Verdict: 4 / 5
Mall of Africa in Midrand opened its doors on 28th April 2016 to hordes of bargain hunters and enthusiasts alike, and while many chose to avoid the rush, and the mall altogether, I’ve been there three times, including the official launch of the new Ster-Kinekor IMAX, which screened X-Men: Apocalypse for the event. In fact, both my previous attendances at the mall were to watch IMAX films, entering via the much quieter back gates, avoiding the ever-present mob of mall patrons still vying for space through the main gates.
The 18.8m screen is second in size, with Eastgate IMAX at 22m, and is the seventh IMAX theatre to be launched in South Africa in a period of roughly 30 months. The SK complex houses two separate Cine Prestige 3D-enabled theatres along with another six theatres (two of which are also 3D-enabled), with a combined total of 1122 seats, 364 of which are in the IMAX theatre alone. Having opted to view many of my screenings at Cradlestone Mall with its travel time 10 minutes less than The Grove or Eastgate. The Mall of Africa now provides an IMAX experience a mere five minutes away, something I’ll definitely be enjoying in the months ahead.
X-Men: Apocalypse Review – Spoilers Ahead
Interestingly, this is, possibly, the 9th instalment of the X-Men franchise, which continues to convolute the time frames between each of the films, some continuing directly where previous events ended, while others, as with Day of Future Past, explored the two timelines in the series. Getting your dates and timelines in order isn’t as critical to the story as one would think, especially since X-Men: Apocalypse takes a few moments to touch on events of the previous film, making easier to pick up and watch as a standalone. But, that won’t necessary help you if you’re not familiar with the X-Men franchise in any form, be it the comics, animated series, or previous films.
Did I mention there were spoilers ahead? Turn back before it’s too late.
XMA is a long film, but I feel it deserves to be. The story and origin of Apocalypse is as essential as many of the other characters, although it falls short in completing his full potential in the end. But no matter, there’s only so much time to work with before it becomes to detailed and off point. The story picks up in ancient Egyptian civilisation, to whom Apocalypse is something of a deity, where he about to undergo a transmutation into a more youthful body with healing powers. His plans are interupted by a group of rebels bent on ending his rule over the land.
Fast-forward to 1983 and you’re at the present day in the latest series of films, some time after the events of Days of Future Past. After having been reawoken by a rather simple act of sunlight hitting the previous top of one of the ancient pyramids, Apocalypse seeks out his four horsemen, with Storm (Famine), Magneto (War), Archangel (Death) and Psylocke (Pestilence). Apocalypse’s mutant powers are widespread, while at the same time also enhances other mutant’s powers he encounters. In my mind, long before the final battle and end scenes came around, I was already thinking of how one would destroy such a powerful mutant able to take on the abilities of others by means of a similar transmutation that went awry in the first scene.
It would seem that after the events of Days of Future Past, many of the mutants a living in some utopian world away from all the prejudice of humans, as portrayed by both Prof. X and Magneto. While one is leading a school of mutant teens, the other is a married iron-worker in some remote European town. All their plans are turned on its head by the arrival of Apocalypse, who sets off a change of events leading to chaos and violence. While the events do tie in as a result, the repercussions thereof a far too simple. All the while, Apocalypse recruits his four horsemen, who are chosen almost as insignificant characters dealing with their own set of emotional turmoils, and something preyed upon a little too easily.
Thus far, it would seem as an unsatisfying movie with weak character motivation, and yet it still manages to keep you invested and entertained throughout. The stories of each of the main X-Men play out nicely, with a few annoyances in between, but still relatively positive. There are a few laughs, gaffs, and even a few references to other movies, including previous X-Men films thrown in for good measure. This light-heartedness is personified by the appearance of Quicksilver, as in the events of Days of Future Past, with is snarky rhetorics and awesomely fun scene saving the kids at The School for the Gifted after a bomb has been set off.
The character development of Jean Grey and Scott Summers plays out well, along with the likes of Mystique, Beast and Nightcrawler. In fact, the film takes an interesting look at female lead roles, with a lot of screen-time and emphasis placed on Jean Grey and Mystique.
Skipping through a few scenes we arrive at the end. Apocalypse is a battle against the X-Men, moreover in a battle of will within Xavier’s mind. The moments leading up to this current standoff seemed sufficient, but thinking about the incredible power he possesses makes me question it a little. Then there’s yet another turnaround of motives from the scarred Magneto, who once again goes from good guy, to bad guy, and back again. All of which leads up to the final episode of the battle, as Jean Grey releases her inner demon, Phoenix, to destroy Apocalypse almost from within. For many, it would seem a strange ending and victory over such a villain, but knowing beforehand the full extent of the power Jean Grey has in the Phoenix, it isn’t as silly as it looks. There have been numerous complaints from film goers comparing a screaming Jean Grey to Apocalypse, but they’re missing the point entirely.
I enjoyed how the film played out, more so for the unleashing of Phoenix, which will possibly be tied into the franchise again at a later stage. For a better understanding of the power of the Phoenix, perhaps do a quick Google search, or, for convenience, check out our list of Most Powerful Characters in the Marvel Universe. There are many different origins of the Phoenix, most of which are tied to Jean Grey in some form, one of only a few powerful beings in the universe who may be referenced and depicted in the film franchise.