There is a brief meta-joke in the middle of "X-Men: Apocalypse". When a few of the mutants head out to catch a movie, we see them leaving "Return of the Jedi". The group argues about the best movie in the series, with one supporting "Empire", another singing the praises of "A New Hope", and finally they all agree that "the third movie is always the worst". The reference proved to be accurate, as this third in the series of rebooted X-Men movies ended up being the worst.

After the events of "Days of Future Past", the world is aware of mutants on a global scale. There are cults that begin to worship them, including one that aims to resurrect the one believed to be the first mutant, En Sabah Nur. He awakens from a centuries-long slumber to find a totally new world, one that has forgotten his stature of omnipotence, one that he wishes to cleanse and start anew. Apocalypse recruits his Four Horsemen (Magneto, Angel/Archangel, Psylocke, and Storm), and wages war against Professor X and the X-Men.

The original X-Men trilogy also suffered from a weak third movie. The "First Class" movie was the start of a reboot, which was followed by "Days of Future Past", which brought in an aspect of time travel that essentially let the writers and directors change anything they wanted. The continuity from the first trio to the Wolverine solo movies to the next trio is all over the place, but can basically be summed up as "it's an alternate timeline, comic books do this crap all the time, just roll with it."  Characters ages change, initial meetings are re-written, some characters are played by the same actors but some are replaced, and even if you just sit back and say "fine, whatever", it's still just distracting enough to be annoying.

There was actually only one thing I really enjoyed - Apocalypse's motivation. The man ruled the world one thousand years ago, ended up being betrayed and trapped. When he woke up, he saw a world divided, worshiping "false idols" other than him. It made sense that he wanted to start fresh, and I thought he was a pretty well-designed villain. Despite that, nothing else really clicked. The heroes were boring, the battle between Professor X and Magneto never felt as good as it has in previous movies.

I think the biggest problem I had was with a few of the actors. James McAvoy was solid, Michael Fassbender was great in his emotional scenes but never felt very imposing in the action scenes. Jennifer Lawrence was a total dud; I don't know if she is just tired of playing Mystique or what, but she was wooden the whole time. Everyone was psyched about Olivia Munn playing Psylocke, but I was left completely flat by her. She's far from unattractive, but I don't see why some people in the geek community go bonkers for her, and she's another example of a line-reader as opposed to an actress. I have loved Oscar Isaac in everything I've seen him in, but something about his portrayal of Apocalypse felt off. I don't know if it was the digital manipulation of his voice that came and went; would they have been better off going the route of Thanos in Guardians of the Galaxy, with a pitch-shifted Josh Brolin? Did an ancient Egyptian need to have the cliche British villain accent? I don't know if another actor would have fit better or if Isaac just wasn't as his best, I just know I felt like the character could have been much better.

If you're already invested in the X-Men Marvel Universe, you obviously need to keep up with what is happening, but for a casual fan, I feel like "Apocalypse" wouldn't be the worst movie to skip.

On the [Celluloid Hero] scale, "X-Men: Apocalypse" gets a 5 out of 10.




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