"Saved by the Grace of God"
What You Need To Know:
The spectacle sometimes threatens to overwhelm X-MEN: APOCALYPSE, but the movie’s compelling and entertaining throughout. Surprisingly, it has some overt Christian content, including positive references to prayer and one to Jesus. One character even says their prayers were answered, while another says humanity survived by “the grace of God.” MOVIEGUIDE® advises strong caution, however, because of brief foul language, plenty of action violence and a couple lines of dialogue that partly contradict the Christian content in X-MEN: APOCALYPSE.
(Pa, BB, CC, Pa, O, FR, Ab, L, VVV, N, A, D, M) Light mixed pagan worldview with strong moral elements and strong Christian elements that include one X-Man mutant is a Christian, who prays to God at an important moment, a character says humanity was saved from total destruction by “the grace of God,” the beginning credit sequence shows historical events for the last 5,500 years or so in a fast artistic montage that includes metallic looking sculptures and one sculpture clearly shows Jesus Christ carrying his cross to Calvary, and a government official tells the President of the United States at the end that “our prayers were answered,” mixed with some pagan, occult content in a story about human beings having special, sometimes occult-like powers such as telekinesis and telepathy, and brief anti-biblical, blasphemous references such as villain has amassed god-like powers and says in the ancient past people called him “Elohim” (which can refer to the biblical God or false pagan gods) and “Ra” the Egyptian sun god, woman tells man the villain is called “Apocalypse” and is always accompanied by four mutants with powers like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in the Bible, and man says the villain got that from the Bible, but woman replied that maybe the Bible got that from Apocalypse, and Ancient Egyptian rebels call the villain a “false god,” as they revolt against his harsh rule in first scene; six mostly light obscenities (but including one “f” word), one GD profanity and one or two light exclamatory profanities; brief very strong violence with several images of blood splatter shows Wolverine character going berserk and killing multiple soldiers holding him prisoner and villain slashes several throats, and it’s implied he beheads three men using his power to manipulate sand, plus lots of strong and light action violence includes stabbings, piercings, fighting, punching, kicking, energy blasts, character blasts things with red rays coming out from his eyes, lighting power strikes, martial arts, characters thrown against stationary objects, villain changes mutant’s wings into steel wings that enable him to throw steel feathers into opponents’ bodies, character thrown to floor during mental battle, characters knocked unconscious, mutant uses fire whip, little girl and her mother are accidently killed by an arrow as they’re embracing while being menaced and surrounded by angry men, one of the violent battles with Apocalypse takes place in the lead hero’s telepathic mind, and during a massive explosion a superfast character saves people’s lives while knocking debris away from them; no sex; brief upper male nudity; alcohol use; no smoking or drugs; and, characters are enslaved but are freed.
X-MEN: APOCALYPSE shows the young X-Men mutants and Professor Xavier battling an immortal mutant with godlike powers, who recruits four other mutants to destroy the human race and all its technology so they can rule supreme. X-MEN: APOCALYPSE is compelling and entertaining and, although the premise is sometimes unclear, it has strong moral elements and overt Christian content mixed with lots of action violence, brief foul language and some brief religious references that slightly undermine the Christian ones.
The movie opens in 3600 “BCE” (which can mean either Before the Common Era or Before the Christian Era, take your pick) in Ancient Egypt. The Egyptian ruler is Apocalypse, an immortal mutant who can accumulate the powers of other mutants by possessing their bodies in a bizarre ritual involving what looks like molten gold. Apocalypse is about to transfer his soul into a young mutant when a large group of rebels storm his pyramid palace yelling, “False god!” Apocalypse is able to transfer his soul, but the body becomes entombed as the rebels collapse the huge pyramid upon Apocalypse.
Cue the credits, which show a montage of historical highlights from Ancient Egypt to 1983. One of the images shows is an impressive picture, looking like a huge sculpture, of Jesus Christ carrying the cross to Calvary.
In 1983, Apocalypse is accidentally set free from his tomb in Cairo. Looking around, Apocalypse is enraged that humans no longer treat mutants as gods. So, he assembles a team of four other powerful mutants, including a disheartened Magneto. Apocalypse enhances their powers so he can destroy humankind and create a new world order.
Meanwhile, Charles Xavier, at his School for Gifted Children, gets wind of what’s happening and tries to connect with a woman he knows who works at the CIA. Apocalypse soon announces his intentions to the world and starts by using Xavier’s telepathic connection to the powerful Cerebro machine to send all the world’s nuclear missiles into outer space and blow them up. With help from Mystique, Cyclops, Jean Grey, Beast, Quicksilver, and a recently discovered Nightcrawler, Charles tries to stop Apocalypse and Magneto. However, the task of defeating Apocalypse proves to be much more difficult than Charles imagined.
The spectacle threatens to overwhelm X-MEN: APOCALYPSE, but Director Bryan Singer manages to keep the story and characters moving. Except for Evan Peters, who plays Quicksilver, the veteran actors excel the best, while the younger actors (even Jennifer Lawrence) seem to get lost. The characters here are just not quite as interesting as the characters in the Marvel superhero movies (see the most recent CAPTAIN AMERICA movie, CIVIL WAR). Perhaps Xavier needs another older character to guide the younger mutant students. Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique tries to fit that bill here, but she’s too young to play such a role. The X-Men also clearly miss Wolverine, though he does make a cameo in the story.
That said, X-MEN: APOCALYPSE is compelling and entertaining throughout. Even better, there are several overt Christian, redemptive elements that play a major role in the movie. There’s the image of Jesus Christ during the opening credits of course, but the movie also twice extols the power of prayer. In one unexpectedly long sequence, the Nightcrawler character (who becomes a Catholic in the X-Men comic books and tries to become a priest) prays to God before going into a battle. Later, a government official tells the President of the United States, “Our prayers were answered.” Also, after Apocalypse’s plan to destroy the human race is defeated, a character says that humanity was “saved by the grace of God.” This Christian content is accompanied by strong moral elements, including calls for peace between mutant humans and regular humans. Also, the heroes band together to stop the villains, who are consumed by hatred and (as is the case with Magneto) a desire for revenge. In addition, the top villain, Apocalypse, wants to control the minds of all humans so he can rule unopposed. The movie clearly sees this as evil.
Although the Christian, moral elements win the day, X-MEN: APOCALYPSE has some objectionable Anti-Christian, Non-Christian and Anti-Biblical content.
First, some of the mutants have occult-like powers such as telepathy and telekinesis. Although this is placed in a scientific context, it could lead to more of an acceptance by moviegoers of the occult.
Also, despite the movie’s overt positive references to Christ’s crucifixion and the grace of God, it contains a couple brief heretical, blasphemous moments. In one scene, a female agent from the CIA, who’s been investigating ancient stories about Apocalypse, says Apocalypse is always accompanied by four mutant helpers, like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Charles tells her that Apocalypse must have gotten that idea from the Bible. The woman replies, “Or, the Bible got that from him.” At another point, Apocalypse says that ancient people often thought of him as a god because of his power. He says they used to call him names like “Elohim” and “Ra.” Ra is the name of the Egyptian sun god, while “Elohim” is a plural form of two Hebrew words for God, “El” and “Eloah.” In fact, the Hebrew Bible often uses the word Elohim to describe the power, magnificence and transcendence of God (see Genesis 1:1 and Jeremiah 31:33) as well as His might, His creative power and His justice. The Hebrew word Elohim also accommodates the Christian doctrine of the Holy Trinity (see Matthew 28:19). By allowing Apocalypse to refer to himself as Elohim, the filmmakers behind X-MEN: APOCALYPSE undermine and even contradict the other positive references to God, Jesus Christ and prayer in their movie. At the very least, this line of dialogue exhibits confusion and will breed more confusion in the real world.
Even so, however, Jewish and Christian viewers can take comfort in the fact that the movie’s other references to religion, God, Jesus Christ, and prayer are linked to the movie’s premise of good conquering evil. After all, it is Apocalypse himself who says that people in the past called him names like Elohim and Ra. So, his words here can be seen as a record of Apocalypse historically trying to appropriate such names in order to rule over ancient people as a “god.” In fact, El, the root word in Elohim, is a standard term for God in many Semitic languages of ancient times, including the Ugaritic language, Aramaic, Phoenician, and early forms of the Hebrew language, languages that have their origins back to 3750 B.C. and beyond. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, Elohim occurs in the Hebrew Bible 2570 times, but the Hebraic proper name for God, Yahweh (or “I am who I am”) occurs more than six thousand times in the Bible. Interestingly, the Hebrew Bible also uses the word Elohim to describe false gods, angels, judges, and kings.
Happily, X-MEN: APOCALYPSE is free of any sexual content or explicit nudity, although Mystique’s original blue skin is covered by raised designs that hide her private parts. Also, although the movie contains an “f” word and a GD profanity, its foul language is significantly less than what Marvel recently has been inserting into its other superhero movies rated PG-13. There are also a few scenes in APOCALYPSE containing some slightly graphic or very strong violence that seems to cross the line. In one scene, for example, Wolverine is released from a very confined cell, and he starts to kill the soldiers who keep guard and abuse him. Although the camera doesn’t show his steel claws penetrating their flesh, there are a few shots with some blood splattering during Wolverine’s rampage. There are also a couple scenes where Apocalypse slits the throats of some people. In one of those scenes, the movie implies that Apocalypse is decapitating three men by slitting their throats using his power to manipulate sand and other material objects. The rest of the movie, however, is filled with lots of strong and light action violence, such as punching, kicking, stabbing, throwing characters against walls and other hard objects, and hitting people with energy blasts based in the mutant powers of the heroes and villains.
Because of the brief extreme violence and strong foul language, and the other brief negative content, MOVIEGUIDE® advises strong caution for X-MEN: APOCALYPSE.