RATING |

Ancient gods of Egypt: not fun. At least not En Sabah Nur, the mad despot who ruled the throne in 3600 BC and who is busy making plans to rule the world for all eternity at the beginning of the too serious, too long X-Men: Apocalypse.

As the super-mutant nemesis of the latest and perhaps loudest X-Men installment, Sabah Nur has a fixed grim countenance and a sickly blue hue, a low rumbling bellow, and a clunky armored cybersuit - all of which makes the casting of the talented Oscar Isaac in the role pretty much a complete waste. Ohio governor John Kasich could have served just as well.

Speaking of Ohio, that's where director Bryan Singer opts to drop down following his movie's 4th millennium BC prologue (a coup in Sabar Nur's pyramid - angry citizens warning of the "false god").

Scott Summers (Tye Sheridan) is a Buckeye high schooler in need of an optician - his eyes emit deadly blasts of fire and he doesn't know what to do about it. Luckily, he has an older brother with his own mutant powers who brings his troubled sib to Professor Charles Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters - an ivy-ed estate outside New York City where kids with freakish powers learn to harness them, and hopefully assimilate into society.

The year is 1983 and Xavier, as he was in 2011's prequel X-Men: First Class and 2014's companion piece, X-Men: Days of Future Past, is played by James McAvoy, presiding over his institute with a sad-eyed but sanguine look, safe in the knowledge that he will grow old to look more and more like Patrick Stewart.

It is here in Westchester County - and then in East Berlin and the forests of Poland, among other fave tourist spots - that the X-Men are introduced (or reintroduced, if you've been keeping up). Jennifer Lawrence is back as Mystique, with her spray-on glittery blue skin and her shapeshifting skill sets. Nicholas Hoult is Hank McCoy, a.k.a. Beast, a blue wolf-y guy. (Alternative title for X-Men: Apocalypse - Blue Is the Weirdest Color?)

Lucas Till is Alex Summers, a.k.a. Havok, a guy who is literally full of energy. Sophie Turner is Jean Grey, Xavier's telekinetic soulmate. Kodi Smit-McPhee is Nightcrawler, a teleporting teen.

And Evan Peters is Peter Maximoff, a.k.a. Quicksilver, whose ability to stop time comes in handy at a most critical juncture. (He gets the best musical accompaniment, too: dashing around in hyperspeed to Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams Are Made of This.")

And then there is the troubled Magneto, whose real name is Erik Lehnsherr and who again is played by a stern and somber Michael Fassbender.

It is in the aforementioned Polish woods that Erik has carved out a new, anonymous life, working in a factory and coming home to his loving wife and lovely child. It's a modest, meaningful existence, so you know it will soon come to a sorry end, which it does, leading to Magneto's ill-advised alliance with the eons-old Egyptian tyrant.

Magneto and Xavier, mutant comrades, are now at odds, just like the warring superheroes of Captain America: Civil War and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Can't we all just get along?

Also figuring prominently in X-Men: Apocalypse is Rose Byrne, as CIA agent Moira MacTaggert. She has a love-thing going with Professor Xavier, although she doesn't know it because he's erased their romance from her memory. And prominently displaying her figure is Olivia Munn, clad in saucy warrior garb and striking sexy poses as Psylocke, a mutant who aligns herself with Mr. Apocalypse.

Yes, it's quite a crowd, and that's not the half of it. This ninth installment in the Marvel mutant superhero franchise is rife with urgent and (dare we say?) apocalyptic comings and goings, with characters and confrontations that seem at once familiar and befuddling.

It's the end of the world as we know it - because we've seen it in a dozen other superhero movies by now.

srea@phillynews.com
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MOVIE REVIEW

X-Men: Apocalypse

2 1/2 (Out of four stars)

Directed by Bryan Singer. With Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, James McAvoy, Oscar Isaac, Rose Byrne, and Tye Sheridan. Distributed by Twentieth Century Fox.

Running time: 2 hours, 24 mins.

Parent's guide: PG-13 (violence, adult themes).

Playing at: Area theaters.