The mutant power possessed by the "X-Men" franchise? Its ability to adapt to the times.
Something seriously sapped that super power in “X-Men: Apocalypse,” the weakest film in the series. It’s neither revolutionary or exhilarating. Instead, the movie offers up stale superhero moments en route to a forgettable finale.
It’s never “Green Lantern” level bad, but a letdown is a letdown no matter the colors on the superhero uniforms.
And our young heroes don’t have the old schoolers to kick around anymore.
“Apocalypse” opens with an impressive prologue. We’re introduced to the original mutant, a figure who can summon the supernatural powers of others. Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac, “The Force Awakens”) has been dormant for centuries, but he awakens in the mid-80s, ready to sculpt the world in his image.
That means ridding the globe of those pesky humans. But he’ll need a few teammates to get the job done.
That leaves it up to Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and his still raw recruits to stop him.
Can battle-tested Beast (Nicholas Hoult) and Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) lead the youngsters to victory? Some of them barely know their own powers, which makes saving humanity that much harder.
Once more we see each side assembling their squads, a laborious task lacking the surprise or whimsy we’ve seen in better super films.
The recent “X-Men” installments have been blessed by terrific casts. Here, Lawrence simply punches the clock, as does McAvory, tasked with a silly love subplot beneath the franchise.
Michael Fassbender’s Magneto is given a wrenching personal tragedy. It’s still a retread of his character’s suddenly tired formula.
Just whose side is Magneto on this week?
The new kids on the X-block are all fine, but no one grabs the moment like Hugh Jackman did in the first “X-Men.”
Evan Peters comes closest, giving his Quicksilver character an impish sense of fun as he did with “X-Men: Days of Future Past.” Too bad he’s saddled with a familial subplot that feels more gimmicky than genuine. Isaac, a terrific actor, has some moments as Apocalypse but he’s similarly abandoned by the script.
Even those who crave superhero action will come away disappointed. The final act is busy, no doubt, but there’s little going on up until that point.
It takes a sly, and refreshing cameo to remind us why we loved the franchise in the first place.
The “X-Men” films have evolved into another self-referential affair. That works best when each new chapter moves the narrative forward or offers something revelatory and fun. Not here.
“X-Men: Apocalypse” feels like a franchise that should take a knee.