10 Things Parents Should Know About ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’

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(Note: There are no spoilers below.) Image: FOX

1. When does this movie take place?

The X-Men movies reset themselves several years ago and started following the adventures of the young X-Men. This movie is in that timeline, and quite specifically takes place in 1983. There is one Cold War plot device that makes that kind of relevant, but mostly it’s easy to forget the time period altogether, except when the occasional car is shown.

2. What’s it about?

The movie opens in 3600 BC in ancient Egypt, where it turns out the original mutant was ruling as a god. However, a rebel faction attacks a ceremony he’s in and buries him under a collapsed pyramid. Then, in 1983, he’s accidentally released again and decides to conquer the world. It’s up to the X-Men to try to save the day.

3. Will I like it?  

I’m not a comic book person; rather, I enjoy the movies, which is where superheroes live for me. Thus, I cannot address what fans of the comic book X-Men will think of where they take the characters in this movie.

From a cinematic perspective, I have to say that I don’t think this is a a very good movie. It’s needlessly long at just under 2½ hours. It spends a lot of that running time introducing characters that either don’t really matter too much or that we already know from previous films. It relies on a lot of rather convenient plot devices to move the story along. And worst of all, it’s a very poorly written. I can imagine there were plenty of times when the actors were looking at the script and thought, “Really? I have to shout that line?” In the end, the one word I’d use to sum up the movie: boring.

4. Will my kids like it?

Kids aren’t as likely to notice or care about the things that make it an underwhelming movie. When there is action, it’s fairly entertaining, but there are long sequences in between those action scenes that kids might have trouble sitting through. If the team behind the film had just shown a little more restraint and kept the film under 2 hours–which they could have easily done–then I’d probably recommend it to families with kids who love superheroes. But as long as it is? I’m less sure.

5. Is it worth paying to see in 3D?

I saw the movie in 2D, but the 3D sequences were very, very obvious. There are lots of places where objects get thrown at the screen. It’s the lazy producer’s approach to 3D: rather than try to subtly integrate it into the movie, they’re going to remind you as often as they can that you’re seeing a 3D movie. I certainly didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything by not paying the premium for the extra dimension.

6. What is it rated? Why?

The MPAA gave the movie a PG-13 rating for “sequences of violence, action and destruction, brief strong language and some suggestive images.” The violence is prevalent throughout the movie, and surprisingly brutal and bloody at points. This is, in fact, probably the bloodiest superhero movie I’ve seen. It’s also the first where they seem to go out of their way to try to be inventive in how they kill people. The action and destruction bit is because they destroy a few cities, but that’s standard superhero fare at this point.

There is one point where a character says “f***.” I don’t recall any other bad language, though.

And I honestly have no idea what the “suggestive images” is referring to. There are no sex scenes, and no nudity. It could perhaps be referring to a few of the costumes, but again I’d say they’re in line with what we’ve seen in superhero movies in the past.

7. When is a good time to go to the bathroom?

At 144 minutes, this is a long movie. Thankfully, there are plenty of scenes where you can sneak out and not miss much. Pretty much any time the characters are at the School for the Gifted, you can assume you have a few minutes of talking with no meaningful plot development.

8. How is Oscar Isaac? 

Oscar Isaac does a good job with the material he’s given, but this is certainly not going to be a role he’s remembered for when compared to Star Wars or Ex Machina.

9. Are there any other new big names?

In keeping with the recent tradition of X-Men/Game of Thrones cross-casting, this movie features Sophie Turner–Sansa Stark–as Jean Grey. We also get Olivia Munn as Psylocke, although it’s an extremely small part. In fact, I’m not even sure her character’s name is ever even said in the movie. Tye Sheridan comes on board as Cyclops. He’s not yet that well known, but in a year he will be, as he’s been cast to play Wade Watts in Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Ready Player One. Kodi Smit-McPhee from Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and The Road plays Nightcrawler.

10. Is there anything after the credits? 

Yes. At the very end, there’s a sequence that seems to set up the villain for the future movies. I’m sure fans of the comics will recognize the reference to the villain, but us movie fans will apparently have to wait to figure out who it is (or, of course, you can look it up online, which I did. I’m not going to say who it is, because I promised no spoilers, and I’d ask that readers do the same in the comments).

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