X-Men: Apocalypse Ultra HD Blu-ray review

A new decade and a new villain leads to a surfeit of new mutants in this bloated blockbuster

After marrying up the two divergent film franchise timelines with 2014's superb X-Men: Days of Future Past, returning director Bryan Singer and writer Simon Kinberg set about continuing the adventures of the younger Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and his fellow super-powered mutants.

Moving the action to the early 1980s, X-Men: Apocalypse's world-ending threat arrives in the form of En Sabah Nur/Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac), a powerful mutant who once ruled as a God in ancient Egypt, only to end up betrayed and buried alive. Awakening in modern Cairo, Apocalypse concludes that humanity has lost its way and sets about remaking the world in his image.

There's a scene roughly halfway through X-Men: Apocalypse that picks up four young mutants leaving a cinema after seeing Return of the Jedi. 'At least we can all agree that the third one is always the worst,' says Sophie Turner's Jean Grey in what could be taken as a jibe aimed at 2006's X-Men: The Last Stand. Sadly, the statement is equally applicable to this film, which effectively closes out the second trilogy that begun with 2011's X-Men: First Class. X-Men: Apocalypse is a muddled and messy movie packed with extraneous characters and subplots.

It certainly delivers when it comes to cinematic spectacle, though. Like everything else, the thinking here seems to be 'bigger is better' – the difference being that with set-piece scenes this approach really pays off. The scale of the action ensures that Apocalypse feels like a far greater threat than any previous franchise villain – and it also makes for some X-citing home cinema fodder.

Picture: Unlike the vast majority of films currently arriving on Ultra HD Blu-ray, this one has been created from an actual, honest-to-goodness 4K digital master put together using a mixture of 6K live action footage and 2K (native) CG effects. The result is images that are among the crispest, cleanest, and most detailed you've seen so far.

It’s not just with its genuine 4K resolution that ...Apocalypse shows off the new disc format’s potential, though. HDR adds much more punch to exteriors – especially those in Egypt – as well as a stronger sense of contrast and solidity to interiors. The expanded colour palette, meanwhile, gives the already richly-coloured costumes, settings and special effects real vibrancy. Everything comes together particularly well in the final climactic battle, which will probably become a staple 4K demo scene.

There are, though, a couple of niggles with ...Apocalypse’s mostly bleeding-edge visual quality. The main one is that the original 2K resolution of the CGI sometimes stands out like a sore thumb. The scene where Cyclops destroys a tree in Xavier’s garden, for instance, ends up looking pretty awkward thanks to the clearly reduced resolution of the digitally-added timber.

The other issue with the transfer's exceptional detailing is that it can sometimes leave costumes looking artificial; more like mere props than the real outfits they’re supposed to be. Though this is perhaps being picky.
Picture rating: 5/5

Audio: The bloated action is accompanied by a potent, well-mixed and highly immersive Dolby Atmos soundtrack (rather than the DTS-HD MA 7.1 mix that features on the 1080p Blu-ray). Expansive and energetic, it puts your sofa amidst the centre of a soundscape full of exciting dynamic peaks and troughs, convincing imaging and apocalyptic levels of bass. It's one of the best I’ve heard at creating an accurate sense of scale, even during truly huge-scale set-pieces like the final fight.
Audio rating: 5/5

Extras: An illuminating array of bonus goodies (found on the standard Blu-ray) includes a chat-track from the director and writer; 12 deleted/extended scenes; a six-part Making of… documentary (64 minutes); and a gag reel. Hopefully, this means that there's no need for a later 'Special Edition' double-dip.
Extras rating: 3.5/5

We say: A great advert for the UHD BD format that could just have done with being built around a better-quality film. But you can't have everything.

X-Men: Apocalypse, Twentieth Century Fox, Ultra HD Blu-ray & Region A/B BD, £30