What is it about villains that make them want to wipe out the world and create a better one from whatever is left? If En Sabah Nur in X-Men: Apocalypse had watched Ultron's epic fail in Avengers: Age of Ultron, he'd know it doesn't really work.
X-Men: Apocalypse in a great follow up to X-Men: Days of Future Past as well as a decent stand-alone film. It has to be said, though, Days of Future Past is just a bit better.
In this instalment (the third prequel to the original series), we meet En Sabah Nur, a powerful mutant who is able to transfer his soul from body to body. He's therefore lived a long, long time, and fancies himself the true god of the world. But during one soul transfer in ancient Egypt, those who didn't believe him to be divine interfered with the transference process. Even though En Sabah Nur successfully made the switch, his new body was trapped beneath the rubble of a pyramid and put into a deep sleep.
We flash forward to the more recent past: it's 1983, 10 years after the events of Days of Future Past, and our principal mutants are scattered around the world and keeping more or less to themselves. Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) is running his Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters with the help of Hank/Beast (Nicholas Hoult); Raven/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) is abroad saving Kurt/Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) when we see her; and Eric/Magneto (Michael Fassbender) is living quietly as a regular human in Poland. Unfortunately, after his attempt to kill President Nixon in 1973, he's something of a wanted man and it's not long before his past, and powers, catch up to him and cause a tragic breakdown.
Meanwhile, Xavier's old flame from First Class, Moira Mactaggert (Rose Byrne), is poking around in Cairo and accidentally wakes up En Sabah Nur. Oops. En Sabah Nur, also known as Apocalypse, had always been accompanied by four allies who help and protect him. (Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, yes. How clever.) And in his emotionally vulnerable state, Magneto is pursuaded to join the malevolent quartet alongside Ororo/Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Angel (Ben Hardy), and Psylocke (Olivia Munn).
Naturally, Xavier and his crew must now destroy Apocalypse. So, for the umpteenth time in their friendship, Xavier and Magneto are pitted against each other.
The storytelling of Apocalypse is a little patchy, and the big battle scene at the end a little too fanciful - even for a Marvel sci-fi movie. But it's a fun and thrilling ride with plenty of "Oooooo! I love this character!" cameos, Nightcrawler and Peter/Quicksilver are delightful, and it's wonderful to see Sophie Turner stretch herself as an actress beyond Sansa Stark and fill the shoes of a young Jean Grey beautifully,
True, the flow could have been more seamless, particularly since Days of Future Past managed to jump between its past and present so flawlessly while still telling a convincing story. And Apocalypse really is a rather thin character and forgettable villain considering the magnificent baddies Marvel have produced in recent years. But Apocalypse is laugh-out-loud funny, enjoyable and mostly captivating, and definitely leaves viewers wanting more from the franchise.
Surely, director Bryan Singer and Marvel Studios won't leave fans hanging, and are still to produce one film that explains how the "young X-Men" evolve into the "old X-Men" we first saw in 2000's X-Men? Time will tell.
Contains occasional strong language