X-Men: Apocalypse (Ultra HD 4K Blu-ray)

October 4, 2016 9 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

I am an X-Men fan. I have been for nearly thirty years now and it goes back to my comic book reading in the mid 80’s (does that date me?). I saw the first X-Men movie back in 2000 and haven’t missed one, or a spinoff, since.  Granted I’ve got a bit more history with our mutant friends than the average moviegoer, as the timeline doesn’t necessarily sync up with what was presented in the comics, but I will not complain. Back in 2011, after the first three X-Men films had essentially run their course, we were introduced to a, well, new class. This set the stage for a new series of films and in only five years we’ve been given three new ones. Gone are the faces of Hugh Jackman (though he does make a cameo in First Class) and the gang, but we meet younger versions of those who we saw in the first three films. Oddly, First Class took place in the 60’s, Days of Future Past in the 70’s and with X-Men: Apocalypse we’re smack dab in the middle of the 80’s. I take it that the next one will take place in the 90’s? Maybe their goal is to come full circle? Nevertheless, let’s get down to it.

The first mutant, who will be known as Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) has been at rest for quite some time. It’s 1983 and Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) is running his school for gifted youngsters (mutants). But after Apocalypse is awakened, he starts to recruit a series of mutants that he feels will help him with his goal – world domination (of sorts) and the extinction of mankind. We see the crew of the X-Men assembled with Havok (Lucas Till), Cyclops (Tye Sheridan) and Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) among others. And it wouldn’t be an X-Men film if we didn’t have Magneto (Michael Fassbender) along with a way too long story as to why he’s back in the fold. And, as we might expect, this sets the stage for an all out war – it’s the X-Men versus Apocalypse and his horesmen. There are a few other odds and ends, but looking at it from a birds eye view that’s the gist of it.

It’s both a curse and a blessing that the X-Men aren’t officially in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (The Avengers, Ant-Man, Guardians of the Galaxy, etc.). Why? Blame the lawyers. Well actually blame Marvel who, in a fit of panic, sold the rights to the X-Men to Fox along with some other notable characters like Deadpool, Doctor Doom and the Fantastic Four. So, uninformed reader, if you’re wondering why you don’t see Wolverine doing battle with Captain America – that’s why. On a side note, Marvel did the same thing with Spider-Man only they sold the rights to Columbia/Tristar (now Sony), but if you’ve seen Captain America: Civil War, it looks like that’s a thing of the past.  But to the “blessing” part of this, they also don’t have to worry about any ramifications in other parts of the MCU. The more probing question is will this be the end of the X-Men films? I doubt it. The box office might have been rather lackluster, but if there’s a way they can tie the X-Men in with the rest of the MCU, that could be what they need to get things back on track.

Video: How’s it look?

Like the recently-released X-Men: First Class, this is yet another X-Men film that has seen the light of Ultra HD (X-Men: Days of Future Past was one of Fox’s inaugural 4K titles). Being a new movie to the format, my hopes were high and, thankfully, this looks downright amazing. As I’ve said in previous 4K reviews, the main difference between a 4K title and its Blu-ray counterpart seems, to me, to be the color rendering. Each seems pretty spot on in terms of clarity, overall sharpness, contrast and the like but what really got me was some of the colors. Take the gold “blood” of Apocalypse’s tomb, the little nuances of lights running through Cerebro’s helmet and some of the gradients in the sky. The definition isn’t limited to things like that, though, there are little things like the pulses in Psylocke’s energy sword, Cyclops’ beams…amazing.

Audio: How’s it sound?

Fox has given this movie a Dolby Atmos soundtrack and the movie makes full use of it. From the very beginning, there’s just a basic hum that seems to be present throughout. This isn’t a defect, rather it just seems to promote the fact that there’s an aural aura to the entire film. Vocals are, of course, crisp and clear. The surrounds (which now include the ceiling) are also used to great effect and this comes into play with the war on Apocalypse and his minions. I’m sure I’d have done some damage to my neck if I tried to turn around and “spot” every single instance of sound and part of the beauty of an Atmos mix is that it encompasses you as opposed to having standard directional effects. Whatever your setup, this does not disappoint in the least.

Supplements: What are the extras?

  • Deleted/Extended Scenes – Complete with optional Introductions by Bryan Singer, these are presented. Though with a 144 minute running time, these were cut to avoid a 3 hour X-Men movie.
  • Gag Reel – Shenanigans on the set!
  • Wrap Party Video – Pretty much that – the cast celebrates after principal filming takes place.
  • X-Men: Apocalypse Unearthed – The most robust supplement is this documentary running just over an hour. Essentially everything is covered here from casting, special effects and taking on the God of all mutants.
  • Audio Commentary – Bryan Singer and Simon Kinberg combine to bring us a very informative (Singer was the director of the first X-Men back in 2000) commentary that showed what they were trying to accomplish, some of the character motivations and casting. It’s an engaging track full of little fun bits of information.
  • Concept Art and Photo Gallery – Stills from the film as well as some conceptual artwork.

The Bottom Line

Admittedly the bar was set pretty high with First Class and Days of Future Past. While X-Men: Apocalypse is by no means a bad movie, the consensus seems to be that this is the weakest of the “new” three films. I think the filmmakers were trying to give us a few too many new faces instead of focusing on the central plot. Then again that’s just my opinion. This Ultra HD offering delivers the goods on both audio and video as we might expect, but this is one that just didn’t live up to the hype.

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