X-Men: Apocalypse – The Road to Dark Phoenix

(from left) Jennifer Lawrence as Raven/Mystique, Rose Byrne as Moira MacTaggert, James McAvoy as Charles/Professor X, Lucas Till as Alex Summers/Havok and Nicholas Hoult as Hank McCoy/Beast, in X-MEN: APOCALYPSE. Photo Credit: Alan Markfield.

X-Men: Apocalypse may not be the satisfying third film in the series that one would like but it certainly does the job here.

After being teased during a post-credits scene, we meet En Sabah Nur (Oscar Isaac) aka Apocalypse just before the transference.  The next thing we know, it’s 1983 and Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne) awakens the sleeping mutant.  This also launches an earthquake felt across the globe.  At the same time, Mystique frees Kurt Wagner/Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) following a cage battle with Angel (Ben Hardy).  Some people in Berlin do not appear to be fans of mutants.

Scott Summers (Tye Sheridan) is beginning to develop his deadly mutant powers.  Older brother Alex (Lucas Till) takes him to his old stomping grounds.  Scott meets Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) for the first time and even though they might not realize it, this is the start of a beautiful romance.  Meanwhile, Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Hank McCoy/Beast (Nicholas Hoult) take a trip to CIA headquarters for a long-overdue reunion with Moira.  There’s just one problem as Charles took away her memories.  This certainly explains why humans had zero knowledge of mutants until after Mystique’s heroic actions.

While Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) had been leading a peaceful life in Poland, the aforementioned earthquake ruins it all.  He finds himself joining Apocalypse as one of his Four Horsemen alongside Angel, Psylocke (Olivia Munn), and Ororo Munroe/Storm (Alexandra Shipp).  We know that Storm will eventually join the X-Men.  It’s only a matter of time!  After Charles reaches out to Erik via Cerebro, Apocalypse comes calling and the X-Mansion gets destroyed in an attempt to stop him.  This is where Quicksilver (Evan Peters) gets a fantastic set piece.  Unfortunately, this comes following the aforementioned explosion.  After a scene-stealing performance two years earlier, it’s nice to see his return.

William Stryker (Josh Helman) comes back into the fold.  He’s still no fan of mutants.  This time, he takes in Hank, Raven, Peter, and Moira for questioning.  Jean, Scott, and Kurt follow when nobody is noticing.  At Stryker’s Akali Lake operation, Jean frees Weapon X (Hugh Jackman) and sets him free.  We know that he had been on his own with no memories for 15 years when he met the X-Men.  This only moves things just a few years earlier.  Anyway, everyone gets freed and set their eyes on rescuing Charles.  Funny enough, it’s Mystique being thrust into a leadership position!  We get a sense of what’s to come with Jean when she unleashes her Phoenix powers onto Apocalypse.

The one thing that I like about the film’s ending is the friendship between Charles and Erik.  Erik is less of a villain for the film in as much as he is an anti-hero.  Sure, he’s doing Apocalypse’s bidding for the second and third act but there’s still some good in him.  Erik is there to help Jean rebuild the X-Mansion at the end of the film.

I do have something that needs to be said about this film.  It takes place 20 years after X-Men: First Class.  We know that Mystique ages at half the right from a study of her blood cells.  What we don’t know is why nobody else is aging.  Charles remarks himself that Moira looks the same as when they last saw each other in 1962.  Again, it’s been twenty years!  I don’t have a lot to complain about the film because I mostly liked it.  This is just one of those things that I find nitpicky.  I’m sure I’ll be the same when it comes to Dark Phoenix.  There is a continuity issue when it comes to aging.

As far as the new timeline goes, I like some of what I’m seeing.  I’m especially liking how Mystique finds herself in a position of leadership. Given that Kurt is now with the X-Men, it becomes apparent that X2 doesn’t happen.  If it does, it’s been changed a bit slightly.  Time travel brings headaches.

All in all, X-Men: Apocalypse is alright if you can forgive the continuity errors since the characters don’t really seem to age.

DIRECTOR:  Bryan Singer
SCREENWRITER:  Simon Kinberg
CAST:  James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Oscar Isaac, Nicholas Hoult, Rose Byrne, Evan Peters, Tye Sheridan, Sophie Turner, Olivia Munn, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Alexandra Shipp, Lucas Till, Josh Helman, Ben Hardy, Lana Condor, Željko Ivanek, Anthony Konechny, Hugh Jackman

20th Century Fox opened X-Men: Apocalypse in theaters on May 27, 2016. The film is available on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital. Grade: 3.5/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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