Despite a $178 million budget and striking visuals, “X-Men: Apocalypse” fails to distinguish itself from the multitude of superhero films recently filling theaters. The ninth installment of the X-Men film franchise begins by taking viewers back several millennia to ancient Egypt, where Apocalypse, the film’s antagonist, is introduced. The story kicks off once CIA agent Moira MacTaggert, played by Rose Byrne, accidentally reawakens the ancient villain in 1984, leading him to recruit mutants for his cause: the destruction and subsequent takeover of the planet.
What follows is the highly predictable good-versus-evil conflict seen all too many times. A team of heroes must defeat a malicious villain who, for obscure reasons, wants to destroy the world. If that sounds familiar, it’s because nearly every superhero film incorporates the same basic plot. However, films such as “Captain America: Civil War” and “Deadpool” go much further and establish a compelling storyline that is appreciated by fans and critics alike. Unfortunately, “X-Men: Apocalypse” doesn’t delve far beneath the surface. It focuses on too many characters at once, but only succeeds in making each one’s arc even more insignificant than it already is. The problem is not the acting — Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, Oscar Isaac and Sophie Turner are all critically acclaimed actors and actresses who perform excellently throughout the film. Rather, the weak writing and messy plot make it so that even the most potentially impactful scenes end up being altogether unmoving.
That’s not to say the film is completely useless — after all, it does explain the origins of several major characters. However, “X-Men: Apocalypse” lacks the qualities it needs to truly stand out. Instead of mirroring the success of other Marvel films released this year, it seems as if “Apocalypse” is doomed to be remembered as “just another X-Men movie.”