X-Men: Apocalypse12¦ Blu-ray, 3D, DVD
There's a war raging all around us. It's between mutants and superheroes, and if the box office figures are any indication, the superheroes are ahead. Of course the real winner is Disney, who own Marvel, as Mickey sits there with his iron Man costume on, lying on a sea of cash, counting the bucks fly in.
Audiences however, may well be losing their appetite as far as the X-Men franchise goes. On its release, this title made just shy of $544 million at the box office, which isn't too shabby until you compare it to the $1.153 billion that Captain America: Civil War made for the Avengers franchise. That's quite a body blow.
It's the ninth in the series, believe it or not, and the sequel to 2014's X-Men: Days of Future Past, but does the franchise's future look a bit on the bleak side with this release?
Inside a shiny new pyramid in old Egyptian times is En Sabah Nur (Oscar Isaac), who could be considered the first super-powered mutant. He starts to charge up his powers, but some of his worshippers turn on him, and decide to destroy the pyramid and entomb him. Luckily for Nur, his four lieutenants manage to keep him alive and preserve him there for thousands of years.
Fast forward to hip and happening 1983, when Nur awakens from his slumber and decides he wants to end the world and start again. Although powerful, he doesn't quite have the power to do it alone, so decides to recruit a few new mutants, Psylocke (Olivia Munn), Angel (Ben Hardy) and Ororo Munroe (Alexandra Shipp).
Meanwhile, the School for Gifted Youngsters, as run by Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), has a number of excelling young students on its books, including Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) and Scott Summers (Tye Sheridan). They are soon joined by alumni Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) with a young mutant Kurt AKA Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) in tow. She's heard bad news about Eric AKA Magneto (Michael Fassbender), and thinks he might be in a very dark place right now.
When Charles attempts to reach out to him using the Cerebro room, Nur pops into his head and begins to control him. This leads to all sorts of nasty, and sees the young ensemble team having to think fast on their mutant feet to not only save themselves, but all of humanity.
If you like a lot of whizz bang, then Apocalypse might well be for you. It certainly must have kept the CGI guys busy as not only every scene, but probably every frame, has some special effect slapped all over it. And when you consider the film's running time is nearly two and a half hours, that's a helluva lot of whizz bang.
As it's set in the early eighties, the film straddles between continuing stories and growing origin tales for new characters. Director Bryan Singer, who knows a thing or two about the X-Men franchise having directed three other instalments in the past, strikes a fine balance between the two, as well as work in the new baddie.
Unfortunately, it's in this area the film loses its mutant mojo. En Sabah Nur AKA Apocalypse, as played by a barely recognisable Isaac, has to be one of the dullest villains to grace the silver screen. Not only does he not have any real presence, he has zero personality and an outfit that makes the Tin Man's from The Wizard of Oz look impressive. His little group of sidekicks don't really help either. Without a meaningful foe, the battle feels slightly one-sided.
This means that regulars like Lawrence, McAvoy and, in particular, Fassbender who has to really wring out the emotional side of his character, have to work that little bit harder, but with so much going on, they don't have that much screen time to do it.
With the story only progressing slightly, it feels that the franchise as a whole is treading water. This instalment certainly looks impressive with its CGI laden scenes, but it feels at the expense of any kind of enthralling storyline. Some peppy dialogue would have helped lift it, but all the best lines seem to have been reserved for those cheeky Avengers.
Not the best in the series by any means, but sure to be a sloppy stepping stone to further X-Men shenanigans that are no doubt coming our way. So not quite the end of the world for the franchise yet, but it needs to pull its mutant socks up if it wants to keep up with the success of Captain America and his chums.