The world’s first mutant, ‘Apocalypse’, is awoken from his 5,000 year slumber and quickly enlists four disciples. His mission? A cull of the human race. Meanwhile, Professor Xavier is trying to build a school where mutants can feel safe and live in harmony with humans. But with Apocalypse threatening to wipe out most life on the planet, is Xavier prepared for the fight that is to come?

X-Men: Apocalypse (2016) – Director: Bryan Singer

x men apocalypse movie poster

Rating: 12

Running Length: 144 minutes

Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence

Genre: Action, Sci-Fi, Comic Book

REVIEW

The increasingly confusing plot of the X-Men reboot / prequels / alternative timeline continued with ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’. Following on from ‘Days of Future Past’, the righteous Professor Xavier is building his ‘school for the gifted’ whilst his former partner, Erik Lehnsherr (‘Magneto’), is trying to lead a normal life with his wife and daughter. Once the power-super-boosting Apocalypse is awoken, his corrupting influence spreads among the disenfranchised mutants who enlist to his cause. Whilst this certainly makes for high-powered power-laden fights, it has the side effect of falling into the old ‘too many mutants’ trap.

When ‘Apocalypse’ spends time to allow the characterisation to breathe it does so very well. Magneto’s attempt to drop out from the public eye and rebuild his life gives great depth to the character’s motivations. Xavier’s desire to see the best in people drives his work towards building a safe haven. Mystique is uncomfortable with her ‘poster girl’ image and works in the shadows to rescue fellow mutants who are trapped and abused. The acting chops of Fassbender, McAvoy and Lawrence combined make for the backbone of the film. It’s therefore somewhat of a shame when the resulting action scenes end up drowning in mutants with little continuation of the great start. Apocalypse as a villain is a chilling presence with undeniable gravitas, albeit one who is so overpowered that, again, characterisation quickly falls by the wayside.

Whilst we will go into more detail below, there is also no denying that ‘Apocalypse’ is by far the most graphically violent of the comic book movies in recent memory. It is difficult to see where exactly director Singer was pitching the tone, as the movie is lacking the depth to be a memorable entry for adults, but is far too violent to be suitable for most children. X-Men as a franchise has always teetered between, at its best, having a strong character-driven core (with relatable themes of isolation, confusion and persecution) and, at its worst, over-balancing into special effects bonanzas lacking in a decent emotional anchor. ‘Apocalypse’ swings the pendulum into the latter, which is a shame given the good foundations laid early on.

IS ‘X:MEN: APOCALYPSE’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN

The movie opens with a scene that quickly becomes violent and the content is typical of the level of graphic violence throughout. Therefore, if you or your child are uncomfortable with the first 10 minutes we would advise that the rest of the movie may not be suitable.

The movie begins in ancient Egypt. A ritual is taking place with Apocalypse and a victim being placed side by side on sacrificial alters. A knife drags a cut along the abdomen of the victim and this is shown in close up. The skin parts and fatty cells are visible before the wound heals. This lasts 5 seconds. Once a fight breaks out two guards are blasted back by an energy force which instantly strips the skin from their bodies. Two skeletons smash against a wall and drop down off camera. A fire power burns two more guards who collapse onto the floor. Their suffering is sustained as they writhe in pain and this is shown in close up on their faces as they burn and the flesh melts away. Several people are crushed under falling masonry with arms and legs protruding visibly. One man is lifted in the air by a power and ‘compacted’, his limbs are broken in mid-air and bent into a cube shape around his torso before he is thrown against a wall.

Mystique arrives at a cage fight between two mutants. She is wearing a revealing dress that has a very low neckline and exposes some of her cleavage. Two mutants are fighting in the cage and one has large slashes on the back of his head which the camera lingers upon for a few seconds. Another character is thrown against the electrified cage and part of their body is burned.

During a prophetic dream several scenes are shown consumed by fire. This includes some people who are shown quickly to be burning.

One character is led to the woods where their family is threatened. A child cries in fear. As the situation escalates one character cries in anguish and the sadness and pain is shown for 10 seconds. This is followed by several deaths where an object is driven through the necks of the victims and blood spray is seen. Most are killed in the background of the shot with subdued sounds. However, two are shown quickly in the foreground.

One character steals something in a market in Egypt. She is chased by men who, when the catch up to her say ‘you know what we do with thieves. Pick a hand.’ Apocalypse attacks and one man is ‘absorbed’ into the wall. His face is left visible and his mouth held open. His eyes keep moving so it is clear he is alive but trapped in pain.

One character’s power is ‘boosted’ by Apocalypse which causes growths to push out of their back. The character cries with pain and this is graphically shown as the skin splits and spines grow out with ‘snapping’ sound effects. This is accompanied by heavy metal music which makes the scene quite intense.

Apocalypse talks to one character who has around 10 others standing behind him. In the background these characters all suddenly ‘melt’ into the floor. When the camera cuts so they are in the foreground, twitching hands and limbs can be seen protruding from the floor.

Given the level of threat Apocalypse poses in the above scenes and the fact he has a deep, threatening voice and ‘evil’ features, there is a scene that could frighten some children when he turns direct to the camera and hisses ‘there you are.’

One character established from a previous X-Men movie is standing right in front of an explosion. What happens isn’t shown but it is later clear that they have been killed. One character mourns their loss and cries although this is shown briefly.

Quicksilver is talking about his parents to another character. When clarifying what he means he says ‘well, he and my mother…’ and then makes a hand gesture with one finger sticking out.

One character is let loose in a military base. All the soldiers present are killed by being slashed and stabbed. For the most part these are quick and without blood, but the last two shows the character sitting on top of a soldier with the camera facing them whilst they stab repeatedly beneath the shot, and then the character slashes sideways at a soldier’s face. The camera pans quickly away before impact but a large spray of blood hits the wall behind him.

There is one scene of sustained strangulation where a male character chokes a female character for a prolonged and life threatening amount of time.

When the true extent of one character’s power is shown another character is killed by being repeatedly stripped of skin. This continues for several minutes with each new ‘wave’ of attack smashing away first armour, then clothing, then the skin is shown to melt away. These scene is very graphic and the skeleton is slowly exposed before the character dies.

Can I See A Clip?

VERDICT

‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ is an enjoyable and exciting movie that, as with the other two prequels, gives the characters that fans know and love more depth and background, however with so many mutants with fantastical powers and unique backstories, there could never have been enough screen time to give each one justice. Due to the strong and often graphic violence throughout, we feel that this movie is not suitable for kids aged under 12.

  • Violence: 5/5 (strong, bloody violence from the beginning)
  • Emotional Distress: 4/5 (a character is present when members of their family are killed and remembers a terrible hardship in their past) 
  • Fear Factor: 4/5 (Apocalypse is a particularly sinister villain who kills indiscriminately in violent, callous and disturbing ways)  
  • Sexual Content: 1/5 (some innuendo. Mystique in her ‘natural’ form is naked but her skin is entirely blue and other than the shape of her body, nothing graphic is seen)
  • Bad Language: 3/5 (some infrequent mild to moderate cursing and blasphemy. One strong word is used) 
  • Dialogue: 3/5 (some adult dialogue relating to death and murder)
  • Other notes: Deals with themes of fear of the unknown, distrust, betrayal, coping with the loss of loved ones, allowing people the chance to prove themselves, courage, fighting for good even when the odds are against you, acceptance and persecution.

Words by Mike Record

 

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