X-Men: Apocalypse brings the franchise full circle and not in the best of ways. It attempts to age and dress the familiar characters of Professor Xavier and Magneto in the manner we expect them to end up as.
The classic characters of Cyclops, Jean and Storm all begin to pop up as this new generation enters the 1980s. But in trying to cover so much ground with so many characters, the story becomes crowded and clouded in a script that wants to do so much and rarely achieves any of its goals.
The villain for this picture is a mutant that is much simpler for X-Men despite his complex backstory. Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) appears in rather comic-booky attire as the legendary first mutant that has shaped mankind over generations. With his scaly and metallic Egyptian garb, he’s a little hard to take seriously considering he’s wearing a more traditional costume than the heroes – even dressing up his four mutant henchmen in their appropriate comic book fashion. It’s almost as if Apocalypse’s true goal is to make superheroes don the costumes they seem to refuse in these X-Men pictures.
That very well could be his goal considering his motives are very vague. We know that he can absorb mutant powers and enhance those that he comes into contact with. We know he looks down on humanity, but not with any particular disdain other than the disinterest of a god. His motivations become so muddled that his grand scheme of reshaping the world in his new vision of destruction and worship seems more out of superhero movie habit than any real character development. All dolled up in that garish getup, Oscar Isaac disappears into a role that could have been played by anyone based on his makeup and the voice modulation.
Apocalypse becomes the least interesting aspect of this story as the other characters have far more interesting arcs. Or, at least, they would have if given enough time to explore them. Magneto (Michael Fassbender) has changed the most as he has secluded himself to a factory job and settled down with a wife and child. Things are looking up for him until his mutant powers attract attention, and he has his life torn down once more.
This would be a great moment to display some grand nihilism in how he views humanity and mutants, but it’s merely played up as a simple excuse for him to put back on the helmet and cape. This glazed over aspect also makes the movie rather uneven in how Magneto seems to recover from losing this life rather well to fight Apocalypse and wittily banter with others. All it takes is one powerful scream towards the heavens and he’s over it.
Read more to get the details on James McAvoy’s and Jennifer Lawrence’s performances: