The stakes in the boringly apocalyptic X-Men: Apocalypse couldn’t be higher. Its long-entombed, ready-to-party mutant god, played by Oscar Isaac is both invincible and immortal, and he wants to control every single mind in every single human on Earth. The world’s nukes are unleashed willy-nilly, though that part works out fine. It’s a “just kidding!” moment of imminent global destruction.
Then the movie levels the entire city of Cairo, leaving (presumably) many millions dead and injured. Well, you can’t worry about everyone all the time. The film leaves the grieving and anger about collateral damage to this year’s major rival superhero franchise installments Batman v Superman (the bad one) and Captain America: Civil War (the good one).
This one’s “the OK one.”
I can’t recommend much about this latest X-Men picture without getting into problematic and somewhat embarrassing territory. For example, Olivia Munn. She’s barely in it, and she’s barely wearing much of barely anything, yet I spent much of Bryan Singer’s earnest, competently crafted slog texting notes to myself regarding a petition I’d like to circulate that launches Munn’s telepathic ninja warrior mutant Psylocke into her own franchise. She’s one of A-pock’s “four horsemen,” the woman with the devil in her eyes brandishing a digital lightsaber-y lasso.
X-Men: Apocalypse invests heavily in the moist-eyed emoting going on in the neighborhood of James McAvoy (Professor X, the one with the fancy boarding school for the specially gifted). The storyline requires Michael Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence (the conflicted Magneto and the conflicted Raven, respectively) to try their damndest not to look as bored as they likely are with these roles, better for their income than their craft. Munn’s a different, livelier story. She’s stoked.
After an ancient Egyptian prologue, we’re plunked down into 1983. Apocalypse comes back to life, looks around, and calls for a cleansing of the planet’s debris and weakness, like a mutant villain version of Travis Bickle. Screenwriter Simon Kinberg lumbers through the conflicts, pitting McAvoy’s man of reason and hope against his old pal Magneto’s darker impulses. Director Singer handles the traffic earnestly and well, with a modicum of snark and 1.5 teaspoons of levity. The movie is large, and long (two-and-a-half hours, the usual length lately with these products). The dialogue has a metallic, tinny ring (where’s Magneto when you need him?). John Dykstra supervised the visual effects, which are relentless and routine.
Cast: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Oscar Isaac, Nicholas Hoult, Rose Byrne, Evan Peters, Tye Sheridan, Sophie Turner, Olivia Munn.
Director: Bryan Singer.
Screenwriter: Simon Kinberg.
A 20th Century Fox release. Running time: 143 minutes. Brief strong language, violence, suggestive images. Playing at area theaters.