'X-Men: Apocalypse' isn't an end or a beginning : Cnet


Bryan Singer shaped the DNA of the modern comic book movie. Don't let anyone tell you different. "X-Men", released in 2000, and "X2", the 2003 sequel, became the blueprint for the "realistic" superhero. You can trace the lines directly to Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy and Marvel's Cinematic Universe. It was clear Singer knew what he was doing at the helm of the X-Men franchise.

Between those two movies and the criminally underrated "Superman Returns", the dude understood superheroes. "X-Men: Apocalypse" is his latest spin behind the X-wheel. Like his return to the franchise with 2014's "Days of Future Past", Singer has set his sights on one of the most famous comic book story lines in the X-Men canon.

 If you're an X-men die-hard, there's a feast of fan service for the entire two-and-a-half-hour running time. If you're not, you'll still find a few standout moments peppered throughout. The only problem is that we've had over a decade of superhero movies between "X2" and "Apocalypse", and good enough might not be good enough anymore.


That's not to say "Apocalypse" isn't entertaining. On paper, it flirts with the same problems that plagued the derided "X-Men 3: The Last Stand", but it still manages to pull together all the cameos, nods to previous films, ever-expanding cast, multiple character threads and apocalyptic stakes into something coherent. And "Apocalypse" can't be faulted for ambition. It's the biggest X-Men movie put on screen. It's all done in true comic book style, too. You dive in and keep up.

You won't get any origin stories and all the fights are big, four-colour hero pose stuff. Characters make cameo appearances just because they can. The dialogue is patchy, but you can practically see the speech bubbles. There's also a lot of time spent bridging the gap between his original movies and the rebooted "X-Men: First Class". This is Singer's X-Men again, and if there's one problem, it's that he is building his universe at the expense of this movie.

Torches are passed to a new generation of actors playing the principal X-Men. Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark to all you "Game of Thrones" fans) is the standout from the new crop as Jean Grey, the team's resident telekinetic. Evan Peters reprises his breakout role as Quicksilver, and his extended action sequence stands head and shoulders above any other fight scene in the film, even if it is just a longer version of his scene in "Days of Future Past".

 The flip side of this is so many characters are crammed into "Apocalypse" that some of them are bound to get short-changed. Olivia Munn as a picture-perfect Psylocke doesn't get nearly enough screen time, and Lana Condor's Jubilee makes an appearance in her yellow trench coat and that's about it. Oscar Isaac plays Apocalypse himself, but he's just another forgettable antagonist in the modern onslaught of Big Purple Villains. (See also: Thanos, Darkseid.)