Australian Council on Children and the Media

X-Men: Apocalypse

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Not suitable under 13; not recommended 13 to15 due to intense violence, and disturbing scenes and characters

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for X-Men: Apocalypse
  • a review of X-Men: Apocalypse completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 23 May 2016.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not suitable due to intense violence, and disturbing scenes and characters
Children aged 13 to 15 Not recommended due to intense violence, and disturbing scenes and characters
Children 15 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: X-Men: Apocalypse
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Frequent action violence and infrequent coarse language
Length 144 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

The latest X-Men film is set ten-years after the events of the film X-Men: Days of future past. The first and most dangerous mutant to exist, En Sabah Nur/Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) has been entombed for five thousand years until CIA agent Moira MacTaggert (Rose Byrne) enters his tomb and accidentally wakes him.

Once awakened Apocalypse quickly finds mutants to become his four horsemen - Magneto (Michael Fassbender) was attempting to live a normal life when his world fell apart, Storm (Alexandra Shipp) is a thief on the streets of Cairo, Angel (Ben Hardy) is a star attraction as a cage fighter in Berlin and Psylocke (Olivia Munn) is working as a bodyguard.

Meanwhile, Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult) have been busy teaching young powerful mutants to control their powers at their school for “The Gifted”. New to the school is Scott “Cyclops” Summers (Tye Turner) who is befriended by resident student Jean Grey (Sophie Turner). Quick Silver (Evan Peters) and Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) are other new arrivals to the school. Also back at the school for a visit is Raven/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), who has been busy rescuing mutants from humans.

Unfortunately for mankind, Apocalypse finds humanity wanting and decides to remake the world for mutants with humans as their slaves and himself as supreme ruler. It is up to Professor X, Mystique, Beast, and the fledgling X-Men to save the world by stopping Apocalypse and his four horsemen.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Superpowers: mutants; megalomania and world domination; the Apocalypse

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

The film contains intense and frequent violence. Examples include:

  • In one scene we see a man lying on a stone altar. A large knife is used to slice open the man’s stomach. The wound immediately heals leaving no trace of the incision.
  • A young teenage boy loses control of his super powers while at school and beams of energy shoot out of his eyes and destroy large chunks of the school toilet block, causing an explosion. When we next see the boy his eyes are bandaged.
  • Apocalypse uses his powers to form sand into a weapon that decapitates three men. We see the heads severed and rolling away.
  • Angel is seen as a cage fighter surrounded by armed guards and spectators, and having just defeated a man who collapses covered in bloody cuts. Angel is confronted by Nightcrawler who receives shocks several times when he tries to climb the electrified wire mesh surrounding the fight cage. At one point during the fight Nightcrawler picks up Angel and throws him against the electrified mesh. During the cage fight Mystique arrives, knocking several guards unconscious. By working together with Mystique’s help Nightcrawler and Angel escape the cage and run from the building, with guards firing automatic weapons in close pursuit.
  • Apocalypse causes a massive explosion that incinerates a number of workers. They are engulfed in flame and swept away.  
  • In an emotionally intense scene a young girl and her parents are surrounded by uniformed guards wielding bows and arrows. When a guard grabs hold of the young girl, large flocks of birds begin to gather and the guard panics.  He fires an arrow which hits the mother in the back, then impales the daughter through the chest. The distraught father cries uncontrollably as he holds his dead wife and daughter in his arms. He then kills a number of guards in a fit of rage.         
  • In the most brutal and violent scene, Wolverine breaks out of prison and goes berserk, killing every guard he encounters. He uses his blades to stab and slash guards. Dead guards lie on the floor with blood flowing from their wounds and pooling on the ground. Blood is splattered across wall and on Wolverine’s fists and blades.
  • The film’s main battle occurs between two groups of mutants, each using their specialised power. Lightning bolts, laser whips and swords are used. One mutant smashes his head through the windscreen of a plane which then crashes into the ground killing him (we see the blood splattered face of the mutant moments before the plane crashes). A second mutant is nearly crushed by a falling car and we hear the sound of bones breaking as a third mutant is attacked and has his arm broken.  A female uses her laser sword to slash the throat of another mutant.  A female mutant is lifted into the air and strangled, her body changing colour and form. A male is picked up and bashed against walls and stone pillars; he lies on the ground with blood flowing from his mouth and pooling. A mutant is impaled by dozens of steel beams and poles until his body is encased in steel, then engulfed in flames that burn the mutant’s flesh from his body, revealing a skeleton which then disintegrates.             

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are many scenes in this movie that will scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • Many of the characters are scary for young children. For example, Apocalypse has alien facial features including blue/black skin, eyes that can appear either entirely white or entirely black, facial scars and alien patterning on his forehead, strange appendages coming out of the back of his head and full body armour.Nightcrawler has a demonic appearance. His skin is blue/black in colour, his face is covered in facial tattoos and scars and he has a mouth full of sharp carnivore-like teeth. He has rat-like hands with two fingers and a thumb and talon-like claws for fingernails, and a long reptilian tail.
  • Archangel has wings formed of bird-like feathers with a hooked talon protruding from the wingtip. At one point in the film Archangel is infused with super-mutant power causing his feathered wings to mutate. He writhes on the ground in pain as pieces of rib-like bone punch out of his body and change to metal.
  • The film contains several scenes depicting apocalyptic images of the end of the world with entire cities destroyed, transformed into swirling masses of debris.
  • A man is sucked into a stone wall and trapped; we see the man’s nose, mouth and eyes poking out of the wall and see his eyes blinking. 

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group will also be disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by a number of the above-mentioned scenes, particularly the death of the child and her mother.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Younger children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes.

Product placement

None of concern in the film, but plenty of associated merchandise

Sexual references

None of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

  • Female characters wear tight fitting and revealing body suits.
  • A couple kiss passionately

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Cigarette smoking
  • A young man drinks from a bottle of vodka and acts in a somewhat intoxicated, over confident manner.
  • In one scene we see a woman holding a glass of wine.
  • A briefcase contains syringes filled with a blue liquid.    

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • kicked your arse; arsehole; loser; freak; piss off; fuck; o my god, what the hell?

In a nutshell

X-Men: Apocalypse is an action adventure targeting adolescents, and adult fans of Marvel comics, with a number of new characters and some spectacular special effects. At 144 minutes, it is a very long film.  

The film was originally rated MA15+ by the Classification Board and re-rated M by the Classification Review Board after an appeal from the distributor.  It contains some emotionally intense scenes, including the death of a mother and child, and many violent and scary scenes and characters that may disturb younger viewers. It is not suitable for children under 13 and not recommended under 15.

The main messages from this movie are that:

  • People fear that which is different or that which they do not understand.
  • Those with power must protect those without power.
  • Working together allows people to achieve much more than they could achieve by themselves.

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