Critics Consensus

X-Men: Apocalypse Is a So-So Superhero Slugfest

Plus, Alice Through the Looking Glass is short on magic, and Roots is profoundly powerful.

by and | May 26, 2016 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got mutant mayhem (X-Men: Apocalypse, starring James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender) and a return to Wonderland (Alice Through the Looking Glass, starring Mia Wasikowska and Johnny Depp). What do the critics have to say?


X-Men: Apocalypse (2016) 46%

The X-Men series has been through a reboot and a couple of spinoff franchises at this point, and all that history is a bit of a mixed blessing — on the one hand, it’s that much easier for each new entry to take advantage of the team’s decades of history in print; on the other, it gets progressively more difficult to do justice to each character as the cast and crowded mythology expand. Sadly, although it tries to honor the comics by bringing a key villain’s saga to life, critics say X-Men: Apocalypse stumbles under the weight of a muddled storyline that can’t fully do justice to its core components — and eventually falls back on the CGI Sturm und Drang that has reduced far too many superhero sequels to digital noise in the final act.


Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016) 29%

Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland had a great cast and incredible special effects, but it wasn’t exactly a critical darling. Lukewarm reviews notwithstanding, it made an absolute ton of money worldwide — which is why, even though Burton’s no longer in the director’s chair, Alice Through the Looking Glass was a foregone conclusion. Alas, although the core members of the cast are back (including Mia Wasikowska, Helena Bonham Carter, Johnny Depp, and Anne Hathaway), critics say new director James Bobin brings even less of the source material’s delightful whimsy to this follow-up, sacrificing Lewis Carroll’s classic stories on a brightly colored altar of computer-generated chaos.


What’s Hot on TV

Roots: A New Vision: Miniseries (2016) 96%

A powerfully impressive — and still relevant — update on a television classic, Roots boasts remarkable performances, deep emotion, and occasionally jarring beauty.


All the Way (2016) 87%

Anchored by Bryan Cranston‘s phenomenal performance as LBJ, All the Way is an engrossing portrayal of a complicated man during a pivotal moment in US history.


Wayward Pines: Season 2 (2016) 43%

Wayward Pines drifts away from the intrigue and mystery established during its debut season, slipping into a dull, repetitive, and trite narrative.


Also Opening This Week In Limited Release

  • Lasseter's Bones (2012) , a documentary about an 85-year-old man searching the desert for a treasure his father claimed to have found in 1931, is at 100 percent.
  • Presenting Princess Shaw (2015) , a documentary about the retirement home employee who became a YouTube star, is at 89 percent.
  • Jia Zhangke, A Guy From Fenyang (2014) , a documentary about the celebrated Chinese filmmaker, is at 80 percent.
  • Chevalier (2015) , a dramedy about six well-heeled Greeks aboard a boat who engage in an ill-defined but heated competition, is at 77 percent.
  • The Ones Below (2015) , starring Clémence Poésy and David Morrissey in a thriller about the twisted relationships between two couples in the same apartment building, is at 74 percent.
  • Unlocking the Cage (2016) , a documentary about attorney Steven Wise and his attempt to get legal protection for animals, is at 71 percent.
  • The Idol (2015) , a fictionalized retelling of Palestinian Muhammad Assaf’s attention-grabbing run on Arab Idol, is at 71 percent.
  • To Life (2014) , a drama about three Holocaust survivors who reunite years later at a French seaside town, is at 60 percent.
  • Holy Hell (2016) , a documentary about a man who spent nearly 25 years as the videographer for a cult, is at 58 percent.