Quick Take: Alice Through the Looking Glass & X-men: Apocalypse
Sorry for the long vacation from writing! I just haven't had a lot of subject matter that I've wanted to discuss as of late. But that all changes this weekend as suddenly two sequel blockbusters arrive to vie for your attention during Memorial Weekend: Alice Through the Looking Glass and X Men: Apocalypse. I was able to see both films this week, which means it's time for a double review. We'll start with Alice.
When movies make money, they get a sequel. Even if no one really asked for one. That just seems to be the way it is these days. And so, it was only a matter of time until Tim Burton's take on Alice in Wonderland from 2010 got a sequel since it made a billion dollars on its release. But hey, no harm no foul right? I mean...technically the book Alice's Adventures in Wonderland already had a sequel itself, so there is plenty of source material to draw from right? That was what I figured the whole time I was watching it and as such I found myself occasionally cutting it some slack since I wasn't sure how things went down in the book. But when I wasn't cutting it slack, I was sitting aghast viewing this incredibly uninspired sequel. I can assure you, I rolled my eyes more than I laughed or smiled. It was the type of film that felt so contrived, it took me right out of everything. And when it did, I couldn't help but look at it with a filmmaker's eyes, and wonder why these actors agreed to it and if this really was the best movie anyone could come up with.
And thennnn I did my research. I learned that this movie was not based on the original sequel story in any way, besides the filmmakers deciding to stick the name on it just because people are familiar with it. How many liberties are taken? Let's put it this way, the Hatter whom the whole story is based only has a cameo in the real sequel. Suddenly the very few things I appreciated about the film were completely overshadowed by its shamelessness. Thankfully it isn't trying to be the first movie all over again, but the movie it is trying to be isn't very good either. When Sacha Baron Cohen's character is your most likable one, your movie probably has problems. This movie is nothing more than a cash grab, pure and simple. RATING: 4/10
Now for X-Men. X-Men First Class was the reboot we needed after the disastrous X3: The Last Stand. Its direct sequel, X-Men: Days of Future Past, improved upon the franchise further and wiped the slate clean with possibility. Is some of that possibility realized with Apocalypse? Well. It depends on who you ask. Once again it seems my comic book tastes seem completely incongruent with critics. While X-Men: Apocalypse is getting mixed reviews, I have to be completely honest and tell you that I LOVED it. In fact, I felt giddy watching it.
There's certainly a lot of ground to be covered and plenty of mutants to be juggled in Apocalypse. There are plenty of implausibilities in the timeline of this trilogy (we all know twenty years have passed and yet no one ages...) but none of it seems to matter when things are really picking up speed in the second half of this movie. My only real gripe is with Jennifer Lawrence's Mystique. She really doesn't bring a whole lot to this role, but it's pretty obvious the accommodations they make for her because of her star power (such as writing her to be the most beloved and admired mutant, all the while getting to appear as herself instead of what the character should actually look like to save from having to spend hours in the makeup chair.) I'd love for her not to return for a sequel so she can give more screen time back to the real stars of the show: James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender. As always, they are the heart of this trilogy, though some new and some returning faces certainly make things interesting as well. Just as in Days of Future Past, Evan Peters's Quicksilver is an absolute scene stealer and gets probably the coolest scene of the film all to himself. Oscar Isaac was a fantastic edition and a wonderful villain, while the new young Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), Scott Summers (Tye Sheridan) and Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) were all wonderfully used as well.
Go ahead buddy. Finish her off. It'll be fine.
Yes, critics are mixed, but I couldn't be more in love with this movie. This is exactly what I want from my comic book movies, as well as blockbusters: humor (not in the form of constant wisecracks,) character depth, and some risk. Oh, and it's pretty entertaining too. Long live the X-men franchise. Keep doing what you're doing. RATING: 9/10