You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks


Welcome to

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on

“X-Men: Apocalypse” stumbles under its own weight

“Let us now start fresh without remembrance,” Professor Charles Xavier says near the beginning of Bryan Singer’s “X-Men: Apocalypse.”

He’s reading to students from T.H. White’s “The Once and Future King”; the quote is about building a future without revenge in one’s heart, which is to say that the mutant students at his “school for gifted youngsters” should use their powers to help humanity even as humanity has hated and feared them in the past.

But Prof. X (James McAvoy) might as well be saying to the audience, “Yeah, the continuity for these movies doesn’t make a lick of sense anymore, just go with it and there will be some punching later.”

Which would probably be okay were “X-Men: Apocalypse” not a soggy mess. This ninth X-Men movie doesn’t have the hostile-to-fun attitude of “Batman v Superman” as much as an exhausted, forced “Again with the mutants?” feel.

And the continuity stuff sure doesn’t help. After a zippy prologue in ancient Egypt to set up this flick’s titular big bad, we skip forward to 1983 (you can tell by the semi-mullets and men’s jackets). The public has known about mutants for about ten years, Xavier is running the school, and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) is living a quiet life as a steelworker in Poland. Nobody looks older than they looked in “X-Men: First Class,” which took place in 1963.

Things start rolling when the blue dude from the opening — an ancient, deeply powerful mutant named En Sabah Nur (Oscar Issac) — wakes up a few thousand years after he went to sleep only to find that the weak (non-mutants) are ruling the strong (mutants), and that is just unacceptable.

Sooner than you can say “plot device,” Magneto is flushed out of hiding and more annoyed than ever at humanity. Then some familiar faces return. Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) is trying to get Xavier to mobilize his students. Xavier is admitting to erasing the memory of his friend Moira McTaggert (Rose Byrne) of their previous encounter (boy, has that X-trope not aged well). And Havok (Lucas Till) is bringing his high school-aged brother Cyclops (Central Texan Tye Sheridan) to the school.

Wait, wasn’t Havok in his late teens in 1963 … nevermind.

Issac, often a brilliant actor, is all but unrecognizable under layers of blue makeup and body armor, but a distinctly Gob Bluth-ian vibe of “I’ve made a huge mistake” occasionally flashes across his performance. Surely, playing an iconic X-villain looked great on paper, but Issac spends most of his time standing around and pontificating, letting his four horsemen, aka mutant buttonmen, do his dirty work.

And confusing work it is. Even a plethora of new mutants — the god-like Jean Grey (Sophie Turner, struggling with an American accent), a reintroduced Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) and fanboy-fantasy-object Psylocke (Olivia Munn) — can’t quite save “Apocalypse” from its own muddled pacing, plotting and color palette, not to mention far too much CGI gunk and a self-seriousness that borders on offensive. New rule for superhero flicks: No scenes in Auschwitz, period.

Indeed, the massive cast works against the 147-minute movie — there are just too many folks to keep track of, and we learn next to nothing about most of them. By the two-hour mark, “Apocalypse” has a joyless, checklist feel: Obligatory, scene-stealing Quicksilver set piece, just like in “Future Past?” Yes (and Evan Peters is again excellent as the speedster). Obligatory Cerebro scenes? A few, in fact. Obligatory appearance by a guy with claws? Come on, that doesn’t even count as a spoiler.

In a summer packed with superhero movies, Fox’s “Apocalypse” has managed to get its lunch eaten not just by Disney/Marvel’s vastly superior “Captain America” but by their studio’s own X-spinoff, “Deadpool,” which has twice the heart and 10 times the humor on about a quarter of the budget. If this franchise is ever going to feel exciting again, the X-creatives would do well to take some cues from the Merc with a Mouth: ramp up the energy and take everything just a little less like the end of the world, even if that’s in the title.

And stop having Xavier mind-wipe people. That’s just creepy.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Movies & TV

How a common meditation technique can help you eat more healthfully

What if all the wisdom we needed to learn how to eat came from one little raisin? Nutrition will forever be a hot debate, with new science, and new fads. The value of each macronutrient (proteins, carbohydrates and fats) is always being disputed, and one is often looked at as the hero or enemy. We play with vitamins and minerals and discuss miracle...
Got Amazon Prime? You can now watch this top Oscar winner
Got Amazon Prime? You can now watch this top Oscar winner

Here’s a look at a few interesting new releases available to rent from cable and digital providers and a groundbreaking title recently available to stream. Video on Demand “Buster’s Mal Heart”: Sarah Adina Smith’s second feature film stars Rami Malek in a captivating go-for-broke dual performance as a man on the run in...
People think juice is good for them — they’re wrong
People think juice is good for them — they’re wrong

Mrs. G. came to our offices distraught: Her primary care doctor had just diagnosed her with diabetes, and she was shocked. She had always been overweight and had relatives with diabetes, but she believed she lived a healthy lifestyle. One habit she identified as healthy was drinking freshly squeezed juice every day. We asked her to stop drinking juice...
What we can learn from old nutrition books about eating healthy today
What we can learn from old nutrition books about eating healthy today

It’s too bad that the word “diet” has come to mean restricted eating. The broader idea of a diet — all the foods you eat — is a wonderful idea. It’s our personal landscape of the tastes, smells and textures that, over a day, a week, a month and beyond, keep us alive and determine much of our physical and mental health...
More events for Wednesday, May 31, and beyond

Music The Wine Down at 3Ten. The popular downtown music series has returned for another summer of live tunes, happy hour bites and drinks, and pop-up shops from local retailers. Held at ACL Live’s 3Ten venue, the monthly Wine Down has become a way for people to experience the Second Street District’s lively nights of shopping and dining...
More Stories