Friday, May 27, 2016

As expected, ’X-Men: Apocalypse’ continues franchise with dazzling effects, impressive mutants

By Steve Crum
Maybe it is the imposing villain who is reminiscent of a dozen mummy movies. Perhaps the team of mutant heroes, each possessing unique superpowers, is the reason. No doubt the combination of these factors makes the latest X-Men movie, X-Men: Apocalypse, so dazzling and, yes, elegant. There is indeed an elegance to the action in Marvel movies, particularly the X-Men series. The rival DC comic book heroes have yet to attain that quality, at least in motion pictures. I speak as a long time DC comic book fan. 
That said, in this ninth movie of the X-Men franchise, there is not a whole lot of uniqueness. We know the main characters, including the actors who portray them. However, Oscar Isaac plays the super villain (a rather redundant phrase by now) impressively. The big bad guy this time around is a transplanted mutant born in the Egyptian days of yon, possessing telekinesis and telepathy as well as technopathy, super strength, and size control. Whew! Luckily, there are multiple X-Men to deal with the dual threats imposed on the modern world by En Sabah Nur aka Apocalypse. 
X-Men: Apocalypse is backstory #3 of the X-Men’s origin. That also means it is James McAvoy’s third time as the young Professor Charles Xavier, founder and leader of the mutant heroes. Like all X-Men stories in comic books or movies, mutants uneasily exist in a world dominated by fearful, suspicious, and too often prejudiced non-mutant, normal humans. So it is with X-Men: Apocalypse
The good, bad and ugly in this installment include Raven/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), Hank McCoy/Beast (Nicholas Hoult), Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne, a CIA agent—not a mutant), Peter Maximoff/Quicksilver (Evan Peters), Scott Summers/Cyclops (Tye Sheridan), Ororo Munroe/Storm aka Famine (Alexandra Shipp), Psylocke/Pestilence (Olivia Munn), Jean Grey/Phoenix (Sophie Turner), Angel/Archangel (Ben Hardy), and Alex Summers/Havok (Lucas Till). 
Providing comedy relief is the intriguing, long-tailed Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee). He is also my favorite mutant of them all. Talk about a layered personality. 
Look quickly for one action-packed sequence with Wolverine (Hugh Jackman). His inclusion occurs supposedly before he was known to either the X-Men or the world. What a cameo! You can’t miss creator Stan Lee’s bit this time around (he’s in every Marvel movie somewhere), but this time he is seen with his real life wife, Joan.

Speaking of action, this flick is gorged with explosions, super villains clobbering super heroes, heroes pounding villains, and entire cities being demolished. It all makes for a fantasy-fun, if not deafening, two hours and 24 minutes. 
As for the plot, which is reminiscent of several Mummy movies since Karloff’s in 1932, this mutant mummy type is buried alive in Egypt after he is betrayed by his worshippers, and entombed in suspended animation under his own pyramid. Centuries later, in 1983, he rises again to lead the new world and wreak havoc in the process. He soon encounters ultra-powered mutants to both fight and support his cause. One who sides with him is Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto, adeptly played by Michael Fassbender. 
So as not to give away too much of the plot, particularly how it all concludes, let us just say it is basically a huge pyramid scheme. 
Forgive me for that one, director Bryan Singer and screen scribe Simon Kinberg. 

GRADE on an A-F Scale: B-