Alice Through the Looking Glass James Bobin

Some Movies To See This Weekend: Memorial Day 2016

Friday, May 27, 2016 Rob Samuelson

It’s franchise-palooza this holiday weekend at the movies, folks. Two sequels, one from a 16-year-old mega series and one the second installment of a billion-dollar “reimagining” that in hindsight maybe wasn’t worth thinking about too long, are duking it out for your hard-earned dollars. Let’s check ‘em out.

X-Men: Apocalypse
Director: Bryan Singer
Writers: Simon Kinberg, Bryan Singer, Michael Dougherty, Dan Harris
Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Oscar Isaac, Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan

In the latest installment of the movie series starring Marvel Comics’ merry band of mutants, things have fast-forwarded to the 1980s. Suspend your disbelief that Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), Magneto (Michael Fassbender), Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), and the rest of the crew have most certainly not aged 20-plus years since 2011’s X-Men: First Class. After all, they’re telepathic, metal-manipulating, shape-shifting superheroes and villains, so a weird fake aging process is the least of their worries when it comes to plausibility.

This time around, an ancient Egyptian mutant, perhaps the first of their kind, begins menacing the world of the 1980s. His name is Apocalypse, and he is played by Oscar Isaac, otherwise known as this generation’s De Niro and/or Pacino. That’s a big deal. The background of Apocalypse is that he has influenced the “end of the world” stories of religions all around the world, and he recruits his Four Horsemen to bring about the death of the planet. That’s neat stuff. Hopefully it’s as fun and entertaining as the last couple X-Men movies have been.

Alice Through the Looking Glass
Director: James Bobin
Writer: Linda Woolverton
Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Sacha Baron Cohen

This one isn’t as potentially interesting. The last Alice in Wonderland film from 2010, directed by Tim Burton, wasn’t anything to write home about. It’s fine, but it’s ultimately forgettable. Somehow that shrug emoticon of a motion picture became one of the highest grossing films of all time, so of course a sequel would be greenlit. It’s especially easy when there was a second Alice story ready for adaptation.

Replacing Burton in the director’s chair is James Bobin, whose silly aesthetic transferred fairly seamlessly from HBO’s Flight of the Conchords to the new series of Muppets films. He has a stronger sense of humor than Burton, plus the storybook look of these Alice movies appears to suit him well. There’s a chance this one will be a little more memorable than its predecessor.

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