X-Men: Apocalypse

Directed By: Bryan Singer

Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Oscar Isaac, Nicholas Hoult, Rose Byrne, Tye Sheridan, Sophie Turner, Olivia Munn, Lucas Till, Evan Peters, Kodi Smit-McPhee, and Alexandra Shipp

I'm starting to think that the final installment in X-Men trilogies is cursed because the third time is apparently not the charm for Fox's prequel trilogy.  Some ten years ago on Memorial Day weekend, I saw X-Men: The Last Stand.  At the time, I thought that the failures of this film were rooted in the fact that Bryan Singer chose directing the unfortunate Superman Returns instead of seeing his mutant vision to completion.  I was sure the film would have been better in his hands as opposed to those of Rush Hour director Brett Ratner.  Hindsight is 20/20 because I'm not so sure that actually held true.  The arrival of 2016's fourth live action comic book adaptation X-Men: Apocalypse has made me question this opinion I've held for so long.  After taking us to the mountaintop with Days of Future Past two years ago, Bryan Singer has taken us into the valley this time around.

Worshipped as a deity in ancient Egypt under the name En Sabah Nur, Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) is nearing death.  With the help of his Four Horsemen, the first mutant begins the process of transferring his consciousness and powers to another mutant, one who has regenerative capabilities and can give him eternal life.  Unfortunately for him, Apocalypse is betrayed by his servants and buried deep beneath the earth's surface under the wreckage of the pyramid he erected in his own honor.  In the present, CIA agent Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne) begins investigating the first mutant and traces some evidence to Cairo.  She's just in time to witness the awakening of Apocalypse, who sees what the world has become and does not look kindly upon it. Ready to take his world back, Apocalypse looks to forsaken mutants Magneto / Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender), Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Psylocke (Olivia Munn), and Angel (Ben Hardy) for disciples.

Across the globe, Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) is continuing to build his school for gifted mutants with the help of longtime friend Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult).  He's recruiting mutants with all sorts of powers including the especially talented Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), whose telepathic and telekinetic powers are without equal.  Thanks to Havoc (Lucas Till), his little brother Cyclops / Scott Summer (Tye Sheridan) enrolls at the school.  Despite the growing success of the school, one individual who is missing from Xavier's mansion is Raven / Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence).  Regarded as a hero by mutants and humans alike for taking down Magneto ten years ago in Washington, DC, she has been a vigilante rescuing struggling mutants in the shadows ever since.  When she learns of misfortune that has befallen Erik, she naturally goes to Charles, putting the professor and his X-Men on a path to encountering power like they've never felt in Apocalypse.

I spoke in my review of Captain America: Civil War of how less is more in the world of superhero movies.  Films that have violated this adage have more often than not fallen like dominoes.  Well, X-Men: Apocalypse is the next to fall.  Bloated in its attempt to conclude a trilogy, begin a new one, honor key storylines in past films, and introduce the two most powerful figures in the mutant-verse within a two hour span, Bryan Singer's latest foray into the X-Men franchise is poorly written and poorly executed.  With Singer trying to rebuild what has been built over a decade and a half in the course of a single movie, many plot developments come off as tangential at best and haphazard at worst.  Simply put, X-Men: Apocalypse is too much.  It's too damn much.

This latest installment in the long-running X-Men franchise lacks any creative zest.  It's abundantly clear given that Singer throws everything but the kitchen sink at moviegoers in this flick.  Where it is also quite clear is in the fact that this film lacks style.  Matthew Vaughn's First Class had a certain swagger that revitalized the series.  Singer's Days of Future Past had gravitas that emphasized the importance of stopping Trask and furthering the mutant cause.  In the case of X-Men: Apocalypse, there is no style, only blandness.  Here, the score bizarrely harkens back to the themes of the original X-Men trilogy instead of the prequel trilogy.  The pace is rushed given the overwhelming number of storylines Singer must service.  Most unfortunately, the film is hollow lacking the depth and nuance of its predecessors.  Simply put, X-Men: Apocalypse is a huge misstep for the franchise.

I'm mutant and proud, but this rating will pain me.  Despite the cast delivering a slew of solid performances — especially Sophie Turner as Jean Grey — the film just isn't on par with the films that precede it.  With the failure of Fantastic Four last year, this is another failure for Fox with its Marvel properties.  X-Men: Apocalypse gets a 0.09% rating.  Have a few rounds of gin and tonic with this one.