(out of 5)
After seeing their beginnings in training and their facing off with their future counterparts, the provocatively named X-Men are digging deep into their lore to investigate their very origins. In Ancient Egypt, the first mutant (Oscar Isaac) is buried during a body-transference ceremony and lies dormant for thousands of years until awakened by penitent worshipers who have come to call their god back to Earth. Magneto (Michael Fassbender) is living happily in a Polish village with his wife and daughter before his abilities are witnessed and alert the authorities, while Professor Xavier (James McAvoy) is getting his American psychic institute off the ground and Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) has just rescued two new mutants from show business slavery in Berlin. When the truly impressive archvillain begins to make the rounds, gathering various talents to do his bidding (and giving us a few more introductions to characters we already know and love), it poses the ultimate danger to the popularity of mutants, who had begun to successfully integrate into society before the disasters of the last film made the public fearful of these human anomalies. Considering that the bad guy literally wants to destroy the entire world so that it may begin anew, P.R. is hardly the biggest problem facing these guys, particularly when the appropriately named Apocalypse discovers Xavier’s ability to connect with all living minds and decides that his task has just gotten so much easier. These and many other strands of plot (Cyclops learns to hone his laser beam eyes, Jean Gray comes to accept her powers) are efficiently and intelligent woven together in a way that never feels scattered or difficult to follow, buoyed easily by the excellent performances, gorgeous visual design and terrific effects. It runs about twenty minutes longer than it needs to, carrying a heavy weight for something that is this much fun and steals too much from other films like The Mummy and Stargate, but there are enough moments of action and suspense between all the perpetual origin story generating to still make it as enjoyable as the previous two films and, as with those, still does a great job of not taking itself too seriously.
Directed by Bryan Singer
Cinematography by Newton Thomas Sigel
Music by John Ottman
Production Design by Grant Major
Costume Design by Louise Mingenbach
Film Editing by Michael Louis Hill, John Ottman