It’s a funny thing about those X Men films. It always seems that when they hit the third installment things seem to go awry. This happened with the original X Men trilogy—witness X Men: The Last Stand—and now it’s happened with X Men: Apocalypse which is, coincidentally, the third installment in the series of prequels that began with X Men: First Class back in 2011. Apocalypse is a long and lumbering behemoth of a film (even by X Men standards and that’s saying something) that never seems to get off the ground. It contains one of the most mediocre villains in the franchise’s history and it spends too much time giving its great cast little or nothing of note to do. After awhile it just became an endurance contest and a struggle to keep my eyelids open during the film’s final hour.

x-men-apocalypseThe fact that X Men: Apocalypse is such a disappointment is a bit of a surprise considering that it was directed by Bryan Singer, who helmed the last installment (Days of Future Past) and the initial two films (X Men, X 2) in the series.

Jennifer Lawrence & Oscar Issac in X Men: Apocalypse

In terms of quality, these were all considered to be benchmarks in the series. Now Singer has done the unthinkable and unleashed what is sure to go down as one of the worst entries in the franchise yet. It’s something that I honestly don’t think fans of the series could have seen coming especially after the good will engendered by the largely successful last installment.

The plot, hinted at during a post-credits sequence on the last film, revolves around the villain of the film’s title, Apocalypse. He’s played in the film by the great Oscar Issacs but you wouldn’t know it since he’s disguised by the ton of makeup that is required to accurately portray the character as depicted in the comics. Beyond that, he’s just not an interesting enough villain to even bother taking note of nor for that matter, is Issacs’ performance. At any rate, Apocalypse is a centuries-old mutant who enlists Magneto (Michael Fassbender), who’s reeling from a personal tragedy, to assist him in his plans to take over the world. It then falls into the hands of Raven (Jennifer Lawrence), Professor X (James McAvoy) and the rest of X Men gang to save the universe.

There’re so many things wrong with the film it’s hard to pinpoint what exactly is the chief problem. Mostly, I think the film’s biggest transgression is simply that it’s dull and doesn’t give the characters anything of interest to do above the run of the mill comic book shenanigans we’ve come to expect from these kinds of things. Technically the film looks okay but on closer inspection it’s easy to see what a hollow and uninspired product it happens to be. This is far from an atrocity along the lines of last summer’s Fantastic Four, but it’s still pretty dull.