“X-Men: Apocalypse” is named for its villain, an ancient fuddy duddy who dreams of (what else?) world domination, but it could be a commentary on today’s superhero film economy.
Bryan Singer’s film, the eighth chapter in the “X-Men” saga (ninth if you count “Deadpool”), does feel like an apocalypse of sorts, or at least the end of the road. How many more times can you watch a bunch of too-good-for-this actors suit up to save the world?
“X-Men: Apocalypse” is particularly egregious in this category, casting Jennifer Lawrence, Oscar Isaac and Michael Fassbender in the latest entry in this time-bending series that is in the slow process of rebooting itself (and making up its own rules regarding continuity as it goes). A cast with that level of talent — Rose Byrne and James McAvoy, too! — belongs in a prestige fall drama, not in some second-rate superhero claptrap.
But here they are, in various levels of engagement (Lawrence, who has hinted this may be her final “X-Men” movie, already seems checked out), ushering the “X-Men” story through the ’80s. Isaac, unrecognizable underneath several layers of makeup, is Apocalypse, the world’s first mutant, whose reign of terror dates back to 3600 B.C. and who wakes up from a long nap ready to destroy the universe.
The X-Men assemble, though it takes some time to get them all on the same page, and Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) shows up for about 45 seconds to fulfill his contractual obligations. That’s what “X-Men: Apocalypse” is: a contract fulfillment. There’s no spark, and everyone lumbers through the motions. The apocalypse, it turns out, is deadly dull.