X-Men: Apocalypse Parent Review
This plea to contribute to a world peace comes wrapped in an inordinate amount of violent confrontations.
When an ancient mutant known as Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) is brought back to life in 1983 Egypt, he sets out to cleanse the world. The only chance for mankind’s survival are the X-men, but he is a formidable challenge for the fractured group of mutants. Lumbering, unstoppable and immortal, the self- proclaimed deity is the classic sort of action character sure to lead the plot to an inevitable concluding battle of brawn and super powers. However, the real meat of this movie isn’t watching Apocalypse mow down urban landscapes. Instead the most engaging moments of this installment of the Marvel comic franchise is when the script reveals additional backstory nuggets about the X-Men characters.
Since the positive publicity resulting from the mutants saving the U.S. President from being assassinated (as seen in X-Men: Days of Future Past), Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) has a more hopeful view of the future. His School for Gifted Children is growing with new students like Scott Summers (Tye Sheridan) and Jean Grey (Sophie Turner).
On the other side of the planet, Xavier’s cohort Magneto (Michael Fassbender) has given up his evil intentions and is trying to live a normal life with his wife and daughter (Carolina Bartczak and T.J. McGibbon) while working in a steel mill in Poland. But a mishap on the job accidentally exposes his mutant powers and leads to tragic consequences. Grieving and aching for revenge, Magneto then becomes easy pickings for Apocalypse who is looking for strong mutants to fill the role of his Four Horsemen – recruits who essentially become slaves to do the “divine” work of their persuasive master. His other “chosen” are Psylocke, Angel and Storm (Olivia Munn, Ben Hardy and Alexandra Shipp).
In response to the growing strength and aggressive actions of Apocalypse, Xavier also teams up with mutants willing to fight for Earth’s existence. Amongst them is CIA operative Dr. Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne) and Raven /Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence).
Although the script is building towards that ultimate (and lengthy) showdown, the violent action begins in the opening moments of the film. Special effects contribute to scenes that depict people being killed in highly creative ways, like being semi-integrated into cement walls and floors with only a few body parts and faces sticking out. Others are dispatched by more traditional means, including crushing, impaling, beatings and shooting. Many more are the implied victims of mass destruction and extensive property damage. The high water mark is a short scene where Logan, aka Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), uses the steel blades in his hands to slice and dice those who stand in his way. (It’s a bloody prelude to the next Wolverine movie that is rumored to be targeting an R-rating from the MPAA.) Profanities, although infrequent, include a single sexual expletive.
A couple of positive messages for teens and adults are mixed within the mayhem. Forgiving former hurts and redemption from mistakes, as well as accepting differences are themes integrated into the storyline. Perhaps the most commendable ideas center on how we let past experiences influence our future choices, and whether or not we decide to use our talents and skills (or mutant powers) to do good for others. Sadly, this plea to contribute to a better world comes wrapped in an inordinate amount of violent confrontations that support the Hollywood irony that peace can only be achieved through blood and fury.Directed by Bryan Singer. Starring Evan Peters, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender. Running time: 144 minutes. Updated August 22, 2016
Get details on profanity, sex and violence in X-Men: Apocalypse here.
X-Men: Apocalypse Parents Guide
Many of the mutants face distrust and discrimination. Some of the persecutions they endure are very serious. Yet each of them reacts to their situation differently. Why? What does their response say about their true self? How would you react if you were faced with similar circumstances?
Despite the prejudice they have endured, or the violent way they may have responded, the character of Charles Xavier chooses to have hope for both humans and mutants. What can we learn from his positive attitude? How might expressing faith in someone encourage them to make better choices? When might such optimism prove to be naïve?
Why is it human nature to mistrust things we don’t understand? How can that be both a survival instinct and a destructive behavior? How can differences be both a blessing and a curse? What can we do determine the best way to respond to uncertain situations?