X-Men: Apocalypse 1.0 stars

X-Men: Apocalypse movie poster

In a bit of pre-emptive metacriticism, this third entry in the “early X-Men” series that began with First Class and hit its stride with Days of Future Past sends its young, ‘80s-era mutants to the mall to see Return of the Jedi, whereupon one of them declares that third entries in film trilogies always suck. Instead of Ewoks, this movie has Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac, sadly buried under makeup, costuming, and voice effects), the first mutant, roused from a lengthy nap beneath the pyramids and eager to make up for lost time. He wants to destroy weak humanity and everything it has made, and he wants his fellow mutants to help out. That much is clear. What’s much less clear is why a humanity-free world would be any better, or even desirable — you gotta rule somebody, no? Or why he can turn most people into dust with but a thought, but can’t seem to do it to his adversaries. Etc. It’s a shame: this installment brings in some interesting new blood with teleporting blue devil Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) and troubled telepath Jean Grey (Sophie Turner). (For once, the baddies, including weather-witch Storm (Alexandra Shipp) and psychic-swordster Psyclocke (Olivia Munn), are the more boring bunch.) Then it turns them into gears in the Big Final Fight Machine. Familial drama and big special effects come via fast-guy Quicksilver (Evan Peters) and metal-mover Magneto (Michael Fassbender). But without a compelling villain, it’s hard to resist feeling like it’s just more of the (mutated) same. 2016.

Matthew Lickona

This movie is not currently in theaters.

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