fast.
After watching the first two films in the trilogy, this one focused less on character development and more on the buildup to the final fight scene, which considering Apocalypse's power, could have had so much more potential. I guess there's only so much combat, eye-lasering and throwing metal at people you can do.
If you're a hardcore fan of the X-Men film series, this film slots right in there as a good continuation of the trials and tribulations facing Professor X, his core clan and his students. The film even makes a couple of sly jokes at its own expense (they say the third film's always the worst). Even cameos from other X-Men characters not entirely in the right timeline appear. Why are they there? Because they can be. Simple.
Brian Singer does a decent job of directing the almost 2.5 hour film, produced by 20th Century Fox and Marvel. On top of that it seems like, with all the copyrights and rivalry between production companies, it's frustratingly limited what any of the films can do in their own blockbuster films. This may explain edging the budget towards the copious amounts of CGI special effects (which look believable and quite fantastic, by the way, but at times the green screen was blindingly obvious).
If you've been following the first two X-Men films, you'll want to see this one. If you haven't seen any, you will be able to identify the good guys, the bad guys, and the on-the-fence guys in a decent action flick.
The movies have their own world going on so if you're a hardcore comic fan you can be one of those keyboard warriors arguing over which is better for years, or you could have a break and just go watch the film.
Or you could just see that other light, jokey battlefest American superhero film playing at cinemas right now. Maybe open your minds (and your wallets) a little more and see both? Now there's an idea.
Rating: 3.5/5, but a solid 4/5 if you're a fan of the previous two films.