X-Men: Apocalypse Blu-ray Review

When the world-ending villain is the wrong one

Choking on its fan service and battling to preserve continuity with far too many films in this series, Fox’s X-Men heads toward a needed retirement – hopefully.

In Apocalypse, characters knock on the fourth wall, deriding how poor third films often are, unaware how self-referential the joke turns out to be. Marvel’s impact (if any) drifts off into the nether realm while under control of Fox, leaving Apocalypse rotting and struggling with tonality.

World-ending proportions decorate the plot, sending a kind of/sort of mutant god into the 1980s – that’s where this new timeline led to. Thankfully, the allure of ’80s nostalgia doesn’t impede on the story; it’s only a backdrop, not an excuse for licensed hair band tracks. There’s no time for songs anyway. Some dozen mutants figure into the story, each distributed piecemeal into heroic/evil camps. Apocalypse’s set-up bounces off Captain America: Civil War in a sense of how divided the teams are, although without the moral complexity. Oscar Isaac’s Apocalypse has no good to offer.

The best thread remains with Professor Xavier (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender). Although it’s likely the studio wished to avoid being repetitive in casting Magneto as the villain in back-to-back films, his dilemma is the only one of consequence. Apocalypse is dull, placid villainy. He destroys for ego; Magneto wraps into the X-Men’s themes of family and togetherness, albeit in the wrong direction.

While often visually spectacular… the mega-scaled slugfest feels routine

Expecting links to X-Men’s more socially progressive threads is wishful. Mystique hides her true identity, but more because of her growing fame than persecution. In the role, Jennifer Lawrence spouts a grand line about how things appear normal for mutants, while it’s clearly untrue for much of society. Soon, this tiny glimpse of reactionary, real world commentary slips away. The litany of action scenes to come turn into a bombardment, and often without narrative purpose.

To move forward, Apocalypse needs contrivances and coincidence. Everything comes powered by an unclean script, tugging the film between allegiances. Either show off comic-accurate representations or bow to the needs of this trilogy. Apocalypse ends on three different finales, clustered and frustrating. While often visually spectacular – and a repeat of Days of Future Past’s Quicksilver moment earns a pass for being so inventively cool – the mega-scaled slugfest feels routine. At its worst, the finale calls back to Fantastic Four2015’s Fantastic Four, the last comparison Fox wants drawn to their X-Men films. Or, any of their films.

It’s getting tough out there for superheroes.

X-Men Apocalypse Blu-ray screen shot 14

Video

Freed from the cohesive look of mainline Marvel, Bryan Singer returns and directs a movie with plenty of blue. And orange. Lots of orange. A few dashes of color help now and then. Exteriors glaze over with amber hues. Some greens flesh out the look of Xavier’s schoolyard. Much of the closing act holds to a dusty brown, at least a touch different than the frequent (and dreary) grays of Marvel’s movie “universe.”

Clarity from the digital source provides detail for Apocalypse. Some astounding close-ups fill the frame with some frequency. Softer cinematography and even dimmer visual effects take away some of the energy, but not regularly. Make-up covering Oscar Isaac for the duration holds under the scrutiny of this resolution.

Early on, black levels pose a concern. Their dimness and lack of density immediately call the disc into question. Later, not as much. Images deepen and depth begins to take hold. Certain shots become absolute marvels of contrast and dimensionality.

A few rounds of noise seems standard anymore. Only a single late shot of Jean Grey is significantly impacted. Fox’s encode performs fine with plenty of space given to the film itself.

Audio

With great range and power, this DTS-HD 7.1 track fixes issues with Days of Future Past’s weak soundstage. Opening on a pyramid collapse, a flawless debris field sweeps around the channels with accentuation from the LFE. Strong directional focus keeps each speaker active with plenty do to.

This continues into a number of highlights, including a hallway shoot-out with gunfire specifically laid out as the camera whips around. The litany of beam attacks to follow only continues, with various telepathy striking hard in the low-end. As Apocalypse calls on Magento, the resulting earthquakes have their moment.

Still, all considered, Apocalypse lacks legs. Accuracy falls a touch short in moments. Ambiance isn’t much of a factor, and subwoofer support lags ever so slightly behind other contemporaries.

Extras

Bryan Singer pairs with screenplay writer Simon Kinberg on a commentary track, Singer’s involvement continuing as he introduces 13 deleted scenes. The lengthy gag reel which follows is pure gold at times. Artwork factors into two different galleries, one based on concept art, the other of set photography. A video played for the wrap party comes in under five minutes.

The big one here is Unearthed, a seven part making-of just breaching the one hour mark. While at times pedestrian, the length affords this one time to build on the details.

Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process. Patreon supporters were able to access these screens early, view them as .pngs, and gain access to exclusives.