There’s Nothing World-Shaking about X-Men: Apocalypse
- Ryan Duncan
- 2016 25 May
While not exactly a step backward, X-Men: Apocalypse does nothing to broaden the Marvel franchise either. Saddled with a mediocre villain and an out-of-control narrative, the film manages to salvage itself through the strength of its cast, but just barely. 3 out of 5.
Want Another Take? Watch Our 3-Minute Video Review of X-Men: Apocalypse
After centuries of slumber beneath the earth, En Sabah Nur (aka Apocalypse), the world’s first mutant, awakens to find civilization has changed beyond recognition. Furious that humanity has forgotten him, Apocalypse recruits four powerful mutants to aid him in destroying the planet and reshaping it to his will. The only thing standing in his way are a group of young students who have taken up the mantel of X-Men. Together, they vow to protect humanity and fight this extinction-level event.
X-Men: Apocalypse has assembled an impressive cast, and this ultimately becomes its biggest strength. The new additions of Cyclops, Jean Grey, Nightcrawler, and Storm (played, respectively, by Tye Sheridan, Sophie Turner, Kodi Smit-McPhee, and Alexandra Shipp) help rejuvenate the characters and make them more relatable. Nightcrawler in particular adds some much needed innocence and mirth to the story. Evan Peters' Quicksilver once again steals every scene he's in, while Nicholas Hoult and Jennifer Lawrence breeze through the film as the mutants Beast and Mystique. Lastly, with copious amounts of action, danger, and hidden callbacks, comic book fans should be more than satisfied with Apocalypse.
For someone who fancies himself a god, Apocalypse is a pretty underwhelming villain. Oscar Isaac manages to give the character a modicum of respect, but that doesn't stop him from looking like a rejected Power Rangers monster. The Four Horsemen are similarly wasted; Olivia Munn's Psylocke is given nothing to do but stand around and pout, while Magneto (Michael Fassbender) is shoehorned into the story through a preposterous chain of events. None of these characters are given any motivation to follow Apocalypse, yet they do so blindly. As for the plot, the film takes a jarring left turn midway through for no other discernable reason than to give Wolverine a cameo. The disappointing result is a weak story shaped by weaker characters, peppered with some offensive religious statements.
Christian Worldview Elements / Spiritual Themes
X-Men: Apocalypse is rife with religious symbolism, but not in a way that compliments Christianity. Apocalypse considers himself a god, and routinely hijacks Judeo-Christian imagery for his own use. In one particularly cringeworthy scene, the villain claims to be "Elohim," along with Ra, Vishnu, and a whole host of other deities. When destroying the world's nuclear weaponry, Apocalypse shouts "You can shoot your arrows from the Tower of Babel, but you cannot hit god." Apocalypse also refers to his followers as "The Four Horsemen," something one character suggests the Bible copied for itself.
There are also a handful of moments when the villain refers to Storm as his "goddess" and another follower as his "angel." The one positive beacon is the character Nightcrawler, who is a Christian and is frequently shown praying. Overall, this is not a movie conservative Christians will enjoy.
CAUTIONS (may contain spoilers)
- MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of violence, action and destruction, brief strong language and some suggestive images
- Language/Profanity: The Lord’s name is frequently taken in vain, one instance of the f-word
- Sexuality/Nudity: Mystique’s true form is often depicted without clothing though prosthetics cover her genitals, Psylocke wears a revealing outfit, a few men are shown bare-chested, Xavier admits to “looking in” on a female character.
Violence/Frightening Images: Widespread displays of destruction, people are incinerated, skinned, and disintegrated, Wolverine stabs a number of soldiers, one character dies in an explosion, missiles are launched but do not detonate, a woman and her daughter are killed by an arrow, several characters are crushed by falling rocks, Angel's wings are regrown in a violent and unsettling manner, a plane crash, a building explodes, Magneto cuts the throats of several men, Apocalypse beheads several men and traps others in solid rock, a character’s leg is broken, Psylocke fights with a sword.
The Bottom Line
RECOMMENDED FOR: Fans of comic books and superhero movies; people looking for a mindless summer movie; atheists.
NOT RECOMMENDED FOR: Conservative Christians; those squeamish to violence; people who are not fans of science-fiction.
X-Men: Apocalypse, directed by Bryan Singer, opened in theaters May 27, 2016; available for home viewing October 4, 2016. It runs 136 minutes and stars James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Oscar Isaac, Evan Peters, Sophie Turner, Olivia Munn, and Ben Hardy. Watch the trailer for X-Men: Apocalypse here.
Ryan Duncan is Entertainment Editor for Crosswalk.com.
Publication date: May 27, 2016