X-Men: Apocalypse

Director: Bryan Singer (2016)

Yawn your way to the end of the world in this inert episode of the increasingly under powered superhero franchise.

Bloated and boring, an exasperting multitude of characters are poorly served by laboured direction, haphazard editing and dialogue empty of any lyricism, humour or subtlety.

Lines of exposition are expanded to scene length and decorated with close ups of actors indifferent to the weightless CGI events occurring behind them. Presented with a lacklustre script, the top drawer cast offer up correspondent performances.

James McAvoy returns as Professor X, the wheelchair bound and telepathic leader of supergroup the X-Men who believes in peaceful co-existence with non-mutants. As his one time friend Magneto, Michael Fassbender wants the world to feel his pain.

Minor characters pose in heroic silence as the pair once again rehash their world views. In a film adverse to brevity, their relationship is underlined by the inclusion of footage of earlier films.

Oscar Isaac is barely recognisable and mostly immobile as the eponymous Apocalypse, a mutant from ancient Egypt who is resurrected by devout yet curiously security lax followers.

With the  ability to turn people to earth and metal, Apocalypse wants to build a better world from the ashes of the present one and starts recruiting mutants to serve him in his nefarious plan.

Jennifer Lawrence looks bored as the shapeshifting Mystique who seems to have mutated into a thin copy of her character Katnis Everdeen from The Hunger Games series (2012-15).

Now a reluctant global poster girl for mutants in hiding, Mystique needs convincing to take arms against Apocalypse.

Hugh Jackman cameos as Wolverine while Rose Byrne is beginning to rival Fassbender for being the best actor making the weakest career choices.

Evan Peters and Kodi Smit-McPhee as Quicksilver and Nightcrawler are the best of the B team. Olivia Munn, Ben Hardy, Alexandra Shipp and Sophie Turner are eager but forgettable.

The setting of 1983 allows for pop culture references to be scattered around but there’s a lack of the wit to exploit their comic potential.

Though the Cold War and the nuclear arms race are a major subplot, a nuclear launch occurs and is promptly forgotten about while our focus hurries away elsewhere.

Director Singer kickstarted with his career with the masterful The Usual Suspects (1995) and launched this series with the energetic X-Men (2000) but this is closer in muddled mediocrity to his Jack The Giant Slayer (2013).

The end of the world can’t come soon enough for this flatlining franchise.

 

Scouts Guide To The Zombie Apocalypse

Director: Christopher B. Landon (2015)

There’s a bucketful of juvenile bad taste fun splashing about in this unsophisticated zomcom.

It’s a teenage boy fantasy of blood splattering adventure, available hot older babes, pneumatic policewomen and strippers.

After an incident featuring a janitor, a lab and a vending machine, the zombie apocalypse begins in a dull small town.

A trio of horny scouts find their outdoor skills come in unexpectedly useful.

Joey Morgan, Logan Miller and Tye Sheridan play the scouts and are respectively fat, loud and sensitive.

Loyalties are divided and the boys’ friendship is tested as they fight their way across town to gatecrash a secret rave.

David Koechner is their wig wearing Scout Leader whose Dolly Parton obsession extends to having her bust on his living room wall.

Sarah Dumont is a shot-gun wielding cocktail waitress in denim hot pants who offers leggy life lessons.

Cloris Leachman potters about as a secateur wielding senior citizen.

A vaguely mentioned viral outbreak is as much explanation as the script is interested in offering in explanation.

Instead the focus is on keeping the action brisk and the humour flowing.

It’s easy to imagine it as the spawn of the sci-fi biker sequence from John Hughes’ Weird Science (1985) stretched to a feature length.

Nor is it a million miles away from Life After Beth (2014) in tone, ambition or budget.

Teenage boys will love it but everyone else may want to avoid it like the zombie plague.