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Alice Through the Looking Glass
Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Anne Hathaway, Johnny Depp, Sacha Baron Cohen
Synopsis: Alice time travels through the fantastical Underland to rescue the Mad Hatter and his family.
What’s The Word: The visuals in this follow-up to Tim Burton’s 2010 fantasy are less stellar than the original, and the plot holes persist. “The saving grace of Burton’s film was his wise tendency to bask in the wonders of his gothic Underland. [Director James] Bobin — not as equipped in the visual department — merely rushes from one point to the next,” Nigel M. Smith wrote for The Guardian. Hitfix’s Drew McWeeny praised the visuals, but found every other element hollow: “The bigger disappointment here is that Tim Burton is willing to put his brand name all over something so crushingly pedestrian.” Writing for RogerEbert.com, Matt Zoller Seitz said the film’s false feminism put a damper on Mia Wasikowska’s charm, writing, “She's in every scene of the movie, yet it's still a nothing part.”
Starring: Oscar Isaac, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Olivia Munn, Sophie Turner
Synopsis: The X-Men battle an ancient cyber-mutant named Apocalypse and his villainous Four Horsemen.
What’s The Word: This lukewarm X-Men installment doesn’t approach the heights of the franchise’s best. Empire’s Helen O’Hara said that Apocalypse relies too heavily on its predecessors, writing, “The more the film harks back to other X-installments, the more you’ll wish you were watching those instead.” Michael Roffman at Consequence of Sound wrote that Professor X and his gang are fun, but now have “a same ol’, same ol’ wash” that wasn’t as obvious before. Geoff Berkshire at Variety acknowledged the monotony, but was more dismayed at the movie’s squeeze on Oscar Isaac: “Apocalypse remains a one-note villain throughout, despite Isaac’s best efforts to imbue the godlike foe with authoritative menace underneath mountains of prosthetic makeup.”
Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising
Starring: Zac Efron, Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne
Synopsis: Sorority sisters mess with hapless adults.
What's The Word: This comedy sequel has a surprising and welcome feminist bent. "The Bechdel test is overly simple, yes, but a usefully blunt tool to compare Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising to its modern comedy brethren, virtually none of which have bothered to imbue female characters with the agency, humor, or actual personality that the women of Neighbors 2 deliver in spades," Katey Rich wrote for Vanity Fair. Erin Whitney at ScreenCrush noted: "Not only is it one of the best and funniest comedy sequels, it’s also the most feminist, gay-inclusive, and self-aware mainstream comedy of the year, if not ever." But Amy Nicholson at MTV News was slightly more wary: "Neighbors 2’s Social Justice Warrior critique would feel less sour if it weren’t written by five white guys. I guess this is still their party after all."
The Nice Guys
Starring: Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling, Angourie Rice
Synopsis: A daffy detective teams up with a deadpan hit man to investigate porn-centric crime in 1970s L.A.
What's The Word: Shane Black's flick is an amusing, violent throwback, with a very good Gosling. Variety's Owen Gleiberman called the movie "an ultra-violent burlesque, the sort of cheerfully hostile buddy bash that’s been a staple since the ’80s, only this one is singularly clever about its own triviality, and it offers the scruffy pleasure of seeing two great actors dial down their gravitas with style." Joe Morgenstern at The Wall Street Journal said it is "consistently entertaining, frequently violent and generally slapdash." Meanwhile, A.O. Scott of The New York Times acknowledged Black's "knack for slapstick anarchy," but also explained, "This is a dumb movie pretending to be smart, even as it wants you to believe the opposite."
The Angry Birds Movie
Starring: Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Bill Hader
Synopsis: Birds battle pigs. You've played this game.
What's The Word: According to some, it's not that bad. "Angry Birds could be a whole lot worse," Leah Greenblatt conceded at Entertainment Weekly. The AP's Lindsey Bahr said "it's definitely not terrible and even surprisingly fun and heartfelt at times." Jesse Hassenger of The A.V. Club wasn't so forgiving. "The movie’s dialogue is so generic that Red (Sudeikis), the outcast bird with the furrowed, furry eyebrows, barely registers as angry," he wrote.