Blu-Ray Review: X-Men Apocalypse (M) (USA, 2016) drops a packed single disc release

X-Men: Apocalypse delivers the super fights, the superhero costumes, the supervillain and the super team. But was this latest X-Men film so special that, if it was a person, it would be enrolled at Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters? Yes and no.

Mild spoilers ahead.

Set in 1983, 10 years after the previous Days of Future Past, Charles Xavier/Professor X (James McAvoy) continues to run his school for mutants and reserves a special care for a young Jean Grey (Sophie Turner). Meanwhile Erik/Magneto (Michael Fassbender) lives in hiding and Raven/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) is on a mission to find and rescue lost and unfortunate mutants. Their lives change when an all-powerful mutant known as Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) rises from a long, deep sleep and decides to cleanse the world of humans. He recruits mutants including Magneto and a young Storm (Alexandra Shipp) to help him.

The film has a comic book feel but still manages to be realistic, even more so than the previous films. Of all the movies in the franchise, it feels closest to the vibe of the original X-Men .

Despite some praiseworthy scenes and the incredible acting and visual effects, the film is far from perfect. The pacing was mostly smooth but dropped off in the last third of the film. Part of the fault here lies with Apocalypse, who doesn’t come off as that great a threat. Sure, he radiates fear in the beginning but by the halfway. point it’s clear he’s just another powerful mutant who needs to be stopped.

With Professor X and Jean Grey being as powerful as they are too, the stakes didn’t feel as high as I expected they would be. In fact, Jean’s struggle to control her powers often leaves you more afraid of her than Apocalypse. The film’s manifestation of her alter ego “Phoenix” is a treat for fans disappointed by the character’s treatment in X-Men: The Last Stand.

Apocalypse also sees a much-wiser Professor X and a much-softer Magneto, who is given another chance at redemption. We see a more human side of him, which was a surprise. On the other side of things, Mystique was quite forgettable despite both her major role and being played by Jennifer Lawrence. Lawrence’s performance felt constantly overshadowed by the new characters Jean, Storm, Cyclops (Tye Sheridan), Psylocke (Olivia Munn) and Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) who all made a more memorable impact on the film.

However, the film did feel a little overcrowded. Most of the new characters were given too little background detail. Some were intriguing enough to catch your attention, but never enough to hold it. Let’s just say that if you thought Jubilee (Lana Candor)’s role would be equal on the same level as that of Jean and Cyclops, you’ll be a little disappointed.

Only a handful of the characters introduced are given the chance to become heroes while the others are left behind. If Apocalypse was as all-powerful and unstoppable as he seemed, wouldn’t you want more than seven people taking him on? Again, it undercut the stakes of the film and made the climax slightly anticlimatic. However, the post-credit scene does a good job of making you curious about what’s next for these characters.

In the meantime: X-Men: Apocalypse is good but not great as expected.


The single disc Blu-Ray edition of Apocalypse is out this week, and it’s jam packed with special features. It includes audio commentary from director Bryan Singer and writer Simon Kinberg, which provides some great insight into the decisions behind the direction of the film.

There’s half an hour of deleted and extended scenes with optional introductions from Singer – which includes a scene he said was the hardest he’s ever had to cut in a film, featuring a beautiful performance from Michael Fassbender. There’s quite a few other scenes which was surprising to have been cut – something which even Singer agrees, citing his regret on a few key moments.

There’s a gag reel just under 9 minutes which among other things shows us that Jennifer Lawrence was always looking forward to lunch. Clearly a woman after my own heart. The wrap party video shows some behind the scenes video in a 5 minute clip edited partially to “Time in a Bottle” by Jim Crowe and Julian Benasis’ “#Beastmode”. This was presumably shown at the wrap party, if the name of the video is to be believed. Also look out for a pair of image galleries and a series of trailers produced for the film. The back of the Blu-Ray also promised an Easter Egg, which I have yet to discover (or look very hard for).

The heart of the features, however, is a massive one hour documentary “Unearthed” that talks about setting the stage for the film, bringing in the new characters, the VFX and the concept of Apocalypse’s character. Director Bryan Singer and the creatives also talk about the “new timeline” they’re playing with, following the time travel element they explored in the epic Days of Future Past.

The end of the documentary is titled “What’s Next” and talks about what they’ve set the stage for in the future. On that, Singer says, “Ultimately this film is about the formation of the X-Men, and at the end of the film you get to see that in its glory, in the danger room, with their full costumes. Each with their own separate style, character, colour scheme and each exhibiting their own readiness to fight… What’s nice about altering the timeline (in Days of Future Past) is that we can go anywhere with these new X-Men characters.”

He also takes a moment to remind us that the remaining X-Men universe is every bit as large as the remaining Marvel Cinematic Universe. “You can go anywhere, you can expand into alien territory, there are other characters who travel through time… You can collide with Deadpool (again) if you want…” Singer concludes with calling the film “not the end of a trilogy, but the climax of six films, and also the birth of a new direction that the X-Men Universe can travel in”.

Though the cast are hopeful to get more of a chance to tell the X-Men story that fills the gap between this film and the McKellen / Stewart led cast (altered timeline or not), we know that Wolverine only has one film left and following the poor box office of this one, it’s hard to know when we’ll see them again. But for now we’ve got a fantastic Blu-Ray release to sink our teeth a into.

Special Features Score: FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

X-Men Apocalypse hits DVD, Blu-Ray (2D and 3D) and 4K Ultra HD on 28th September 2016.

Film Review by Natalia Wikana. Features Review by Larry Heath.


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Larry Heath

Founding Editor and Publisher of the AU review. Currently based in Toronto, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter @larry_heath or on Instagram @larryheath.