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X-Men: Apocalypse (3D)


Stars: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Oscar Isaac, Rose Byrne, Nicholas Hoult, Sophie Turner, Evan Peters, Tye Sheridan, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Ben Hardy, Alexandra Shipp, Olivia Munn, Hugh Jackman

Director: Bryan Singer

All (impressive) special effects and a few dull bits, this latest adventure of mutants with varying powers takes us back again to when Charles Xavier (McAvoy) was a young man, but begins some thousands of years earlier, as an all-powerful mutant Egyptian ruler, Apocalypse (an unrecognisable Isaac) prepares to renew his youth by assimilating all the bodily fluids of a young and healthy man.

Saboteurs, however, have other ideas, bringing the pyramid crashing down on the madman just at the completion of a transference scene that would have more than done Boris Karloff proud.

Natch, the batty pharaoh (you guessed it: he's the bad guy here) rises from the catafalque in the 1980s and, assembling a handful of mutant helpers including Magneto (Fassbender), determines to 'wipe clean this world. And we will lead those that survive into a better one.' This entails destroying all nuclear devices before razing earth's buildings to the ground, something for which Magneto's natural talents come in handy.

Meanwhile, back at X-Men HQ, Xavier welcomes the return of Raven/Mystique. 'I never thought I'd see you here again,' he exclaims. 'Me neither,' responds Lawrence, reflecting perhaps that her agent should have got her out of this series by now.

Eventually, Xavier gets kidnapped by the bad guy and whisked off to Egypt (anything's possible in an X-Men movie), where the dastardly Apocalypse plans to take over the professor's mind to see where everyone on earth is (not that there'll be much of it left).

A group of remaining mutants, briefly including Wolverine (Jackman), who disappears from the plot as swiftly (and violently) as he enters it, hurtle to the rescue, but the almighty Egyptian seems indestructible...

Although the effects here are awesome, especially in 3D, a lot of the plotting seems old-hat, with familiar elements of the franchise rehashed to shine like new. And Singer's habit of breaking up the action into little pieces does sometimes put a knife into what should be mounting tension.

Still, aficionados hungry for more of the same old mutant thrills will be more than satisfied just to see their heroes in action again - and at least this time we do get to find out how Xavier went bald.

David Quinlan

USA 2016. UK Distributor: 20th Century Fox (Marvel Films). Colour by FotoKem.
144 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 17 May 2016