|Magneto doll on Amazon|
The other day, we sought refuge from a busted A/C by watching X-men: Apocalypse in the theater. It was a really hot day, so for once I was happy to sit through 45 minutes of trailers and ads followed by a two hour plus movie.
The trailers blur together now but they included Independence Day 2, Star Trek 3, Suicide Squad, the new Ghostbusters, World of Warcraft and Assassin's Creed, the new Bourne movie, a live-action Tarzan, and Infiltrator (guy who played Walter White goes undercover in Paolo Escobar's drug cartel).
And just before X-Men actually started, the actress who plays Storm came on screen with a "Thank you for watching our movie" message, which my kid pronounced as "weird." (Is that a thing now - special thank you for watching messages?)
Now, before we get into the movie, I have to warn you that I'm not really an X-Men fan. I've seen all the movies and so I know who the major characters are, but I don't read the comic books and so I don't know who new characters are and I get easily confused when they recast old characters. So I cheated and looked up character names before writing this.
And now, our feature presentation (minor spoilers)
X-Men: Apocalypse opens in Ancient Egypt, with a narrator talking about how people can abuse special powers by setting themselves up as gods. We see A procession of 5 litters, each with an ornately masked figure, while crowds lining the road bow and chant, headed to a pyramid which is covered with lines like a printed circuit board. They enter the pyramid and each figure is revealed to be a mutant. The pyramid is some kind of device that will power the lead mutant's transfer into a new body, one that can regenerate, "so that he may rule forever." But as the transfer starts, a conspiracy guards take out the supporting structures to the entrance, causing the pyramid to collapse. The four mutants die protecting the lead mutant, who is unconscious in his new body. (Throughout the movie I had no idea what the lead mutant's name is, but the interwebs tell me it is En Sabah Nur.)
Fast forward to 1983, in a pretty cool "tunnel out of the pyramid" sequence. We are in the timeline that follows X-Men: Days of Future Past, so Magneto is the world's most wanted criminal while Mystique is a hero to mutants everywhere (and to many humans). But she stays incognito, traveling the world saving mutants in bad situations, like
Scott Summer (Cyclops) is in high school and manifests his power for the first time (and accidentally destroying the school, which we all wanted to do at one time or another). Luckily his older brother Alex (Havok -who apparently was in the previous movie but I don't remember at all and had to look up just now) is there to help and he brings him to Xavier's school for the gifted. Despite what happened in the last movie, Xavier has dropped the idea of "X-Men" and just wants the kids to be students (which gives McCoy/Beast a sad). There Scott meets Jean Grey (aka Sansa Stark of Game of Thrones) who does not have any friends because her powers are not under control.
Magneto is also laying low, living as an iron worker in rural Poland, and he has a wife and daughter! Dude is actually happy. But he impulsively blows his cover by saving a co-worker from being crushed to death, and things unravel for him in the worst way.
Meanwhile, in Egypt, the pyramid is uncovered by a leftover sect of Nur worshipers, who CIA Agent Moira MacTaggert (whom Xavier was sweet on in X-Men: First Class) happened to be tailing. When sunlight hits the pyramid it re-activates, causing an earthquake, and she rushes out. Nur wakes but no one witnesses it, he just blends into Cairo, observing. He's not impressed, and when he happens to see a poor young Orora (Storm) using her powers to create a diversion while she steals some food from a street vendor, he recruits her as a follower. Apparently he can make mutants much more powerful than they normally are, and she gets her signature white hair as a side effect.
So that's the set-up: Nur is going to recruit three more mutants (because traditionally he always has a posse of four) and turn them into super-mutants, and together they will cleanse and renew the world. That's why he's the Apocalypse. Against him are Xavier and his untrained kids. In the middle is Magneto.
We thought it was a fun movie - lots of destruction, fights, things going boom. I liked Michael Fassbender's performance as Magneto a lot (good actor). I felt like the make-up on the villain, Nur, may have prevented me from appreciating his acting properly. Nightcrawler was a bit hammy, in a good way. Quicksilver (the super-fast guy from the last movie) was great. Jennifer Lawrence as Raven was a bit too much like Katniss of Hunger Games in demeanor.
We debated sitting through the credits but decided to leave when the movie ended, so we missed the bonus post-credits scene. I just looked it up and it is too spoilery for me to describe, but just be aware that it exists.