MOVIE REVIEW: 'X-Men: Apocalypse'

Posted at 6:45 AM, May 27, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-27 09:53:30-04

Phil Villarreal's novel, Zeta Male, is available at Amazon.

The 2016 superhero movie year is designed to make little kids sob. The recurring theme has good guys turn against each other in the most disturbing and brutal ways. Batman beats Superman into a bloody, weeping pulp. Captain America rips out Iron Man's electronic heart. And now, in "X-Men: Apocalypse," traditional X-Men get in with the wrong crowd, become ex-X-Men and turn against the heroes.

What's odder than the sight of Angel and Storm raising hail against superfriends Professor X, Beast and Cyclops, is that the hero-on-hero violence concept has yet to wear thin. When good guys tangle, there's genuine suspense about the outcome, and there's also the dizzying spectacle of watching traditionally complementary powers clash instead of collaborate. 

The main knock against movies like this is that the reasons to get heroes to fight each other is usually forced and artificial, and their justifications for setting aside their differences to take on a common antagonist is even worse. "X-Men: Apocalypse" falls goes all-in on such sloppiness, and stretches out its nonsense over an unnecessarily long 2.5 hours. 

On the upside, the ridiculous length gives you more time to hide away from the pre-summer heat to feast on the eye candy. Director Bryan Singer continues his spotless record of directing all the good movies in the franchises, while having wisely ducked out for the most terrible of the sequels.

Not only does Singer effortlessly juggle a superb cast (James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Rose Byrne, Olivia Munn and Sansa Stark herself, Sophie Turner), he harnesses an equally talented visual effects team to bring fanboy fantasies to sizzling CGI life.

Singer caps off the rebooted trilogy of more mature, emotionally resonant X-Men movies with the all-out action movie fireworks those films were building toward. We get exploding mansions, bodies melting into walls, and most intriguingly, mentalscape psych-out face-offs between Professor X (McAvoy) and ancient baddie founding father Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac).

Apocalypse, who has been buried in Egyptian pyramid rubble for thousands of years, makes his grand return by meeting up with mutants and enhancing their powers, which bizarrely convinces them to toss their morals aside and help him carry out his plans, which primarily include screaming and destroying the world. The 1980s setting means the fashion and hairstyle crimes outclass any of Apocalypse's dastardly designs, though.

It's no spoiler alert to reveal that any movie with fast-moving Quicksilver (Evan Peters) will inevitably star him in its best scene. Just as "X-Men: Days of Future Past" granted the Jim Croce song "Time in a Bottle" new popularity with its glorious Quicksilver sequence, this film does the same for the Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)." The sight of Peters zipping through still time is so chillingly brilliant that you wish they created an Oscar for best pop song special effects sequence.

Nothing else in the movie can live up to that resonant moment, but nor is it expected to. The Quicksilver moment is a metaphor for the rest of the film, which freezes time and dazzles you with effects wizardry -- logic and reasoning by damned. That's about the best you can hope for from a silly superhero flick.

RATING: 3 stars out of 4