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The whimsical zany characters of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland have returned in Disney’s ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS with a new director yet same colorful ‘bizarro’ cinematography and vivid stylization. The talented cast remains with a stronger emphasis on a plot focused around Johnny Depp’s Mad Hatter backstory and an equally as ridiculous new character Lord of Time played by the outrageous Sacha Baron. Alice, Mia Wasikowska, along with the rest of the over-the-top characters of Wonderland have returned in this sequel designed to be exactly what fans of the original would want. Alice Through The Looking Glass’s look and feel remains true to Tim Burton’s successful adaptation with the addition of a meaningful heartfelt story that can win-over the hardest critiques of the genre.
Director James Bobin, (THE MUPPETS, MUPPETS MOST WANTED), brings an Alice sequel that is to the ’T’ of what one should expect from this Disney sequel. A film shot almost entirely around green screens and endless visual effects and motion capture, can be challenging to not become too gimmicky while standing above the rest. Alice Through the Looking Glass excels in the genre with a theme that works to the style perfectly. There are endless amounts of gorgeously created scenery and gigantic action sequences that helps bring a broader appeal to those that may already not be a fan of the stylization. Still outlandish and strange, the movie is not for everyone, but an Alice movie probably should take some chances to fulfill the insanity quota the comes with the Alice characters. Just take a look at the animated film again.
Alice is once again seen not conforming to the societies social norms, but is faced to make a difficult choice between her father’s belongings and the families money. To find her answer she is chased back into the whimsical world of Wonderland or as some say, Underland. This time she must help save the Mad Hatter from losing all of his sanity in a tale that combines heart with several other subplots leaving interesting foot notes but a lack of investment.
Extreme close-ups of the Hatter and the Queen of Hearts brings some awkwardness, but helps prove that the filmmakers weren’t shy of taking chances. Johnny Depp shines again with an incredible performance that proves that he still can astonish with his acting. Helena Bonham Carter shows many sides of emotion in her Queen of Hearts character with a storyline that brings to light the reasoning behind the globe of a head and her hatred for just about everyone else. The incredibly animated animals of the tea party also return with more emotion than ever. Sadly, Anne Hathaway’s flailing and swaying of arms character remains just as annoying as before. Mia Wasikowska has more of a role model 19-year-old version of Alice that many girls should be looking up to. She’s more of a strong Dorothy of Oz demeanor than anything with the perseverance that she will accomplish her dreams no matter the obstacle.
The cast of Lewis Carroll’s creations gets a chance to shine more-so than the 2010 film, however it’s Time that helps this sequel chug along. No no… I mean Time is what this film needed. Wait, okay, the name of the character is Time, part man part Universes clock, and the writers get to have endless amounts of fun at the expense of his name and inanimate sense. Sacha Baron Cohen was the right amount of silly for this performance. Much of his inner workings were very intelligent. The meaning behind himself and much of his jokes were actually quite brilliant. This witty comedy pushed the movie forward whenever a lag began.
The film moves right along and packs a little punch. This is highly important in a near two hour film. Everyone I spoke to seemed to agree that Alice Through the Looking Glass is incredibly entertaining, yet still struggles to make much of an impact. To be frank, we just didn’t care about the story as it’s all in her a fake mystery land anyway, right? While the touching story of the Hatter’s is a more meaningful plot, it remains on a mute point to the rest of the Time plot that outweighs the actual meaning and mere moral of the story. The final 20 minutes gives a saving grace to an otherwise little invested backstory of much of the main cast.
It’s utterly beautiful. It’s elusive Underland experience is impressive, but strange at times. The mystery of their histories is interesting yet lost in so many other absurdities and those strange faces that stretch from one screen end to another. Alice Through the Looking Glass is nothing that you shouldn’t already expect however, but is that what the audience wants? Above anything else, the moral behind the story is clear and delivers the right message for moviegoers. While the film may become forgettable its deeper meaning may resonate in the viewer forever.