"Welcome to the school for the gifted," says Professor Charles Xavier in a scene.
"Yeah, well it doesn't exactly feel like a gift," says Scott Summers skeptically.
"It never does at first," Xavier reassures while smiling.
A network TV show may have proud parents showcase their child prodigy to the world. A kid who plays Bartok piano concerto 2 at five, or another who's a Mensa member at six. Later, the cutesiness and novelty wears off. And unless they're later awarded a knighthood at 26 for curing global warming in the year 2016, and in 2017 a Nobel Prize in science, both achieved by the fictitious character Sir Peter Weyland (1990-2093), multibillionaire CEO of Weyland Industries from the sci-fi Alien film Prometheus, child prodigies may be forgotten.
The appeal of the X-Men is that at Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters, located at a sprawling beautiful countryside estate in Westchester County, New York, there are unique gifts so exceptionally fascinating, that left unchecked can be terrifying. Like Scott Summers' unique gift, whose eyes emit a powerful optic blast that can level a whole city block. Such gifts aren't meant to be showcased to the world, only when absolutely necessary in saving the world. That's why X-Men: Apocalypse is well worth the watch. With that, some spoilers are ahead.
The film begins with a scene of Ancient Egypt with the location at the Nile Valley 3600 BCE. The world's first mutant and ruler of Egypt, En Sabah Nur/Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) undergoes a ceremonial transference within a pyramid. Also a false god, who absorbs the powers of other mutants to become all powerful and immortal. Yet, he's betrayed by some as a fight interrupts the transference, causing the pyramid to collapse, and entombing him for over a millennium.
Followed by in the year 1983, again at the location in Egypt, Moira MacTaggert, a scientist who is an authority in genetic mutation in the CIA, secretly observes a cult gathering of En Sabah Nur followers at the ruins, who awaken him. Other locations quickly follow as modern day mutants (homo superior) are revealed. At an underground fight club in East Berlin, Raven Darkholme/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), a shapeshifter with also superhuman agility, frees captive mutant Kurt Wagner/Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee), who can teleport, from fighting Angel (Ben Hardy), a mutant with large bird-like feathers and the fight club's current champion. While busy freeing oppressed mutants, Mystique is also seen as a hero by other mutants.
In Pruszkow, Poland, Holocaust survivor Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto (Michael Fassbender), whose principal power is magnetism of metal objects, assumes the name of Henryk Gursky, now having a wife and young daughter, and working in a factory. One day he saves a man's life using his powers. Yet the act wasn't as discrete as he had hoped, as seen by other factory co-workers. Soon after, the town police confront him and his family. Tragedy follows, and those involved pay the price.
Meanwhile at Xavier's school, Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), whose power is telepathy and telekinesis, causes alarming activity in her room from having dreamt scenes of the end of the world. Which simultaneously coincided with disturbing activity from Cairo, Egypt, the site of En Sabah Nur's reawakening. Using Cerebro, a device used to detect both humans and mutants all over the world, Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), a formidable telepath who can read as well as control the minds of others, finds out that Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne), a love interest of over 20 years ago from the previous X-Men film, X-Men: First Class whom he met in 1962, was at the site of En Sabah Nur's reawakening.
Having erased her memory of her involvement shortly after the Cuba aftermath in 1962, both Xavier and Alex Summers/Havok (Lucas Till), older brother of Scott, visit MacTaggert at the CIA. Now a single mother, she informs them about En Sabah Nur and his four followers, thus symbolically representing the four horsemen of the apocalypse. Later, revealed to be Ororo Munroe/Storm (Alexandra Shipp) as Famine, Magneto as War, Angel, now called Archangel with razor sharp metal wings as Death, and the mutant Psylocke (Olivia Munn) as Pestilence. And from there, an epic battle is set to try to prevent En Sabah Nur's plan to cleanse the world.
I was very pleased with Scott Summers/Cyclops (Tye Sheridan) character in this film. Now equipped with ruby quartz eyewear invented by Hank McCoy/Beast (Nicholas Hoult), Scott Summers exhibits moments of leadership in this film which he lacked in other X-Men films. Some fans consider him unfairly underrated despite his power. In the comic X-Men: Civil War No. 4, Iron Man had measured Cyclops optic power blast at over two gigawatts, the equivalent energy output of a nuclear reactor. The Indian Point Nuclear power plant outside New York City has two gigawatts.
Mystique and Jean Grey also exhibit leadership as well, as the two, along with Cyclops, Beast, Nightcrawler, and Peter Maximoff/Quicksilver (Evan Peters) all go flat out in this film. All because the stakes are higher than ever. In X-Men: Days of Future Past, mutants faced extinction. Now it's the human race. True, it is overstuffed, a favorite word used by most critics. Even so, things do coalesce. Bryan Singer as director and Simon Kinberg who crafted the screenplay did very well on this go around by also producing a more muscular film. I give X-Men: Apocalypse five out of five stars.