The X-Men franchise has been around for 16 years and remains Hollywood’s oldest living superhero franchise. With their show stopping debut in 2000, the X-Men followed up their surprise success with X2 in 2003, another massive hit, both directed by franchise-pioneer Bryan Singer. However, the franchise took a turn in 2006 with a disappointing sequel in the form of Brett Ratner’s X-Men: The Last Stand. Franchise breakout Hugh Jackman soon became a leading man in 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which was received very poorly. With two contingious failures, the franchise decided to go back in time to the 1960’s to tell the story of the birth of the hero team in the Matthew Vaughn’s 2011 prequel, X-Men: First Class. Followed by 2013’s The Wolverine and the massive return of director Bryan Singer with the mega success that is 2014’s X-Men: Days of Future Past. Now, Bryan Singer returns to the helm of the ship he started with the newest installment of the X-Men franchise, X-Men: Apocalypse.

This film is a popcorn action flick if ever I’ve seen one. With great performances from returning veterans James McAvoy (Charles Xavier) & Michael Fassbender (Magneto) and excellent debuts of new cast members Tye Sheriden (Cyclops), Sophie Turner (Jean Grey), & Kodie Smith-McPhee (Nightcrawler), X-Men: Apocalypse surprised me. While the writing (by Simon Kinberg) was a little wonky in places, director Bryan Singer made up for it with big action set pieces and magnificent handling of characters. The film features brilliant cameos by Jubilee, Stan Lee, William Stryker, & even an extended cameo from Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) himself. I must also mention the brilliant return performance of Evan Peter’s Quicksilver, who once again steals the show.

Now for the negatives. Jennifer Lawrence sleepwalks through an obviously bored performance as Mystique and the secondary characters of Angel (Ben Hardy), Storm (Alexandria Shipp), & Psylocke (Olivia Munn) are very lackluster and feel more like extended cameos than secondary roles. The return of Moira Mactaggert (Rose Byrne) feels forced and unnecessary. Oscar Issacs performance as the titular villain feels bloated and unmenacing, recycling plot points and villain tropes from the titular character in Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Overall, there are ultimately more positives than negatives to me, therefore Apocalypse passes with 7/10 stars. The film gives me much hope for the future of the franchise and the returning hands of Bryan Singer.

Grade: B+

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