Sunday, June 5, 2016

It Came From The Cineplex: X-Men: Apocalypse

X-Men: Apocalypse was written by Simon Kinberg (with "story by" credit from Bryan Singer, Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris) and directed by Bryan Singer.

Kinberg is a prolific and uneven writer and producer, who previously wrote xXx: State Of The Union, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, X:Men: The Last Stand, Jumper (oy), Sherlock Holmes, X-Men: Days Of Future Past and Fant4Stic (double oy).

Singer directed The Usual Suspects, Apt Pupil, X-Men, X-Men 2, Superman Returns, Valkyrie, Jack The Giant Slayer and X-Men: Days Of Future Past.

This is the sixth X-Men film in the series, and the fourth directed by Singer. X-Men Origins: WolverineThe Wolverine and Deadpool take place in the same cinematic world as well.

X-Men: Apocalypse is an epic and ambitious film that's packed full of characters, but doesn't quite have the depth or soul of the previous two entries.

As has become the norm for the X-Men series, this film contradicts or outright ignores much of what came before. Take Nightcrawler, for example. He's introduced and joins the team in X-Men: Apocalypse, even though he already did the exact same thing in X-Men 2, which chronologically takes place after this film. Confused yet? The film's full of such incongruities.

At this point I doubt even the most rabid fan could untangle the Gordian Knot of X-Men movie continuity. I know I stopped trying a long time ago. In my mind each entry is a standalone film that just happens to use the same characters, and I don't worry about how it matches up to the previous ones.

Of course now the creators have an excuse for all these continuity glitches. In X-Men: Days Of Future Past, Wolverine went back to the past and meddled with the time stream, which no doubt caused significant changes in the present. Convenient!

Some fans insist that this prequel trilogy is separate from the original films. That may have been the plan at first, but not anymore. At the end of X-Men: Days Of Future Past, Wolverine woke up in an altered timeline at some point after X-Men 3: The Last Stand. That pretty much cements the idea that the two trilogies are linked.

X-Men: Apocalypse feels a LOT like a live action version of the X-Men: The Animated Series that ran on the Fox Network from 1992 to 1997. I'm sure the fact that the Apocalypse character popped up several times in the series (as well as Jubilee) has something to do with that.

The first two films in this trilogy wove actual real world events and leaders into their plots. For example, X-Men: First Class had the mutants participate in the Cuban Missile Crisis, while President Nixon was a character in X-Men: Days Of Future Past.

Unfortunately, X-Men: Apocalypse does none of this, and its 1980s setting is mere window dressing.

So what's up with Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique in this film? She appeared in her typical nude blue-skinned form for most of the previous two movies. Suddenly in X-Men:Apocalypse she spends at least ninety five percent of the runtime in human form, complete with blonde hair and blue eyes. What gives?

If I had to guess, I'd say it's due to the fact that Jennifer Lawrence is a much bigger star now than she was when she made the first film, and she decided she'd had enough of being painted blue and having to trot around virtually naked.

This is the final film in her contract, and all through the movie she seems like she wants to hurry up and get it over with. At this point the X-Men films need Jennifer Lawrence much more than she needs them.

Oscar Isaac also stars in the film as the evil Apocalypse. Unfortunately none of the cocky charm and charisma he demonstrated in Star Wars: The Force Awakens is on display here. Isaac is completely wasted under pounds of blue makeup (what's with all the blue people in this films?) and vocal distortion. They could have used virtually anyone and gotten the same result.

Apparently this billboard for the film is causing quite a bit of controversy here in the Offended States Of America. Actress Rose McGowan, who's not even in the fekakte movie for Christ's sake, is particularly upset by the image of the villain Apocalypse choking the anti-hero Mystique. A scene that, I should point out, takes place in the actual film. Said McGowan:
"There is a major problem when the men and women at 20th Century Fox think casual violence against women is the way to market a film. There is no context in the ad, just a woman getting strangled. The fact that no one flagged this is offensive and frankly, stupid. The geniuses behind this, and I use that term lightly, need to take a long hard look at the mirror and see how they are contributing to society. Imagine if it were a black man being strangled by a white man, or a gay male being strangled by a hetero? The outcry would be enormous. So let’s right this wrong. 20th Century Fox, since you can’t manage to put any women directors on your slate for the next two years, how about you at least replace your ad?"
Jesus wept. I'm thankful all our country's problems have been solved so we can now concentrate on things that really matter, like a goddamned billboard. Perhaps Ms. McGowan would be happy if the billboard showed Apocalypse patting Mystique on the head instead? Or gently caressing her cheek? Offering her a bouquet of flowers?

I shouldn't kid, as Rose McGowan is most definitely an expert on this topic. In fact she hates violence against women in film so much that she starred in 2007's Planet Terror, in which she played an exotic dancer whose leg is torn off by bloodthirsty zombies, and replaced with a machine gun. Preach it, girl!

Amazingly Fox has apologized by the ad, saying, "Once we realized how insensitive it was, we quickly took steps to remove those materials. We apologize for our actions and would never condone violence against women."

And the Pussification of America continues unabated...

Audiences ought to know this by now, but it probably bears repeating this is not a Marvel Studios film. Yes, it features Marvel characters, but the studio that brought you Ant-Man, Guardians Of The Galaxy and Captain America: Civil War had absolutely nothing to do with this movie.

X-Men: Apocalypse was made by 20th Century Fox, the studio that really needs to think about updating their name. Fox owns the movie rights to the X-Men and all their ancillary characters such as Deadpool. They also own the rights to the Fantastic 4, but the less said about that, the better.

There's a simple way to tell who made what movie. Watch the logo at the beginning of the 
film. Genuine Marvel Studios films are labeled as such.

If Fox or Sony made it, then it'll simply say Marvel at the beginning. I still think Fox and other studios should have to use a more radically different logo on their films, to avoid audience confusion.

Watch for the "X" Easter Egg at the beginning of the film! Like every movie in the series, the "X" in the Fox logo stays lit for a few frames after the rest of the letters fade to black.

Something odd happened during my showing of the film. After the trailers and commercials were over, there was a PSA featuring Alexandra Shipp (who plays Storm in the film), thanking the audience for coming out to the theater (?). I don't know if this played in every theater or just mine, but it was downright weird. 

It business so bad that actors are now thanking us for going to the movies? Considering that last year the top twenty films grossed over FIVE BILLION dollars in the US alone, I'm going to say no.


The Plot:
In 3600 BCE, a world's first mutant, En Sabah Nur (played by Oscar Isaac) rules Egypt (I guess I dozed off the day we covered that in history class). We see En Sabah Nur deep inside his pyramid, surrounded by his superpowered "Four Horsemen" (Get it? Four Horsemen? Apocalypse? Eh? EH?), as he prepares to transfer his mind from his aged body into a healthy new one. Two of Nur's slaves, who view him as a false god, betray him by collapsing the pyramid on top of him, burying him deep underground.

In 1983, a group of worshipers still faithful to En Sabah Nur discover his tomb under the rubble of the pyramid. They're observed by CIA agent Moira Mactaggert, who's in Egypt spying on them for reasons. As the worshippers open the tomb, light pours in, bringing Nur back to life. I guess he must be solar powered? The chamber begins shaking and MacTaggert barely escapes with her life.

En Sabah Nur, aka Apocalypse (even though no one actually calls him that in the movie), escapes the tomb and begins exploring modern (well, 1983) Cairo. He claims the world has lost its way, and decides to destroy it and remake it. He meets Ororo Munroe, aka Storm, a young street thief and mutant who can control the weather. Apocalypse "upgrades" her powers, and she begins following him.

In East Berlin, the shape-shifting mutant Mystique infiltrates a mutant fight club (which were all the rage in the 1980s). She sees Nightcrawler, a teleporting mutant, forced to fight the reigning champion, the be-winged Angel. She rescues Nightcrawler, who teleports the two out of the club. So why didn't she rescue Angel while she was at it? Because it's in the script, that's why. Mystique takes Nightcrawler to Caliban (a mutant trafficker) to get him out of Germany and into the U.S.

In Poland, we see Magneto (played by Michael Fassbender) is now incognito, working in a local foundry. He's acquired a wife and child since we last saw him in 1973, and seems perfectly happy. Uh-oh! Watch out, Magneto! You're tempting the screenwriting gods!

Sure enough, Magneto's in the foundry when a large metal bucket breaks loose and falls toward an unsuspecting worker below. Magneto instinctively uses his power to toss the bucket aside, saving the man's life. His coworkers stare nervously at him. That night, Magneto goes home and tells his wife his cover's blown and they need to leave now. As they look for their daughter, they discover she's being held by the local police. Magneto offers himself in exchange for his daughter. As they're making the exchange, one of the policemen accidentally kills both Magneto's wife and daughter (with what looks like a tiny arrow from a child's wobbly archery set). Seething with rage, Magneto kills the entire police force with nothing but a metal locket.

In the U.S., young Scott Summers, aka Cyclops, manifests his mutant ability at school, as he destroys the men's room with powerful blasts that emanate from his eyes. His brother Alex, aka Havok, takes him to Professor Charles Xavier's School For Gifted Youngsters. Xavier (played by James MacAvoy) is impressed with Scott and immediately enrolls him. Scott "meets cute" Jean Grey (played by Sophie Turner, of Game Of Thrones fame), a female student whose powerful telepathy and telekinesis terrifies the other students. Mystique brings Nightcrawler to the mansion, and tells Xavier that Magneto's surfaced and is on the run again.

Apocalypse continues to recruit his new Four Horsemen. He visits Caliban, and recruits his enforcer Psylocke, who's some sort of scantily-clad ninja woman who can project an energy blade from her fist. She leads the group to Angel, who's nursing his wings after they were scorched at the fight club. Apocalypse transforms Angel's wings into deadly metal ones, and he instantly becomes a follower. 

Apocalypse tracks down Magneto and takes him to Auschwitz, where his power first manifested in WWII. That would make Magneto around fifty five years old in 1983, but for some reason he doesn't look a day over forty. Anyway, Apocalypse unlocks Magneto's full potential, and he completely destroys the work camp. Magneto then joins Apocalypse's cause, becoming his fourth Horseman.

Xavier and Havoc meet with MacTaggert, who's been researching Apocalypse, and has somehow found out he's the world's 
first mutant. The meeting is awkward, as Xavier erased MacTaggert's memory of him back in X-Men: First Class (Well, sort of. More on that later)

Just then Apocalypse uses his vast powers to completely destroy Cairo, constructing a gargantuan pyramid from the rubble. Xavier uses Cerebro— his sensing device that can locate everyone mutant on Earth— to track him down. Apocalypse senses Xavier's mind, and tunes into his mental frequency. Through Cerebro, he launches all of Earth's nukes into space, to prevent humanity from attacking him. Apocalypse's Horsemen then arrive and kidnap Xavier.

Beast tries to shut down Cerebro, but Apocalypse is too powerful and prevents it. Havok uses his powers to blast the console, which causes a massive explosion, destroying the entire Mansion. Fortunately Quicksilver, who's secretly Magneto's son, was in the neighborhood. He uses his superspeed to save everyone from the blast, in the film's best sequence. Unfortunately Havok doesn't survive.

Colonel William Stryker and his armed forces appear literally ten seconds after the blast, and arrest Beast, Mystique, Quicksilver and MacTaggert. He takes them to his secret base at Alkali Lake, wherever that is, to interrogate them. Unknown to him, Cyclops, Jean Grey and Nightcrawler teleported aboard one of Stryker's choppers and followed him.

At the base, the three stowaways search for their captive teammates. They find a cage housing a dangerous mutant known as Weapon X (aka Wolverine). They free him, and he kills virtually all the soldiers in a savage, berserker rage. Stryker wets himself and flees before his test subject finds him and has his revenge. Weapon X confronts Jean, who uses her telepathy to calm him, and partially restore his memory. He then runs out the door and exits the film, having fulfilled his obligation to appear in every movie in the X-Men series.

The kids find Beast, Mystique, Quicksilver and MacTaggert and free them. Meanwhile, Apocalypse urges Magneto to tap into the Earth's magnetic poles, which causes massive worldwide destruction as thousands of buildings and famous landmarks are twisted into floating rubble. Apocalypse hijacks Xavier's telepathic mind to send out a message to the entire world: "Everything they built will fall! And from the ashes of their world, we'll build a better one!" During Apocalypse's telepathic broadcast, Xavier manages to send out a secret mental message to Jean Grey, and the X-Men head for Cairo.

Apocalypse takes Xavier into his pyramid, where he plans to transfer his mind into the powerful telepath's body. The X-Men arrive and battle the Four Horsemen. Nightcrawler defeats Angel by teleporting him into a makeshift cage. Magneto and Storm snap out of it, and turn on Apocalypse. Psylocke quietly sneaks away until the next film.

Inside the pyramid, Xavier fights to keep Apocalypse out of his head, as the two mutants battle one another in the astral plane. In the real world, Xavier's hair is burned away as he struggles against the powerful mutant. With his last ounce of strength, Xavier pleads with Jean to unleash the full extent of her powers. She does so, going full Phoenix Force on Apocalypse's ass, disintegrating him.

Later Xavier tells MacTaggert he was wrong to rob her of her memories, and restores her mind. Oddly enough, instead of shooting him point blank in the head for violating her mind like he did, she seems OK with it. Magneto and Jean Grey use their powers to completely rebuild the X-Mansion, which seems like a stretch even for a comic book movie. Magneto turns down Xavier's offer to stay and teach, and leaves, getting off scot-free after pretty much destroying the entire world.

Mystique then begins teaching the X-Men— Cyclops, Jean Grey, Beast, Storm, Nightcrawler and Quicksilver.

In the post credits scene, a man in a black suit retrieves a vial of Weapon X's blood from Alkali Lake. He puts the vial in a briefcase labeled "Essex Corporation," which no doubt sent comic fans into convulsions, but confused the hell out of the general public.


• Apparently one can completely destroy a massive, fifty story pyramid by simply knocking out two six foot stone supports. Got it.

I wish I was kidding here. At the beginning of the film, Apocalypse is stretched out on a slab inside a massive pyramid that's at least five hundred feet tall. Seriously, it would be an impressive feat to build something like that today, much less five thousand years ago.

As Apocalypse prepares to transfer his mind into a new body, two of his enemies (who apparently have the precision of diamond cutters) knock out a couple of small support posts that are holding up a large stone slab. The slab then slides down a corridor, knocking out numerous load-bearing columns as it picks up speed. By the time it crashes into the center chamber of the pyramid, it's going at least a hundred hundred miles an hour, and causes the entire structure to collapse in a heap of rubble. 

• When I first saw that Apocalypse would be the big bad in this movie, it occurred to me that I had no idea what his powers are (even though I used to read the X-Men comics). I looked him up, and in the comics he has the power to do pretty much anything.

He has total control over all the molecules in his body, allowing him to stretch or change his size. He can transform his limbs into weapons, wings or even rockets. He can regenerate damaged tissue and is immune to all diseases. He can project and absorb energy and is both telepathic and telekinetic. He can even interface with technology. Oh, and he's immortal. 

Like I said, pretty much all the powers. The movie version looks to be identical. It's implied in the film that he gains new powers by transferring his mind into various mutant bodies.

• At the beginning of the film, Magneto has a new life for himself in Poland, complete with a wife and child. Funny how none of his foundry coworkers ever recognized him. He doesn't even bother wearing a pair of Clark Kent glasses to hide his identity. His face was all over the news back in the 70s, so you'd think at least one person in town would realize he's the world's most dangerous mutant.

• Mystique rescues Nightcrawler from a mutant "Fight Club" in Germany. I've heard some viewers wonder why he didn't just teleport out of the metal cage he was in. I thought it was pretty obvious that he couldn't, due to it being electrically charged, which somehow messed with his powers. 

A similar thing happens later in the movie when he can't teleport into a helicopter cockpit because it's surrounded by some sort of electronic field.

• When we first see the mutant Fight Club, a large, grotesque mutant is defeated, flops to the floor and is dragged away. That was Blob, a character from the comics and the animated series. He has the power of Type 2 diabetes, and is impossible to move (!). Yep, believe it or not, his main power is immobility.

I was impressed that he's dressed exactly like the comic version! Well done!

• Cyclops has an interesting power. Whenever he opens his eyes, destructive laser-like beams blast out of them. The only way to cut off the beams is for him to tightly close his eyes.

So how can he possibly see while all that's going on? Wouldn't it be like trying to see while a powerful flashlight's shining in his eyes (or I guess in this case, out of them)? And how the hell could his thin, floppy little eyelids hold back such powerful blasts? What are they made out of, steel?

• Moira MacTaggert briefs Professor X and Havok on Apocalypse, saying he was the world's first and most ancient mutant, appearing some five thousand years ago. A stunned Havok says, "I thought mutants didn't appear until the 20th Century?"

Um… when was that ever established in any of the films? In X-Men: First Class Professor Xavier does say, "The advent of the nuclear age may have accelerated the mutation process. Individuals with extraordinary abilities may already be among us." But note he says accelerated, not generated. Nowhere does he indicate there were never mutants before the 1950s.

They can't blame Wolverine for this change, because he only went back in time to 1973, not five thousand years ago.

• Speaking of time, the characters in this new X-Trilogy are all incredibly well preserved. Twenty years have passed since we first saw them in X-Men: First Class, which was set in 1963. Yet in all that time the various mutants have barely aged at all. Hank McCoy was probably in his early twenties in the first film, which would make him in his forties in this one. Yet he looks like he's twenty five, thirty at the most.

That's nothing compared to Professor X and Magneto, neither of which has aged a single day since the 60s. I guess mutants must not show their age.

Characters never age in comic books, so I suppose there's a precedent for this.

Whatever's keeping them young, it's apparently about to wear off. According to the interwebs, the original X-Men movie took place sometime around 2003, so in just twenty short years, Professor X and Magneto are going to rapidly age into Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen! Maybe they both take up smoking.

• One last thing about the lack of aging. Havok was around eighteen in X-Men: First Class, so he should be pushing forty by 1983. Of course he looks twenty five at the most.Yet somehow his younger brother Scott Summers, aka Cyclops, is in high school. 

It's possible of course, but it just seems really odd that a family would have two kids spaced twenty years apart.

By the way, in the comics Cyclops is the elder brother. I have no idea why the movies flipped their birth order.

• I was very impressed with the look of Psylocke in the film, as she's virtually identical to the comic version. Unfortunately she turned out to be a huge disappointment, as she had very limited screentime, few lines and little or no character development. Virtually every one of her scenes are in the trailerWhy bother to include her if you're not going to use her?

Psylocke has an extremely convoluted origin story in the comics. She was the twin sister of Brian Braddock, aka Captain Britain, and was a powerful telepath. Eventually she had her mind placed in the body of an Asian ninja named Kwannon, who can manifest a sword made of psychic energy. That's just the tip of her origin iceberg too I skipped over a good fifty thousand more words. I can see why they didn't attempt to explain her origin in the movie.

• Cyclops, Jean Grey, Jubilee and Nightcrawler all decide to sneak out of the X-Mansion and visit the local mall.

So how did Nightcrawler manage to hang out in public without his unusual appearance causing a stir? Did Jean use her mental powers to make the other mallrats see him as normal?

Yes, I'm aware they shot a mall scene that probably explains this, but as it was cut for time it doesn't count.

• At the mall, the four young mutants leave a theater showing The Return Of The Jedi. Cyclops and Jubilee argue over whether it's better or worse than The Empire Strikes Back. Jean Grey quips, "Everyone know the third movie's always the worst!" Wakka wakka!

I'm pretty sure this was a dig at X-Men: The Last Stand, the almost universally reviled third film in the original trilogy (a movie that I thought was OK, by the way). It's also a risky comment, as it could very easily be applied to this film as well.

By the way, once they come back from the mall, this new emo Nightcrawler's sporting a stylish red leather jacket. Was that a nod to Michael Jackson, who wore a similar one in the early 80s?

• Apocalypse takes Magneto to the now deserted Auschwitz Concentration Camp, in an effort to unlock his full potential or something. Or maybe he just likes torturing the guy, who knows? Magneto remembers the time he spent there as a child, including the death of his beloved mother. He uses his powers to reduce the every building in the camp to rubble.

Apparently sometime after this happened, someone went in and completely rebuilt the camp exactly as it was. Auschwitz is still standing today, and is a popular (if solemn) tourist attraction.

• When Apocalypse takes control of Cerebro, Havok blasts the console, which causes a huge explosion that completely destroys the X-Mansion. Fortunately Quicksilver just happens to show up and uses his superspeed to evacuate everyone in the nick of time.

Once again, Quicksilver completely steals the show with this high speed rescue. That said, it's virtually a carbon copy of the Pentagon scene from Days Of Future Past, which drags it down somewhat and makes it less special.

• Literally thirty seconds after the mansion explodes, several copters land on the grounds, and a squadron of soldiers, led by Colonel Stryker, whisk away a group of mutants.

Where the hell did they come from? Stryker's base is in the Canadian Rockies, which are over two thousand miles from New York state. So it's not like Stryker heard the explosion and came a runnin.' He and his copters had to be hovering just outside the mansion's property line, just waiting for the day when it would explode.  

• Cyclops, Jean Grey and Nightcrawler infiltrate Stryker's base to rescue the older mutants. They end up encountering Wolverine, who's been tortured, mutilated and modified into Weapon X, the perfect killing machine.

That's odd. At the end of Days Of Future Past, Colonel Stryker fished an unconscious Wolverine out of the river, intending to take him to his base and begin the Weapon X project. However, a closeup of Stryker revealed a flash of yellow in his eyes, indicating he was really Mystique in disguise, and she was going to save him from Stryker.

Obviously that didn't happen. In this film it appears that the real Stryker captured Wolverine and he spent the past ten years turning him into Weapon X.

So... did the writers forget about the little Mystique scene in the previous film? Or did they remember it, but just choose to ignore it for plot reasons? 

• Was Apocalypse mind controlling his Four Horsemen? It's never quite clear if he is or not. He definitely boosts their powers and "unlocks their potentials," but I'm not sure if that's the same as mind control. I hope he's influencing them somehow, since they do some pretty nasty things in his name. If he's not clouding their minds, then Storm and Psylocke do their best to kill their fellow mutants of their own volition. 

Apocalypse was definitely controlling the minds of the humans in charge of launching the world's various nukes, so I'm going to assume he was doing the same to his mutant army as well.

• Stan Lee makes his usual cameo appearance, but this time he's joined by his real life wife Joanie.

• These days it's all the rage to point out the collateral damage that superheroes cause in their films. Critics (including myself!) ravaged Man Of Steel, which featured a battle between Superman and Zod that completely leveled the entire city of Metropolis, an act which surely killed hundreds of thousands of innocents.

That was child's play compared to what Magneto does in this film. With Apocalypse's encouragement, Magneto reaches deep into the the Earth, taking control of the planet's vast magnetic field. He uses it to levitate entire city blocks, completely destroying hundreds of major cities worldwide. Magneto's brand of "urban renewal" must have killed millions of people.

Oddly enough we never see a single one of these unfortunate victims. It's as if every city on Earth was completely evacuated (to where?) before Magneto stuck. I'm wondering if Bryan Singer read all the blistering criticism against superhero body counts, and chose to film a clean, antiseptic, casualty-free end of the world?

Apparently it worked! I've not heard a single complaint or comment about Magneto being a mass murderer.

• In the first two films, mutants are feared and mistrusted by the general public. After Magneto's little world-destroying stunt, you'd think humanity would hate mutants even more, but the movie completely skips over the topic.

• I was disappointed when Apocalypse didn't actually grow to enormous size as shown in the trailer. Technically he did grow, but only in the mental realm of Charles Xavier's mind.

• Professor X tells Moira MacTaggert he regrets erasing her mind on the beach, and restores her memories.

Um... that's not what happened back in X-Men: First Class. He didn't erase her memories on the beach, he did it a month or so after that event, in front of the X-Mansion.

Additionally, in this film MacTaggert doesn't remember knowing Professor X at all, but 
in First Class it's implied he only erased her memories of everything that happened after the attack on the Division X headquarters. She should remember the Professor, but not her first adventure with him.

They can't blame Wolverine for this discrepancy, because once again he never time traveled back to the 1960s.

• At the end of the film, Mystique has apparently become the drill sargent of the X-Men, as she barks orders to the newly organized team. This is interesting, as Mystique has always been a villain in the comics, and was even one of Magneto's evil henchmen in the first X-Men film (which chronologically takes place after this one). 

Is something going to happen to make Mystique go bad between now and whenever the first film is supposed to take place? Or did Wolverine's time-tampering change her into a good guy?

I've never quite understood this film series' obsession with Mystique in the first place. She's had a prominent role in all six X-movies, despite the fact that she was a relatively minor character in the comics. 

I'm assuming her continued presence has something to do with the fact that her appearance allows the filmmakers to include a naked woman in a PG movie.

• In the final shot, we see the new X-Men team assembled. Amazingly, they're all wearing costumes very similar to the ones they wore in the comics! Mystique's wearing a suit with a wide white stripe down the center, Nightcrawler's costume has red & white accents, and Cyclops' outfit features gold straps across his chest.

They're not exact of course, but they're pretty darned close. Just think, it only took SIXTEEN freakin' years to put 'em in the proper costumes!

• So what was up with that after credits scene? To recap, at Alkali Lake, a crew comes in to clean up after Wolverine's rampage. A man in a black suit retrieves a vial of Weapon X's blood and puts in a briefcase labeled "Essex Corporation."

That would be Nathaniel Essex, aka Mr. Sinister. In the comics he was a scientist obsessed with evolution and mutation. He encountered Apocalypse, who turned him into a telepathic mutant. Sinister is quite the flashy dresser, prone to wearing hip boots and shoes at the same time.

Essex renamed himself Mr. Sinister and experimented in cloning, creating duplicates of various superheroes over the years. He even altered his own body, giving himself new powers, including shapeshifting, accelerated healing and immortality.

I'm assuming Sinister's appearance here means he'll be the big bad in the third Wolverine movie. He may also signal the appearance of X-23, a character from the comics who's a female clone of Wolverine. 

• Various Easter Eggs I Noticed:

Apocalypse says, "Everything they built will fall! And from the ashes of their world, we'll build a better one!" He says almost the exact same line in the animated series: "From the ashes of this world, I will build a better one!"

Storm sports a Mohawk hairdo, much like the one she had in the comics in the 80s. Cool!

When Apocalypse enters Storm's house in Cairo, her TV is playing the Who Mourns For Adonais episode of Star Trek. That episode's about a superpowered being who thinks he's a god and demands to be worshipped, much like Apocalypse does in the film.

Apocalypse calls Storm a "goddess." When she first appeared in the comics, she lived in the plains of Africa, where she was worshiped as a god by the local natives until she was found and recruited by Professor X.

In the movie, Caliban is a mutant who works as a black marketeer in Eastern Europe. In the comics, Caliban was a mutant whose power was to sense and locate others of his kind. Apocalypse made him one of his Four Horsemen.

When Apocalypse recruits Angel, the winged mutant is listening to Metallica's Four Horsemen single from their album Kill 'Em All. Apocalypse also transforms Angel's damaged, feathered wings into metal ones, something he did in the comics as well.

X-Men: Apocalypse is the "final" film in the franchise, until the next one. It's not quite as good as either of the previous films, as it features a muddled story that tries to service way too many characters. That said, tt's still worth a look though, mainly due to the interactions between Cyclops, Jean Grey and Nightcrawler. I give it a B.

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