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SUPERHERO MOVIES: Good, Bad & Elektra

By alicebg, Sep 6 2017 07:11PM

In this episode: X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)

For his fourth, and evidently final, X-Men movie, Bryan singer promised to pull out all the stops and pitch the Merry Mutants against a truly monumental villian. Unfortunately, his pitching proved to be a little off.

Apocalypse is not a bad film, as you may have been led to believe. Like all the X-Men films, it has some impressive action, neat character interaction and moments of pure cool (Psylocke slicing a car in half springs instantly to mind). But what it doesn't have is a coherent or indeed comprehensible plot.

Sort-of following on from Days of Future Past's epic reset, Apocalypse moves the action into the 1980s (via an over-extended preamble set in ancient Egypt). Having - albeit inadvertently - saved Nixon, Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) is now a cult heroine running an underground railroad for oppressed mutants. Meanwhile, Caherles Xavier's (James McAvoy) reinstated school has some potentially dangerous new pupils, in the form of Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) and Scott Summers (Tye Sheridan). Magneto (Michael Fassbinder), bizarrely, has blended into normality as a married factory worker.

This fragile status quo is shattered by the resurrection of Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac), a super-powerful mutant who ruled the world in Egyptian times before being entombed, and now is back to reclaim his status, beginning with acquiring four mutants to serve as his 'horsemen' - Magneto is high on his list.

Apocalypse himself is one of the film's major drawbacks. Despite a lot of ominous posturing, and an actually quite interesting plan to make himself even more powerful, he never quite establishes himself as the 'planetary level' threat he's supposed to be. Similarly, the 'horsemen' are a mixed bunch: Magneto's back-story is a little overcooked (and his role in Apocalypse's plans not entirely clear); Alexandra Shipp is an impressive young Storm; Olivia Munn as Psylocke is completely wasted and Ben Hardy an utter irrelevance as a completely useless Angel.

The net result is a film that blips around, sometimes impressively, often to no great effect. Perhaps its most worrying aspect is that it appears to be setting up another run at the Phoenix Saga, again without Singer - we all know what happened the last time...

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