“The third one sucks” - this line, uttered by Jean Grey about 'Star Wars' in ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’, in what was written as a cheeky reference to the third film in the X-Men series (you know, the one not directed by Bryan Singer) is now, upon Apocalypse’s release, ironic. In this, the sixth X-Men film (I refuse to acknowledge ‘Wolverine’ until they make a decent one, and ‘Deadpool’ is so good he’s in a league of his own), the world is under threat of annihilation and Magneto and Professor X are at odds. Sound familiar? If you’re a loyal X-Men viewer - as I am - it should, because it’s happened five bloody times before! Okay, I’ll admit that in the past films it’s been Mutants v Humans, usually with Magneto as the catalyst to the war, but this time... well, it’s still mutants versus humans, they’ve just put a different spin on it.
We start in ancient Egypt where a big blue 'Battlestar Earth'-looking mutant - let’s call him Apocalypse - in his ailing health, is about to transfer himself into the body of a fellow mutant, this one with regenerative healing powers (think Wolverine). The ceremony, involving golden-tipped pyramids and a legion of minions, in interrupted and a cork is shoved in Apocalypse (Oscar Issac). Fast forward to 1980s Egypt and he is awoken again, pissed that the world is now ruled by weak humans, filled with “superpowers” and he’s not God. Boo hoo, Apocalypse. Meanwhile, a teenage Scott Summers (Tye Sheridan) is just discovering his powers and being welcomed into the School for the Gifted. An equally teenage Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) is still fearful of her growing inner power and frightening the other students at the same time. And Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) is rescuing Angel (Ben Hardy) and Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) from cage fighting. Magneto is now in hiding in Poland with his wife and daughter (what!) but when he’s discovered, all hell breaks loose and he teams up with Apocalypse, who gifts all his followers with enhanced powers. Okay, let the battle between good and evil begin!
This same old story has now hit epic proportions.
Don’t get me wrong, this same old story has now hit epic proportions. I’m sure the directive was just “Bigger and More”... and also, more blue characters. There’s now four in total, forcing Mystique and Beast to undergo a bit of a makeover (not a fan) to differentiate them from the other blueys. Between the character design of Apocalypse himself, the mutants' enhanced powers, the Egypt sets and special effects, everything is on a much grander scale. But once again we see bridges collapsing, national landmarks crumbling, and cities being destroyed. None of this is new, not even for an X-Men film. They’ve even copied their own dialogue! ‘Days of Future Past’ opened them up to repetition once they started messing with timelines and affecting the past, therefore changing the future. At the same time it also gave them an annoying free pass to change the little corners they backed themselves into in past films, such as the reintroduction of Quicksilver and allowing Beast/Hank McCoy to appear in human form after “permanently” transforming himself into Beast back in ‘First Class’. Argh!
Look, if trilogies are the rule of thumb then this will be the last, once again giving the franchise a do-over come the next movie... if there is a next movie. As a fan, I hope there is. As a consumer, they may have lost me with this one.