Written by: Linda Woolverton, Lewis Carroll (Novel)
Directed by: James Bobin
Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway
Running Time: 113 minutes
Alice returns home from her voyages only to be pulled back into the quirky world of Wonderland, but this time it’s to save her dearest friend, the Mad Hatter.
Welcome Back to Wonderland
In 1875 England, Alice Kingsley (Mia Wasikowska) returns home after travelling the world as a sea captain. She returns to disappointment by learning that her mother has sold her father’s business in her absence. In that moment of despair, she is summoned back to the magical world of Wonderland where all her dearest friends are waiting for her help.
Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) has gone ‘’madder’’ than usual and has convinced himself that his family is still alive. The White Queen (Anne Hathaway) explains to Alice that the only way to save Hatter is go back in time and rescue his family from the Jabbawockee attack.
Alice goes to Time himself (Sasha Baron Cohen) who banishes her explaining that the only way to go back in time is to use the ‘Chronosphere’ and in doing so, she would be affecting all of history. Alice develops a secret plot to steal the sphere since it’s for Hatter and embarks on a journey filled with time-related puns and tedious CGI to save the life of her dearest Mad Hatter.
Weak Plot, If You Can Call It a Plot
Tim Burton’s original was as pleasant as it was diverse, but this flick is bland and makes us wish that Alice hadn’t looked through the glass at all.
Director James Bobin (The Muppets Show) takes over from Tim Burton for this flick. Although the film contains a resemblance to a plot, most scenes are strung together with no connection or meaning. The true sense of the story is lost trying to convince the audience that the protagonist is actually capable of being in trouble. This comes as a surprise (unlike the rest of the movie), as Burton chose to sit this one out as a producer, which means all of it still happened under his watch.
Writer Linda Woolverton took Lewis Carroll’s epic classic along with all of its flamboyant characters and turned them into a dull bunch with no souls. As ironic as it sounds, none of the characters have enough human elements to make you feel for them. The biggest disappointment was the overzealous feminism in Alice. Yes, it’s great to have an element of empowerment, but she is a woman living in the late 19th century and there are too many unnecessary lines explaining her modern views to us.
Not much can be said about the artwork in the movie as most of it is based on Burton’s work. The movie is a good reminder that all the trickery of technology cannot save a movie without a good story.
The music by Danny Elfman is, however, a welcome relief.
Acting & Casting: Hits & Misses
Let’s talk about the new addition first: Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat, The Dictator) as Time himself. Maybe he was blindly following direction or just off his game with this one, but his attempt at balancing slapstick humor and ominous objectives did not play out well.
Johnny Depp (Black Mass, Pirates of The Carribean) returns as the Mad Hatter and is as stunning as ever. After last year’s Black Mass, fans hoped to see him return to some serious filmmaking, but I don’t think many will complain. Despite Depp, the one who really steals the show is Helena Bonham Carter (Fight Club, Sweeney Todd) as The Red Queen. Her performance is flawless.
Mia Wasikowska (Crimson Peak, The Kids Are All Right) has definitely outgrown the role of Alice Kingsleigh. She did not seem as fascinated on screen as she did the first time around. Anne Hathaway (The Dark Knight Rises, The Devil Wears Prada) puts in a solid shift as The White Queen. Other notable characters are Lindsay Duncan (Birdman, About Time) as Helen Kingsleigh & Leo Bill (The Fall, 28 Days Later) as Hamish.
All in All
Alice Through The Looking Glass fails to capture the imagination of almost anyone. After watching the movie, one will be left wondering who the target audience really is – kids will find it scary/infuriating and adults will not relate to any part of the story.
WATCH IT IF YOU’RE: In the mood for some quirky on-screen characters OR have to watch it since you’ve seen the prequel.