More than one critic has noted that the good guys have gone up against each other in a number of recent superhero movies. Batman battled Superman in Zack Snyder's sloppy Batman V Superman; the Avengers engaged in a veritable civil war in Captain America: Civil War. Now, the X-Men get into the mix with X-Men: Apocalypse, which opens area-wide on Friday.
While the aforementioned Batman V Superman and Captain America: Civil War suggested a commentary on the contemporary political world and the deep divides within political parties, The X-Men: Apocalypse lacks that kind of depth. The film ultimately suffers from a slow moving plot and the introduction of several new characters that fail to add anything significant to the franchise.
The ninth installment in the X-Men film series, the movie centers on a certain ancient cyber-mutant En Sabah Nur/Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) who awakens and begins recruiting accomplices who'll help him take over the world. He adds reinforcement with his "Four Horsemen" and enlists the aid of mutants Angel/Archangel (Ben Hardy), Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Psylocke (Olivia Munn) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender), who's still reeling from the death of his wife and daughter.
On the good guy side, the film introduces a number of new characters including Scott Summers (Tye Sheridan), who uncontrollably shoots optic laser beams from his eyes, and Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee), a mutant with telekinetic powers. These new characters, however, pale compared to the old ones as top shelf talents like Jennifer Lawrence, James McAvoy and Nicholas Hoult reprise their roles as Mystique, Professor X and Beast, respectively.
The plot predictably leads to a showdown between the X-Men and En Sabah Nur, whose power grows after he hacks into Xavier's mind and tries to overpower him in his quest to control all mutants and destroy the entire planet.
The special effects here aren't great; the moment when En Sabah Nur/Apocalypse emerges from his tomb buried deep in the earth resembles a scene out of Raiders of the Lost Ark. X-Men: Apocalypse isn't a bad movie, but it just doesn't compare favorably to the year's other superhero flicks.