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It’s The End Of The World As We Know It In X-Men: Apocalypse

There’s little doubt Bryan Singer has always been the lifeblood of the X-Men film franchise (sorry, Matthew Vaughn/not sorry, Brett Ratner), which is about to turn a whopping 16 years old soon after the sixth non-spin-off instalment, X-Men: Apocalypse, hits theatres Friday. Ever since we were first introduced to Marvel’s misfit mutants in the summer of 2000, it’s been a pretty wild ride that’s distinguished itself from the playful charms of the MCU and the colossal crankiness of the big-screen DC-verse.

First things first, X-Men: Apocalypse doesn’t hit as many high notes as 2012’s Days of Future Past, which did a marvel-ous job of streamlining the old and new class of mutants via a time travel plot that sent them back to 1973 and inadvertently exposed their kind to the world. On the upside, Apocalypse efficiently wraps things up for the older mutants while making a whole lotta room for a new generation.

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In the film’s prologue, we’re transported to ancient Egypt, where the world’s first mutants prepare their ruler, Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac), for a body swap with another mutant in order to extend his lifecycle and expand his powers so he can conquer the world and stuff. Of course, everything goes to hades and one of the X-Men’s soon-to-be most formidable foes is left dormant for thousands of years.

We then jump to 1983, exactly 10 years after the “past” events of Days of Future Past, where Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) is teaching a new age bracket of mutants gifted children. Meanwhile, part-time ally/part-time enemy Magneto (Michael Fassbender) has built a seemingly normal life for himself. Being as this is a $200+ million blockbuster, everyone’s peace is disturbed when Apocalypse rises from his slumber and resumes his world takeover thing.

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What ensues is a less narratively ambitious journey than the X-Men enjoyed in either First Class or Days of Future Past, but its boatload of new characters sure adds complexity to the proceedings. In fact, you might want to brush up on your mutant 101, because there are almost too many to keep track of here. While Apocalypse spends a good chunk of time introducing new faces and superpowers, one familiar mutant manages to steal the show yet again. Just as he did in the previous film, Evan Peters’ Quicksilver (no, not Wolverine, who also cameos) saves the day in another stand-out sequence that’s at once thrilling, hilarious, visually stunning, and, thanks to the sweet tunes of The Eurhythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This),” easy on the ears. Call it a rehash; I call it the best five minutes of the entire film.

Arriving on the heels of March’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and this month’s Captain America: Civil War, it’s uncanny how preoccupied this season has been with iconic superheroes airing their grievances with epic royal rumbles. Though very few people will be rooting for #TeamApocalypse, whose four horsemen consist of Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Psylocke (Olivia Munn), Angel (Ben Hardy), and Magneto, Singer and his very skilled cast somehow manage to make this umpteenth superhero smackdown work—for the most part.

In the end, Apocalypse doesn’t quite live up to its two predecessors, but is nevertheless a fun and occasionally rousing addition to the franchise. If there’s one thing it gets right, it’s investing in an exciting crop of young mutants (hello again, Nightcrawler, Cyclops, Jean Grey) we’re surely going to see a lot more of. Hits and misses aside, the film brings us closer than ever before to the kick-ass comics and cartoons we grew up with in the ’90s. That ain’t a bad thing at all.

X-Men: Apocalypse is out Friday in 2D and 3D screens. Check out the final trailer below:

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